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Farewell Auckland – Days 217 and 218

7th and 8th September 2011

Power Outage

Last night just as we started watching “Invictus”, very appropriate for the Rugby World Cup that is about to start. All things requiring power turned off. At first we thought something had tripped, but it turned out that power was out all over. The thing that got us was just how quiet it was. You think its quiet when you go to bed and switch off the lights. But take away even the humm of electronics and the quiet is deeper. It was actually quiet a pleasant experience. I went to read in bed by torchlight.

All too soon the power was restored and we were all around the little square box watching the rest of the movie. Ahhh well!

Old Friends!

I have been very lucky in meeting up with old friends everywhere I go. Auckland was another of these places. Megan was a friend from primary school and I had not seen her in close to 20yrs. I had seen her briefly when I first arrived but got a chance to see her again for dinner after returning from Tonga. As we wandered around looking for food we immediately picked Nando’s. If you are South African you will understand, and if you are an expat in a country without Nando’s I don’t need to say anymore. It is always great catching up.

Old Friends

Plans…

So the plan had been to take the overnight bus to Wellington, stay with a mate and her family for 3weeks. Then take the bus back to Taupo and meet Kirsten for a night there. Then return to Auckland for the South Africa vs Samoa game and finally fly to Dunedin. But after meeting the 3 great girls on the Magic Bus tour, plans were in the midst of change.

Intercity Overnight

After saying farewell to Kirsten, Harvey and Rob, I boarded the overnight bus to Wellington. It left around 9pm (I say around because it was 20minutes late) and arrives at 7am. Now normally I would run for the hills if anything longer than a 4hr bus trip was in my future. But after South America, a piddly 10hr trip seems like a walk in the park. Plus I managed to get a whole 2 seats, SWEET AS BRO! So as soon as I was “snuggled” into my seat, I promptly spent the whole trip sleeping…or pretending to so that no one would sit next to me.

Bright and early at 7am we arrived in Wellington and I managed to find my way to the train, buy a ticket and head to my mates house 20min away.

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Returning to the land of Kiwi’s – days 209 to 212

30th of August to 2nd September 2011

Immigration and cab drivers

Arriving at 1am in the morning and being slightly less compus mentus, especially after having one of my full row seats given to someone else, the fear on my mind was getting through immigration. You may recall that I apparently have similar information, to a person of interest, who the government wishes to talk to! But turned out I had no worries, after joking a bit about the rugby, I walked on through, got my bag and hopped in a cab.

I had exactly $45nz and had estimated it would cost $25. I had a great cab driver and we chatted all the way to Kirsten’s about his days on the boats that ran to Portland, Oregon. As we got closer I noticed we were at $45 and still ticking. In addition to the actual charge there is an extra $7 charge for the airport. At the house hte final charge was $52, but he was sweet and said the $45 was fine. Thank heavens!

Plans Plans Plans

After a rough month it was great having a good friend to bounce ideas off of and figure out what to do next. Its amazing how emotionally draining things can be. I was at the point where I just needed to go and do something fun and not have to worry about costs or transport. Kirsten recommended a tour of the Northland and up to the very point of NZ, Cape Reinga. We looked at just doing a basic bus service up there, at Kiwi Experience and at Magic Bus. Magic won the day as they had exactly what I wanted and included a dolphin tour, sandboarding, Kauri tree museum, visiting the giant Kauris and much more. Normally I would have run in the opposite direction of the cost, but right then and there I didn’t care and it sounded like the perfect trip to get my mind off things. Not to mention that my cheapskate ways now mean that I have a bit extra to do something fun!

So its off to Auckland to stay in the Surf ‘n Snow hostel for a night and then an early pickup Saturday morning. I am so looking forward to this you have no idea.

Look out Northland you are about to be invaded by a Schmidt!!!

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Manukau – Days 176 and 177

30th July and 31st July 2011

Old Friends

Today I went to meet up with an old primary school friend who I had not seen since Std. 7
(9th grade), which makes it over 18yrs. The best memory I have of Megan is when I went
horseriding with her. It was my first horse ride and was sitting behind her on her horse.
Unfortunately I did not realise that she was very tender in the flanks and so when, not
knowing where to put my legs, I slid them up near her hips. I promptly found myself on the
ground unable to breathe. I then remember Megan’s dad leaning over me and telling me to
breathe.

Having the wind knocked out of you at about 13 is quite frightening! But it never stopped
me from getting on a horse again.

During our reunion we were discussing memories from school, old friends, teachers, the
time our class almost got sent home from a camping trip for behaviour (but as chief
teachers pet I pleaded our case and we were allowed to stay). Then I recalled the memory
of our assignment to create a food invention, one girl created “bubblegum in jelly/jello”.
She kindly gave me a piece of “bubblegum”… only to discover that it was actually a tiny
chilli. I ran out of the class ignoring the teacher and drank most of the water in the
bathroom. Megan laughed and said “oh yes, that was me”. Got to love your friends.

After wandering around the shopping center and talking for a while we parted ways and I
managed to hop on the bus home. I had the afternoon to myself and got some work done.

Sunday markets

Kirsten and I headed out Sunday morning to the farmers market and what a market it was.
Amazing fresh produce, yummy venison hot dogs, delicious coffee and much much more. There
was a company selling buffalo meat and they had biltong, but it didn’t have much flavour
so I decided to save my money.

It was a great morning and in the afternoon we took Harvey for a walk in the forest
behind the house. A great day! Got my bags all packed and set my alarm for bloody early
in the morning!

Tomorrow off to Tonga!

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Auckland, New Zealand – Days 166 to 169

19th July to 22nd July 2011

NZ Immigration

Now, as I mentioned in the previous post, this trip had gone relatively smoothly except for the running around to print things and the possible delay for a day of my flight. If you don’t count these issues then it was a very smooth trip. But as you know all things come in threes and the third one was waiting for me at immigration.

The flight had been super easy, a whole row, great food, excellent entertainment system, I think I will be flying LAN air again. I was feeling fantastic as I got off the plane and rather relieved to finally be in NZ. Making my way to immigration I had a short wait and then it was my turn. The officer was very friendly and we joked a bit as he looked through my passport.

JUST A NOTE: they NEVER asked me for a printed proving an exit ticket from NZ.

With a smile he asked me to come round to the back of his cubicle and then pointed to a chair and asked me to wait there. Then he walked off and handed my passport to another officer. I was nervous, but assumed it was because I had marked “handled animals other than cat and dog”. As I sat there for 5, 10, 15minutes I started becoming a bit more concerned and imagining being deported to some other location. Just then, a lady walked up and introduced herself as “Jane from Immigration”. She explained that I had “similar information to a person of interest that they would like to talk with“.

Is it wrong that I thought this was kind of cool, however very relieved that it was not! She also told me to expect the same thing when I returned from Tonga at the end of August.

Now I must make it clear that in all the years going through US immigration and the hard times I have been given before I became a citizen, their customer service came no where near NZ’s. As everyone told me in Australia, Kiwi’s are just nice! And I agree, even their immigration officers are just plain NICE!

After collecting my bag and joking with the guy checking my declaration form that, as a vet nurse, I was carrying anything that had been down or up an animal, I exited the airport to be met by an my fabulous mate, Kirsten.

On Thursday we went for a walk through the native forest that sits behind their house. The ecosystem is truly amazing with numerous evergreens and giant ferns that make it look and feel like any minute a brontosaurus is going to stick its head out to greet you. The preserve also links to the botanical gardens so we just continued our walk all the way to the cafe for coffee.

Harvey

Harvey, Kirsten’s 10wk old son, was very patient with us the whole time and pushing his pram around you build up muscles as it acts as a wind break. He also has impeccable timing as he started to fuss right as we finished our coffee. On our way out we stopped at the African section of the botanical gardens and marveled at the array of protea flowers.

Protea

Animals First

Friday was a nice relaxing day. Kirsten and family were heading down to Christchurch that evening and I had a talk to go to in Auckland. I was meeting Karen from SPAW was meeting at the talk hosted by SAFE, an organisation fighting for animal rights. It was a very interesting talk and very enlightening to the plight of food animals. For the most part I felt like a wolf in sheep’s clothing as I am a carnivore amongst the vegans. But luckily it appeared as if they were not going to shove veggies down my throat. I enjoyed the talk by the guy who spent a month in a cage in protest to battery hens, the talk by the dutch guy who converted the celebrity spokesman of the pork industry into a SAFE spokesman… but then we got to the lady who feels we should evolve to being veggie eaters. Oh well it was good well it lasted and I did learn a lot, even the vegan cupcakes were quite yummy.

Karen and me with the Sad pig


Housesitting

With the family away I was official housesitter and loving having the place to myself. Slept in late, worked on my blog, went for a walk in the forest, took a nap, worked on my blog! A great day and tomorrow I would be leaving for Rotorua and chance for a geothermal mud bath.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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