North Island

It is the 29th November 2015. I just arrived in New Zealand (about my flight to come here and the procedure at the border, you can read the page “On my way to New Zealand“). The first I did at the airport was to buy a New Zealand operators sim card for phone and data communications. Now I contacted my first host Anna and started to find her home after her description. For that I was going by airport shuttle to Queens Street and continued by walking all the K-Street and around 1 km on Great North Road, where I finally found the road and the house where she is living.

She lives on the ground floor, anyway she has a mess in her home. I was prepared for that, but not for the dirt. Even the mattress and the cover, she offered me, were dirty, though I used my sleeping bag. Anyway I had a bad night and was leaving without taking a coffee. I had understood her before, that they all are students living there, but the owner of the apartment, who was my host, was in her forties and working.

I ate breakfast at McDonald’s and was then walking down to the city center looking for a scooter dealer as well as for the German consulate, because I hoped they would put a stamp on my translation of my German driver’s licence. On the way I bought some items like sun protection and sun glasses. I also took a lot of photographs.

 

On my way to the city I continued to look for a scooter dealer, but could not find anyone. I found the German consulate and was asking there for a stamp on my translation, but they explained, that it is not working that way. The translation has to be done on a special form, which only an authorised translator has. Anyway they helped me with the contact and I could pick it up two days later.

I was looking at the harbour and went afterwards to the tourist information asking them for addresses for scooter dealers, because my tablet was out of Internet. The assistant gave me one address. When I arrived there, they told me, that they only serve and repair scooters and motorcycles, but do not sell. Anyway I have got two more addresses of them, though I walked further and found one of them, but he only had one heavy-looking scooter. Even I told him that I have the driver’s licence required, he said “if you have the licence”, therefore I did not go back to him.

I tried to find the other one, but it was on a long road and people told me the wrong direction. I got so tired, I saved that one for the upcoming day and went back to the Great North Road. Suddenly at Newton street I found a Suzuki dealer. While I remembered, that Suzuki is a make for mopeds and motorcycles as well as for cars, I checked what this one is selling and he could offer, what I was looking for, but the price was 2,000 NZD. I thought it was too much, went back to the city center and took the bus for Albany (close from the Britomart) after I have eaten an Indian rice dish and was in a shopping center for a restroom. At the Albany Park & Ride was my next host,Dennis, waiting for me.

 

Albany, Auckland

Albany, Auckland – View from Dennis’ Kitchen

At 4:30pm Dennis had to go to Auckland and I was going with him by car. I walked around the city, took more photographs of e.g. the Skytower and was at Britomart again for asking some questions. The service there is amazing good and friendly! Later I met up with Dennis at the Car park and we were going home together to his house.

The following day I was going by bus to Auckland again, still looking for  a scooter. It was really expensive, because I had to pay everytime I entered another bus, even it was a direct change. Some buses I had to pay 1,50, some buses 3,5o NZD for and others in between. I was around to all the addresses I had, but could not find a used scooter for the price I was willing to pay. In the late afternoon i picked the translation of my driver’s licence up and paid the requested 55 NZD for it. Disappointed for the scooter I went home by bus. Dennis asked me, how it was going and offered me one more night at his home. Gratefully I took this opportunity.

This extra day, the 3rd December, I was back at Suzuki and bought that scooter, they offered me before for 2000 NZD. There were still some details to fix, they told me and I asked them for doing it immediately, which they agreed. I also got a helmet included in the price. At 2pm all was done, even the registration and I started my trip to the North.

Suzuki-Scooter

Suzuki-Scooter (125cc)

I followed the “Great North Road”, tried to find highway (hwy) 16, because I was not sure that I already, after so many years not driving a motorcycle or scooter, still could drive good enough for this big highway. I did not find hwy 16 and had to go on hwy 1 anyway. The first part of this hwy was easy to ride and later on I wished, that there would be more roads in New Zealand like this. I was only driving 80 to 90 km/h, because I chose an open helmet and the wind did make me to drive at this speed.

I drove all the way up to Kaitaia, but did take some rests, one of them unexpected, because I run out of petrol. I did neither really know how much petrol the engine needs, nor how far away from each other the gas stations are. Furthermore I did not know how many liters of petrol the tank was for. Though I did not buy petrol at the latest possible gas station and became then afraid, that I will not do it to Kaitaia. In addition to this it was getting dark. I stopped at a place with a kiosk, two women were sitting on a bench outside and the kiosk closing down. I talked with this very friendly women, asked the assistant of the kiosk if she has some fuel she could sell to me. She had not and I went to the houses on the road. The owner of the second or third one was able and eager to help me. Thankful did I pay for it and continued on my way. Soon I met a house on a trailer. A security van was in front of it and told me to stop and take my scooter aside with the lights on. So I did. When the trailer came to the place, where I was staying, it was not space enough for both of us and I had to go further on the bank. The trailer passed than without any problems, but I could not get the scooter on the road again. Drivers from the cars behind the trailer did help me.

The last part of this day’s trip I made in fully dark and the road had many serpentines. Therefore I looked for a backpacker’s in Kaitaia. I should have had a host for this night in Ahipara, but my host did message me, that there only is a dirty, that means unsealed, road to her home and I am not comfortable with them, especially not by scooter. In Kaitaia I first took the wrong door and asked at a motel, with the cheapest room for 110 NZD and the assistant explained to me, that the backpacker’s is next door. There I have got an apartment for 40 NZD for a night, while I have been told, that there was no bed left in the dorms. Fortunately there were no change (for my note) and I was asked to pay the following morning. – This day I have got a good prove of the kindness and helpfulness of the “Kiwis”.

When I was checking out, I only needed to pay 30 NZD ☺. Unfortunately this hostel did not offer breakfast, therefore I went to a bakery not far away. Here I also met the host, I should have been during the night. We had a great conversation before she was going home and I further. I drove to Cape Reinga and became well-known as the elderly lady on a scooter going North. I had a can with petrol on my scooter now, because I was afraid to run out of petrol again. Unfortunately it broke and around two liters run out before a woman in a car signalised. A German traveller with a camper van stopped and helped me to fill the rest in my tank.

At Cape Reinga I had to take the backpack with me, because there were neither an assisted info point nor lockers. Though I was not walking far. Instead I used my tripod for the first time and took some photographs.

From Cape Reinga I tried to drive all the way to Paihia, but it was too far. Therefore I stayed at a Motel in Pukenui in the Houhora district, which also has a building for backpackers. They didn’t serve breakfast for backpackers either, but across the road I could find all I needed. At this place I also had a good conversation with a woman from Auckland and her cousin.

The following day I drove to Paihia and took in at the “Pickled Parrot”, a BBH (backpacker’s  hostel). In the price for the bed even breakfast was included. The lady, who run this place was very kind. I went out for exploring the city and enjoying the beach. There was an art market, craftsmen and women tried to sell their items to the tourists. The market was called the Paradise and Christmas market. They offered really good and also inspired crafts, but nothing to take with me in my backpack. I ate out as usual, but found a cafe, which sold special food, which I tried.

The other day I tried to go to the Kerikeri falls. Unfortunately the road was not signed all the way for the falls, though I did not find them. Instead I went to the Haruru falls, which were easier to find, but they are not especially famous. There I also have seen row boats, two and two fastened with each other.

Back at the BBH I only picked up my big backpack and drove then further to my next destination – Kamo (Whangarei), where I had a host. On the way I tried to fill more fuel, but I could not open the seat. Furthermore I could not lock my scooter anymore. Though I had to continue and try to reach the home of my host with the fuel I had. Unfortunately I did not find their house straight away, though I was driving at the end of the road. At the last farm I asked for the house I was looking for. There I was told, that I have to drive back some kilometres on the hillside. I was afraid, that my fuel would not be enough for that and after the farmer tried opening the seat without success I called the AA, because my insurance covered it. I also messaged my host about the mess and that I am OK. He messaged me back, that he will come with a trailer and pick me up. The AA-helper could care about my scooter at his home as well. Only a quarter of an hour later, we were at my host’s home and so were the AA-contractor. He had a lot of work to do to open the seat from underneath. Finally he screwed the upper part of the inside lock off. Even I could not lock the seat anymore, I could fill fuel and drive.

Later that day my host told me that I should go to the citizen’s advice bureau  (CAD) and gave me the address, because I bought the scooter a few days ago and there should be a warranty by the dealer. I did that the next day and the volunteer did call the dealer (Coleman in Auckland), but he declared to her, that I have handled the lock the wrong way and told her, that I should go to the Yamaha motorcycle garage to get help with it. I could not go there this day, because I followed my host into town by car and I could only get picked up at 4pm. I made a sightseeing of the city instead and went to the library for print outs. My host picked me than up there.

When I came to the Yamaha garage the other day, they told me, that there is a Suzuki dealer in Whangarei as well and he also sells motorcycles as well as service them. Though I went there. I explained my case and one of the employees took a look at the scooter, the seat etc. He told me, that the emission was broken, that there is no way I could have damaged it and that it would be unfair that I should have to pay for it. He promised me to speak with Coleman in Auckland and to order the necessary part(s) for the repair. First he told me, the company would not have the possibility to repair it before Monday the following week. I explained, that I have to go further earlier and I was told, that the job will be done the upcoming Friday.

Fortunately my host offered me to stay with them until that day, though I was taking a walk to the Whangarei waterfalls as well as to art museums and the art village Whangarei Quarry Art Center as well as the Quarry gardens

and the Whangarei Heads.

Even the days were lovely, the evenings where still cold and I was freezing a lot on my way back from the Whangarei Heads. I learned about family live and the school system in New Zealand of my host, even I am not sure, that every husband in New Zealand will help as much as he did with the children and the home. There were no rest for him after coming home from work until going to bed. He is very strong, because when I asked him, how they could travel the way they do with three small children, he told me, that he carried one in the front of him and the other one on his backpack. I was furthermore surprised about, that the children start school the day after their fifth or sixth birthday and not all five or six-year-old together at a special day of the year how it is common e.g. in Sweden and Germany. The parents can choose at which age their children start at school.

When I came to the Suzuki dealer that Friday, I have been told, that Coleman will not pay the costs for the repair and that the costs will be 160 NZD. The seller also told me, that they have not ordered the parts by that. I became really fed up and tried to sell the scooter to the dealer, but he told me, that they will not extend their stock earlier than in February. I think, that was a lie, because it will be more difficult to sell at the end of the summer. The dealer was not interested at all in buying that scooter. Before continuing my travel I asked them to check the oil and the pressure of the tyres. They did and did it for free, because “it is Christmas”.

I continued with the scooter anyway and started on my way to Katikati, where my next host is living. I did not make all the way, because it started raining and I had difficulties to see. The raindrops fastened on my glasses, though it was not save to drive. Therefore I rented a bed in Wellsford at the only accommodation there. I was happy, because I only had to pay for a bed and not for a room. I parked the scooter on the back side of the house, which was save, but hard to go there because the steep and the unsealed road.

At the “Wellsford Inn” it was not possible either to get a breakfast, though I went to the next cafe the following morning. Afterwards I continued to Katikati. Fortunately it was not raining, but a little for a short part of the trip. I was using the hwy 1 as far as possible and paid road toll again, but the remaining road was as bad as in the North. The traffic was worse and off and on trucks were driving very close to me while they were overtaking. Actually it was no pleasure to go by scooter. Therefore I took a rest at the “Black Eagle”.

I found the road where Ian is living together with his wife easily, but I had to fill some fuel. Therefore I had to drive through the little town. The petrol station was on the other end of it. Back to the right road I found that the driveway up to Ian’s home is unsealed – and it was quite a long and difficult one. Ian was very welcoming. We talked about his travels throughout South America by motorcycle, together with some of his friends. His wife was still at work, when I arrived and did not come home before late.

The following day it was raining, but Ian was used to it and I have the right clothing. Therefore we were taking a bush walk, like it is called here. The bush actually is the forest. We went first to see a 600 year old Kauri tree – with other words a quite young one. Kauri trees are native, but no many left for two reasons. For the first the early settlers used them for building their homes and for boats. The other reason is the vermins. This is also one of the reasons why the officer at the border were washing my shoes.

The forest with the Kauri trees was wet, though Ian drove with me to another place, close to a beach where we took a longer walk. Meanwhile the weather had become sunny, but was windy. Ian does know the names of all the trees and plants. Most of them are native. He also is a hunter. Sometimes he is hunting deers together with his son. Furthermore he explained to me, that he do not mind pine trees, even they are imported, because the wood helps the New Zealanders to a good economy, but he hate the possums, because they are eating the vegetation. – Both walks were quite easy, though I expected the same later on in another area. This evening Ian’s wife was decorating the Christmas tree, a pine, even there were some days left until Christmas.

 

Christmas Tree 13th Dec2015

Christmas Tree 13th Dec 2015

 

By the way I told my host about the celebration of Lucia day, because this day was the 13th December. We were also talking about the Pinnacle and the walk up there. He told me, that there were steps on the trail and that it is not difficult as well as he recommended me to stay in Thames with my heavy backpack and only take the little one for this walk.

Next morning I was going to the Coromandel area. I had planned to go there before I was visiting Ian, but did not have time for it by the mess with the scooter. I had not planned anything special for the next three days, though it was perfect to catch up with that area. Ian had driven my scooter close to the sealed road. His wife did take me down by car to the scooter. It was a perfect start for this day.

It was an easy ride from Katikati to Thames and only a few hours long. Therefore I took a rest at a cafe and cheese barn. Only ecological items were sold here. I ate a carrot cake and hade a Cappuccino.

Anyway I already arrived at the Sunkist backpacker’s hostel at noon. Fortunately I was allowed to check in. Afterwards I walked the town. Even this one looks like in an old Western movie, that means there are still a lot of old buildings and the most buildings have no more than two floors. While reading about the history of the city a young man interrupted me with the question, when it was the last time I have had a man. I did not answer him at all and started reading again. Before I went to the “PAK’nSAFE” supermarket I had taken a lot of pictures and been at the post office for sending two Christmas cards. At the supermarket I bought some food for two days.

On the way back to the hostel I saw an old railway station and took some photographs. I decided to look at the front of this station and take more. Unfortunately I did not see the chain, which was only around 10 cm from the ground and nearby had the same colour as the gravel. There were no flag or similar to point it out. I was very happy to have my function trousers, because even I hurt one knee, so it was bleeding a little, there were no hole in the trousers. My left hand got a sore. My right hand was holding the camera. Therefore I did not get a sore on this, but my camera broke. I was happy, that I still could take pictures with my tablet. Back at the hostel I ate my evening meal in the garden after I cleaned my soars.

There were no free Internet at the hostel, but there was a shop of my Internet provider and outside it, I could surf for free. I also topped up my prepaid Internet, as I thought. Unfortunately it was not working and I do not know where that money has gone. When I later on talked to a shop assistant, he told me, that the kind of top up I tried is not possible for prepaid accounts,  but I did not get the money back 😥.

At the Sunkist hostel a real breakfast with muesli, yogurt etc. was included in the price, what I was happy about and enjoyed. Around 10am I was on my way to the Pinnacle. I was going by scooter to the Kauaeranga Visitors Center. Some kilometres were unsealed road and to come to the start point of the trail to the Pinnacle I would have to use more unsealed road, though I parked my scooter at the visitor’s center and tried my first hitchhiking. Easily I have got a ride, because all cars were on the way to the trail.

I started happily not knowing what I had to expect, even I had read the description for the trail carefully. It has been raining during the night and the trail was partly wet, unfortunately especially at the most difficult parts. The first challenge was a long swing bridge. Fortunately only one person at the same time was allowed. I concentrated at the end of the bridge and made it. Guess, I was proud of myself! – For whom, who does not know it, I am afraid of high.

I came to the part, which was described in the leaflet, that the early settlers had carved steps in the mountain to make it easier for the horses to pull the timber. Well, I am not a horse and I only have two legs. Therefore I had some difficulties to use these steps. In addition to that it was not only steep down to the river, I had to cross, but upwards a very steep was on my right hand side as well as the steps were very high and slippery. When I had overcome that, I was scared of the way back. The only choice I had, was to continue. The trail was all the way very difficult for me to walk, even it was explained as a trail for families. I do not know, which families they are thinking about, but I could not and can not imagine how children  (with even shorter legs as mine) could climb the trail.

Finally, after five hours instead for proclaimed three, I reached the Pinnacle hut. I have had booked three nights at the hut before, which I could not use, because the mess with my scooter. I had messaged in time, that I could not come and had got the answer, that I could choose other nights. Even I had rejected that offer, because I did not see any possibility to go there at that time, I now tried to stay overnight for free. Fortunately I had the printed booking details with me and I was really allowed to stay there during the upcoming night for free, because I could not make the way back before dark as well as I was too scared to try. I was happy I had enough to eat with me, but no warm sleeping bag. The nights are still cold here and at this high especially. Fortunately the warden helped me out with a quite warm one. By the way I never tried to reach the top of the Pinnacle, because the rest of the trail was declared to be for hikers, but I have seen photographs and I know since that, I took the right decision.

I froze anyway the most of the night even I slept in all my clothes, I was wearing during my walk. While I was eating my breakfast another hiker offered me coffee, what I was grateful about. I asked the warden how much it would cost to come down by a helicopter, because I had seen a helicopter platform close to the hut. He told me that it would cost a couple of thousand dollars, though I had to walk all the way back I was coming. He also said, that I am brave, who had made all the way up by my own. The only other trail in the same direction was even more steep. Fortunately the weather has been dry since noon the day before. Therefore it was a little easier to walk. I also met other people from the backpacker’s hostel. They were on their way up, but promised to help me on my way back for the difficult part, if I will not find another one to help me. They also told me, that walking the trail is so exhausting.

Once I have got a helping hand of a young man over a stream. He was on his way together with his mother. The most scary part I did by my own, although I used the emergency swing bridge for a part of it. Even to reach that bridge was a little dangerous. From the end of the trail I was hitchhiking with a worker of the DOC, who cared about the toilets and litter boxes for the camping grounds. Finally I pampered myself with a pie and two glasses of cold chocolate at the cafe of the visitors center. The world looked brighter after it again and only the unsealed road was left, which I managed well, too.

Back at the Sunkist hostel I booked for one more night and was doing my washing before I was to the city center, surfing outside the Spark shop and eating a pizza at Pizza Hut. By the way here in New Zealand washing clothes is done in cold water, the washing detergents are produced for that, though it becomes really clean anyway.

I am getting a little confused by the time shift. We are 12 hours ahead of Sweden and I hope the birthday greetings for my eldest son will be at the right time, sending them during the evening or night. However I am on my way to Rotorua now. I had to send my host an email because I will arrive a day later than agreed.

To go from Thames to Rotorua the best way by scooter is to head to Hamilton, all other roads would be to winding and narrow. So I did. I was thinking about to fill my tank with petrol in Hamilton and even take a rest there, but I only came to the outskirts of the town. Though I decided for a detour to Cambridge. There I found a cafe in a former church very close to the gas station, where I filled the tank with petrol. I had a snack and a Cappuccino in the “church”.

I continued to Rotorua. My host would not be at home before 5pm and I was more than three hours early, though I decided to drive to the city center and take a look. That was a bad decision for a policeman in a police car asked me to stop and drive aside. The police officer’s first question was “Whom’s is the scooter?” He asked for my driver’s licence, too, of course. Than he asked me about my soars on my left hand and my nose. I answered at it was, that I had fallen over a chain by photographing and that the sore on my nose was by a sunburn. The officer than explained to me, that I took too much space on the road, especially for I am not driving as fast as the cars and that it is not good to drive with that heavy backpack. He ask me about my destination and if I know where the street is, I have to go to. He also wrote my name and date of birth in his book. Finally he and his colleague were escorting me and transporting my backpack to the address of my host. I parked the scooter in the garden, put the backpack behind a shed and was going by bus back to the city. Later my host picked me up at the iSite there. I did not use my scooter during my stay in Rotorua, afraid of, that the police will catch me another time.

My host was Maori and a single mum of a 2 1/2-year-old daughter. She is a lovely girl, even with the natural behaviour of a child in that age. My host is speaking Maori with her daughter, but she also understand and talks English even she visits a Maori playschool. My host prepared a meal for us. After the dinner we watched TV and I have got to know about the Maori TV. She also invited me for Christmas to Opotiki, where she will celebrate Christmas with other members of her tribe. Unfortunately I had to decline, because the village is too far from my route.

After a restful night in an own bedroom and a light breakfast I was going to Rotorua again. Actually I missed a bus by forgetting the map, my host had prepared for me and I was going back to fetch it. The bus for the city center runs only twice an hour and is not often in time. The last bus in the evening from the city center is at 6pm! This day I was to Whakarewarewa, the Maori village to learn about Maori culture. The guiding was for 35 NZD including the performance of a Maori family. The guide was great. She told us, why the first guides were women and only during the last years also men started working as a guide. She explained the meaning of the name Whakarewarewa as well as the history of the village and the eruption of the mountain Tarawera, where the former village Te Wairoa has been. She told about the way of cooking by using the geysers and how the houses were built before – without kitchen, because there was no need for it. Furthermore she explained that the village is the home of the families of the tribe and all relatives, who are living elsewhere can come home to that village and always will be welcomed. Maori people are caring and visitor friendly. She also talked about the Maori village with the longest name (96 letters) as well as she explained the name and much more. Afterwards I watched the performance, that means the way how Maori were preparing for fights. The mother did explain a lot about it at the beginning of the show, what I welcomed. At the end of the visit I also looked at the items in the souvenir shops, but did not buy anything, because I do not have the possibility to carry it with me.

I did not have change for the bus back to the city, because I had thrown a 2 NZD coin from the bridge into the river where Maori children were swimming to catch the money. A girl dit it and put the money in her mouth like a hamster does with food. I was hungry, too and found a hamburger bar close to the village. The owner was closing down for the day, but sold anyway a lasagna to me. I had to take it away. That was no problem, because there were a bench close to the bar. The way to the city center where only two kilometers and I walked it, looking around and being surprised about all the motels, hotels and resorts. I understood that the hot pools in the surroundings have to be the reason for these.

I have been at the iSite twice this day, because there is free wi-fi, I could charge my tablet and I was asking how I could find the river jet, actually it is Riverjet, where I should meet my next host, a Maori as well. There was even time enough to look for a “New Zealand t-shirt”, but I did not find one I liked. My host picked me even that evening up by car.

It is the 19th December and I am leaving Rotorua. First I drive right away to the Suzuki dealer, trying to sell the scooter. I actually was thinking about it for a while by different reasons, but I did not have decided if I will try to sell it in Wanganui, Wellington or Christchurch. Ian had told me, that the roads on the South Island are as good as on the North Island, but Christchurch has steep roads and anyway the roads can be winding. Meanwhile I compare this with his tip about the Kauaeranga trail to the Pinnacle Hut, I think he described the things from his New Zealand way of sight and experience, but I have other preferences. The police officer helped me to my decision to sell the scooter as soon as possible. I am also afraid to be in their roles one more time and maybe will be deported from New Zealand. Maybe I am wrong, but as a stranger in their country I try to make my best to follow their laws and rules. This even looking forward to my visas for Australia, Canada and the USA. The visa for Australia I already got can be recalled.

The dealer was surprised about the price I had to pay for the scooter at Coleman’s in Auckland. He told me, that the noise of the motor do not sounds good either. Furthermore he said, that he actually not was thinking about to buy a scooter for the moment. At the end he offers me 1000 NZD. I made the deal being sure, that I would not get more in Christchurch either, at the end of the season. The dealer seemed to be surprised about my decision, but I have got the 1000 NZD and he the scooter as well as the helmet and the can.

Now I tried hitchhiking in real. A lot of car drivers do not care at me, one showed me the finger, but only some minutes later a young woman picked me up. She lives around halfway where I have to go and left me close to her home, but on a save place. Once again it only takes some minutes and a young man picks me up. He will visit a friend some kilometers before my destination. He told me, that he will drive me all the way if I am still there, when he will come back with his friend. Before leaving Rotorua I had sent a message to my next host. At this point he was calling me, asking me, where I am. With the help of the GPS I told him and he picked me up, telling me, that he could had picked me up in Rotorua as well. The most funny thing of this day is, that he was driving back to Rotorua to make his shopping. On the way to his home he showed me some attractions like the warm and cold stream and the mud pools.

Arriving at his home I am a little surprised. In his profile on http://www.couchsurfing.org he has written, that he neither has fluent water and electricity nor a WC, but I did not expect that he has his recycling next door. His home desperately needs painting as well. The closet has no light, of course and the door is hard to close. Grant is an awesome guy. He speaks like a 20-year-old and when he wears his sun hat I could not imagine that he is nearly 50 years old. This evening also three travellers in a camper van arrived. Together with them Grant showed us the private hot pool – no tourists – we were taking a wonderful warm bath there. Back at his home we had a beer and a good conversation. The other guests prepared a meal for all of us.

Grant is a teacher for Maori culture. He also helps his tribe with projects, like a vegetable garden. He know how to get money from the government. His dream is to restore the Marae (meeting hall) of his mother’s tribe.  He tries to learn European languages. Every guest with another language has to tribute with some phrases as well as the alphabet of its language including to explain the pronunciation to him. He has two dreams. The first I already told here, the other is to start travelling Europe when he fills 50.

The next morning, after a bath in the hot pool, he took us to members of his tribe. Here I saw, that they can have a proudly clean home, even one can see, some of these families are poor. We were also shown the garden, which still is in its beginning. He continued with us in the direction of Taupo and showed us the “Rapid” and some waterfalls. One of them are the Huka Falls with water white as ice and a crystal clear blue. We had a meal from the supermarket together before Grant finally drove me to the highway to Napier.

Even this day I have got a ride in some minutes. A man in his fifties picked me up and drove me nearly to the home of my next host. During the drive he explained the special views of the surroundings for me. This was as well exciting like the landscape itself. One of the good things with hitchhiking is, that I do not need care about the traffic and fully can concentrate on all the wonderful views.

I had to wait for around half an hour before my host came home from work, but it was a wonderful sunny day and I enjoyed my life. Murray invited me to a barbecue meal and strawberries with chocolate ice cream as a dessert. His wife is a nurse and unfortunately she had to work late shift, but she had prepared the room very lovely for me – with a little Christmas gift for me.

After the evening meal Murray took a walk with me and showed me the harbour and the old part of Napier, which was named Ahuriri by the Maoris, who were the first settlers here. He also told me about the big earthquake in 1931, when most of the town was destroyed. The buildings, which was not effected of the earthquake, the big fire took, which broke out directly afterwards. The history of Napier is really interesting, you can read more about it by following the link.

Next morning I have got to know Ann, the nurse. She is as lovely as someone can be. She also invited me for a late breakfast at a cafe. Unfortunately she had to go to work again,  but it is easy to walk around and find the way in Napier. I bought a leaflet for a walk by my own to all the amazing Art Deco buildings. I started at the Art Deco Museum with the movie about the earthquake. I was the only watching person, but the movie runs twice an hour.

By the rebuilding of the town Napier became well-known as the Art Deco City. That was one of the reasons why I visited this town and the only thing, I do not like, is, that I cannot attend the festival in February, where people will be dressed in clothing of the 1920s and old-timer cars will visit from all over the world. I really enjoyed what I saw.

Unfortunately art cannot feed, though I ate a kebab around 5pm at the  Cafe Anatolia. The offer of food from abroad is here as usual as it is in Europe and even here local food you have to look for especially. Often it is more expensive than from the food chains. What would an Art Deco city be without an Art Deco restaurant? Unfortunately it was not open.

On my way back to my host I came across Clive Square. Here I heard and saw a band as well there were food served. Actually I could not find out the reason for this and my host was also a bit surprised even he welcomed the event. I found a stairway up to the area where my host is living, but had to find out if it is public. It is! Murray and me watched a while the TV, later on he pampered me with strawberries and chocolate ice cream as well as tea and fruit cake. Furthermore I updated my tablet, because I was updating the system, it took a while and I was quite late to bed.

After my laundry (I am always happy and thankful when I can do my laundry at my host’s) I walked down to the city center again and started on the seaside Art Deco walk, but I got tired and was sitting on a bench at the beach for almost an hour. I was totally unwinding or, how the Germans say, “ich habe meine Seele baumeln lassen”.

Back to the real life, I ordered a Cappuccino at the “Six sisters” and was disappointed that the houses did not have the same colours as on the t-shirts I nearly had bought one of (I was not willing to pay 45 NZD for a t-shirt!). Back home at my host I took down my clothes from the line and made my notices about the day already at 8pm.

I also looked up how to go further and find out, that I, without the scooter, may not be able to go to the hostel “National Park”, situated at the edge of the Tongariro National Park. It was not possible to go there by bus and for hitchhiking I thought it would be too far for a day’s hike, especially on such a day. I already had booked a bed for four nights, but I cancelled.

I asked two people in Wanganui for a couch and got positive response from both of them. They also answered quite fast, depending on, that we already have been in contact with each other. I discussed with Ann, if I could hitchhike from Napier to Wanganui by an afternoon, but she recommended me to go by bus. I checked the InterCity bus as well as the Naked bus, but it was only possible to go by InterCity during the same day. Though I booked.

It was 23rd of December and my last hours in Napier. When Ann and I left their home by car the sky was grey, fortunately it became better soon. She drove with me to the “Te Mata Peak”. On our way she explained where the sea  eats of the land and the road becomes more and more narrow. The view from the Te Mata Peak was gorgeous! From up there I saw mountains and hills everywhere around. It reminded me a little on Ireland, but here it was much greater, much more amazing – breathtaking!

I had to be at the bus stop at Napier at 1:30, though we did not have a lot of time left, but we took a look at the chocolate factory on the way as well as in the vintage souvenir shop, where I bought a typical New Zealand glass ring. It is easy to carry and a nice reminder of the good days here.

I was in time at the bus stop, but not the bus. There were other buses and it was not easy at all to find out, if it was the right one or not, because the route number on the ticket did not help. The buses only showed destinations and not route numbers. It took a whole hour before “my bus” arrived. The driver explained, that it was for the Christmas traffic in Wellington.

I had to change bus in Palmerston North and there was the same mess, even we only had to wait for ca. 45 minutes. I called my host, when I finally arrived in Wanganui and he picked me up by car some minutes later. We had to go to the supermarket before going to his home, which he shares with a mate. It was planned, that both of us as well as his sister, who also where staying at him’s, will be at the countryside for Christmas with another host. The other host had asked for bringing a dessert. I did not need long time to decide. I offered to cook a Swedish Christmas dessert “Ris a la Malta”, bought generous with ingredients, because they are not expensive. Later that evening Blaise’s sister told me, that she had been hitchhiking from Napier this day and has been lucky, because she had one driver for all the way.

The upcoming morning (Christmas Eve) I went to the Pharmacy and even to the supermarket again, because I was not sure, that I bought enough of milk the day before and I also would put an almond in the rice pudding, the dessert is made of. I went back and cooked the rice pudding before I was going to the iSite to see, what to do in Wanganui. The city is not big at all, even it is nice and has never been destroyed. It is by a river and a part is also on the other side of the river containing a tower.

I am interested in art – as I told you before, but the most museums and art exhibitions are closing down at 4pm, even on other days. I had the opportunity to visit one of the art exhibitions, partly placed in the same building as the iSite, partly in another building straight across the street. I walked the town, tried to get a look through the windows into museums and enjoyed the parks. I ordered roasted lamb with wedges at one of the few restaurants, which still were open.

I went back to Blaise’s. He was still at work – he had a very long day this day. I wrote Christmas greetings by email. I hope I did not forget anyone. When Blaise finally came home we talked a view words and went than to bed. My son Samuel called at midnight (noon in Sweden). We talked as well as my daughter in law, my son Daniel and my daughter talked with me. They were all together in Stockholm.

On Christmas Day my host and me had breakfast at the same time, even I had to contribute my own cereals, yogurt etc. Afterwards I packed my belongings together and was waiting for the magical word, that we should go by car to the countryside for the Christmas barbecue. Meanwhile I have got the feeling I was waiting for Godot, even I was not talk active. Around noon we started from Blaise’s, but were first driving to a 24/7 open recycling station. There were no employees, therefore the great opening hours. Actually it was a kind of wall with lots of holes and behind each of them a container. I have never before seen such an exact recycling – not even in Sweden were we really recycle well. Even Blaise and his sister were not used to it. Anyway they tried their best to follow the rules.

Around half an hour later we were at the Bebarfald bequest. There were already some couch surfers and a lot of food including salad and vegetables. The fridge was already overloaded and I had to go to another house to put the dessert in another fridge. Soon we helped our host David with the decoration of the open hall, where the dinner should be. All the rest of the afternoon we hung around before someone told us, that the barbecue dinner will be at 7pm. Some started to prepare salad and vegetables, another one cooked the potatoes. Meanwhile two elderly gentlemen joined us. We had a good conversation for a while. More people arrived soon.

The Christmas dinner was served around a table nobody could sit around, because the china and the cutlery stands there as well as some of the dishes. The cold cut ham was there as well. Though there were two rows of chairs – one of each side of the table, but far away. Even a third row was started, on a short side, but also this one long from the table.

During the evening I learned, that the elderly gentlemen were widowers and David, who is a kind of priest (I think), invited them because he cares about people, even he does not tell about God all the time. He lives the love of God, it seems to me. He never asked us couch surfer about our relation to God. Furthermore he welcomed e.g. Jewish couch surfer, too.

We ate as much as we could of all kind of food – grilled sausage, grilled lamb chop, ham, vegetables and salad. The “Ris a la Malta”-dessert was very appreciated.

It was quite late before most of the people were driving home. I had got a room in the other house, because David wished to do my well. Unfortunately I prefer to socialize, but I still had the opportunity for it by visiting the upper house during day time and evening hours.

 

The following day, here called “Boxing day”, in the English-speaking countries in Europe “Stephen’s day”, in “Sweden “Annandag jul” and in Germany “2. Weihnachtstag” I followed David to the for Wanganui traditional motorcycle race “The circuit” at the cemetery. Two other couch surfers did this as well. I followed to learn about the traditions. It was surprising to me, to walk around the cemetery – some people even walked over the graves. In addition to that on such a day for such a reason.

 

After a while I walked to town for the “Boxing day sale”. I hoped, I could find a good camera for a good price. Actually I found the same model of camera as I was looking at in Napier, but here the original price was 30 NZD higher than in Napier. It was announced in Wanganui for 50 NZD off because “Boxing day”. It really seems to be a good camera  (Nikon, 16 megapixel, 20 x zoom, wi-fi and a really light-weight). I did not make it easy for the seller, because it was not easy for me to decide if I will buy a new camera and if I will pay the asked price. I decided to buy it, because I thought, I certainly will not get it cheaper somewhere else. Finally I got it for 370 NZD (~ 230 EUR, ~ 2130 SEK, ~ 253 USD).

I went back with my bargain to the competition and met up with the others again. Around 3pm we went back to the countryside in David’s car. As soon as we were back, I unpacked the camera and tried to make better photographs as before. Alexander, a Brazilian, who also has a tourist visa, but try to stay forever, cooked a spaghetti-meal and shared it with us. Later that evening I was in the upper house for the wi-fi, but I did not write a lot in my blog because other couch surfers were there and also David joined us for a while. I preferred the conversation. David told me this evening, that I am allowed to use the red car and to meet at the iSite at 12:30pm the upcoming day.

So I did. I found the way into Wanganui by car easily, but not really the iSite, therefore I parked close to it. The good thing was, that I parked in the shadow under a tree. I meet David only some minutes late at the iSite. He was still waiting for a couple from Israel. When they arrived, David invited all of us for a coffee. Thereafter we entered the museum together and David explained the history of Wanganui as well as the “Treaty of Waitangi” for us with the help of the items and photographs at the museum. He was talking so interesting! I loved to listen to him and I would have liked to listen much longer. During the conversation he also told us, that he studied social work. I think he was born for social work.

The couple left us to explore Wanganui by their own and to eat something, because they even had not had breakfast. David and me were going by his car to the library and picked up Alexander. We continued together to the Durie Hill tower on the other side of the river. We parked on the hill, close to the tower. Alexander and me decided to walk all the 176 steps up to the top of the tower, though David was following us and explained at the top, what we were looking at. By this I also got an answer for my question about the white top of the mountain in the Tongariro National park, which is seen here, too. It is not the colour of the mountain, it is snow, what one can see at the top.

Meanwhile David and Alexander were going back to the countryside, I had to go back by my own in the other car. I told them, that I am not sure, that I will find the way back. So it was! I took off to early and there was no way to go from the one valley I was into the other, I should have driven through. I became confused and had to call David. Thanks to the GPS I could tell him where I was and he gave me the directions – all the time not more than I could remember, though I had to call him three times. He was very patient and understanding. His first reaction was, when I told him, where I was, that he told me with a smile, that I am somewhat off the beaten track.

This evening I tried again to update my blog, but I did not write much. I was watching TV with the others. By the way my mp3-player is working again, maybe it was getting too warm before or the battery shows full, but is not, because I charge it with a 12V-ipod-adapter.

This day I tried to take a shower (not the only and not the first time in NZ ;-)). Unfortunately there was no warm water, but I washed my trousers and some other clothes, because I unfortunately got coffee on my trousers the day before. After breakfast I was going to the main house again for the wi-fi. Alexander and the girls asked me for going to the city. I had also the need to buy something – lucky them, because I had to drive. Unfortunately nobody had told me before about the specialty of the car, though the battery was not working. We could go to the city anyway, because Alexander did roll the car, though I was able to start it. I tanked it, but none of the other was asking for sharing the costs.

In Wanganui we were walking in two pairs, the younger girls and Alexander and me. He was hungry, afterwards we went to a kind of supermarket, but they have much more to offer. Here I found surprisingly that “different NZ-t-shirt” I was looking for to the cost of only 5 NZD. This time I have not got lost on the way back, because I remembered more now and Alexander helped me with the rest. Back “home” I cooked a simple Swedish meal for us by some of the left overs from Christmas. We call it “pytt i panna”. The others enjoyed the meal too and all the dish were eaten, what I had prepared. Alexander called me an Angel for the first time, but I am not.

Another day and I will leave this welcoming place. I really enjoyed the time here and I would have loved to spend more time with David. I never got to know if he travelled a lot before – maybe also with his family. I would have loved to know how he can be so happy and gentle all the time and if there are things he cannot cope with. I think everyone has such things. I have to go on because I will see as much as possible of New Zealand and learn as much as possible about the culture here. Another place for New Years Eve will be fine.

I will go to Greytown / Wellington 2nd January (2016), therefore I decided to go to Palmerston North, which is the sixth biggest city in New Zealand and an intersection for the public buses on the North Island. I also decided to hitchhike again after an earlier talk with David and Blaise’ sister. Furthermore there are only 70 kilometers from this place to my next destination. It should not take more than two hours, to go there.

I made the laundry (the bed linen and towels I have used), ate breakfast and packed my backpack. After hanging the items on the cloth-lines I ate another Toast, said good-bye to the others and asked then one of the couch surfers to drive me to hwy 3, so she did.

As usual I was not waiting for a long time for a ride. A nice gentleman on the way to Wellington picked me up. We had a good conversation. In Sanson he asked me to go further with someone else, because he will not go via Palmerston North. He felt sorry, that he could not bring me all the way. I was thankful to him and prepared for the next part of the route. Actually I did not see the car, which stopped and the young driver was coming to me, asking me where I will head. He did not only take me to Palmerston North, but also to the backpacker’s hostel I named him. I do not know if it is because my age or if people here are so thoughtful about everyone. I think, I will never find out. The whole trip did not take fully two hours.

I checked in at the “Pepper Tree”. Here all is really basic, no breakfast, no free coffee or tea and for the wi-fi I have to pay for, but the first mb. I went to the city for buying an evening meal and breakfast as well as instant coffee. When I put my food in the fridge at the backpackers a man in my age was eating in the kitchen and I started a conversation. He is from Wales, UK and very satisfied with this hostel. Later on I used the free wi-fi to check the other hostels in town, which were popping up on Google. The Grandma’s is not really a hostel, but an B&B and offers no Internet at all, but the Railway Hotel is also a hostel and offers budget accommodation for backpackers as well. They also offer free, unlimited wi-fi and free coffee. Even a basic (light) breakfast is included. Though I book three nights there. I am happy that I so far only booked and paid one night at the “Pepper Tree”.

Next morning I checked out from the “Pepper Tree” and locked my big backpack in a box at the iSite. I had to pay 5 NZD, because the fee is time related. I explored the city a little more and visited one part of the art museum. After that I picked my backpack up and went to the “Railway hotel”, which is easily to find at the Main Street. I was still a little early, but friendly welcomed. I was shown the important facilities and all about coffee, breakfast, wi-fi and the check out was explained to me. What a difference to the hostel before! Should you ever come to Palmerston North and look for a place to stay overnight, try this!

By the way it seems, that many hostels has no vacancies during the Christmas’ holidays, but the days around New Years festivities there are lots of vacancies, though I have my own room again.

I walked back to the city center again and visit the other part of the art museum. Then I went to the Rugby museum, too, but this is one of the few museums one has to pay an entrance fee. I am not interested enough in Rugby to pay 12,50 NZD, even Rugby and New Zealand is related to each other. The “All Black” won the World Cup last year.

I walked back to the city center to find something to eat. Not many restaurants were open because Christmas’ and school holidays. Anyway I found an inexpensive restaurant, which sells healthy food – the Pita Pit and ordered a regular wholemeal pita med falafel and lots of different salads. Afterwards I walked to the Square and enjoyed the outdoors. I also watched the workers preparing the scene for the event “New Years Eve at the Square”.

Finally the last day of the year 2015 has come. During the day I updated my blog, because the good and free wi-fi connection. Anyway I did not make it further than until 25th December. I  got hungry and went to a take away restaurant very close to the hostel. I bought a chicken burger and wedges. Meanwhile the chicken burger was eatable, they consistency of the wedges was disgusting.

Around 6pm I went to the Square and listened to the music. A young group was singing and playing ABBA songs. I could not help, I had to dance, even I did not see any other person dance. The following group was barbershop singers. I also bought something to eat and a bottle of still water of all the few cars selling around the Square this day. It became cold by the wind, therefore I went back to the hostel. Unfortunately I had to charge the tablet and could not use it, but I still had my mp3-player, though I listened to music. At 11pm I was on my way to the Square and the event again. I was eager to learn how the New Year is celebrated here.

The music during the last hour was not what I liked, but I stayed anyway. The last seconds before midnight there were a countdown and directly after it the fireworks. I did not hear anyone screaming  “Happy New Year”, maybe I just did not hear it by the noise of the fireworks. Nobody said cheers either, because alcohol was prohibited at the Square. Lots of wardens, security personal and police officers were all the time walking around the area, though nobody could act against the law. In addition to that I did not see people hugging or kissing each other, maybe they did while I watched the intensive, but very short fireworks.

 

2016

I was on my way back to the hostel a few minutes after the fireworks. The Square became empty very fast, people were going to their cars and leaving the city center. When I entered the hostel the owner as well as the helper wished me a happy new year. The owner even told me, that he had watched the fireworks i Sydney on TV and that they had fireworks for twenty minutes. The helper did open the door of the room for me, even I have had the key in my hand. I thought, they may check if I am sober. I twittered a happy new year, put the alarm clock on, though I won’t be late to wish my children a happy and healthy new year at noon NZ-time.

I awoke as usual, but felt a little tired. I ate a late breakfast, emailed all my Australian, Canadian helpx-hosts and even the one in the USA, before I went out for a meal around 2pm. I was going to the Barista Cafe and ordered a “Beef salad” with a NZ-“Gorgonzola” and walnuts. I took only water to drink, which is served for free to meals. One of the ingredients was sweet / sour plums and their dressing. Unfortunately I did not like that taste even the price for the meal was very high.

I walked around the city center after the meal and continued with my blog, when I was back at the hostel. I did it. I have got up to date with the text. Unfortunately I need almost one more day to insert photographs. I promise, I will do that as soon as possible as well I will try to update the text daily. All belongs to the wi-fi-connections.

This day I was going further to Greytown. Judy is awaiting me there, I know here by couchsurfing from Hamburg, but we only met, because she was staying with her son, who works in Hamburg. I hitchhiked again, but this time I had to wait a little longer – actually for half an hour. An elderly gentleman picked me up. He told me, that he also has been hitchhiking when he had been young. We had a nice conversation and I could go with him to Woodville. It took me only 15 minutes for the next ride, but it was only halfway to my destination. Anyway it brought me further. The nice young man was also talk active and he let me out close to a petrol station in the hope, that I easily will get the next hike from there. An elderly couple came walking and spoke with me, but soon I was picked up again. This time it was an engineer around fourty in a little more sporty car. He was very nice, too. He was on his way to Wellington and dropped me off in the center of Greytown.

I had to find the East Street. I had looked it up already and knew, that it was the next from the Main Street, but I was not sure, if it will be on my left hand side or on the right hand side. Though I asked people on the street. The other one gave me the direction. I walked there and then 5 minutes on the named street and I reached my goal, but I could not force the gate. Therefore I called my friend and she came and opened.

She has a nice and big house, where we spent the rest of the day, but a short walk with the puppy. She pampered me with meals as well. In the evening we were watching TV and afterwards the movie “Good Bye Lenin” in German, because Judy is learning German and I would like to see this movie for a long time, but never have had the opportunity.

The bed is very high, because it has en extra mattress, though I nearly could not enter it, but I slept very well in it.

It is Sunday, therefore we decided to do things in Greytown, because the commuter train is only coming back from Wellington at 6.55. During weekdays it runs every second hour. In the morning we were going to the little crafts market, which runs every first Sunday of a month. I bought lavender cream for my hands, because they are often very dry and I need a cream anyway. We also went to the museum. Unfortunately I do not have my camera with me, but Judy took a lot of photographs with her phone, which she later on shares with me by bluetooth. On the way back to Judy’s home we met neighbours to her. Judy introduce me to everyone of them.

After a light lunch we are going by car around Greytown and to a neighbouring city, called Martinborough. In Greytown she showed me the park with a camping ground and the new areas. She even told me, that some of the houses in Greytown are relocated from other places, though I told her about my experience to meet a house on a trailer. In the other city we meet a couple of her friends. I also have a good opportunity to see the little city. At least we are talking about the system of getting a driver’s licence and I am very surprised, that 15-year-old teenagers already are allowed to drive. Judy thinks, it is because there are only 4 million people living in New Zealand and I tell her, that it anyway is dangerous, especially in Auckland (1,5 million inhabitants) or other bigger cities. It is raining all the afternoon and evening.

When I awoke this day, the sky was blue and cloudy. It was only 15° C. Fortunately it was not raining this day at all. It is the 4th January and a public holiday by the reason, that the 2nd January was on a Saturday – a day which already is a holiday here. That is strange for me. For the first, that the 2nd January is a public holiday and for the second, that public holidays, which are on a Saturday or Sunday, will be transferred to the following weekday. Therefore 25th December will be public holiday on 27th December this year and the number of public holidays will every year be the same. On public holidays the commuter train to Wellington is not running often at all and I was hitchhiking again. I have got the first ride after 5 minutes. I think, he was a farmer. He told me, that New Zealand has changed a lot and he no longer enjoy it like before, because there has only been 3 million inhabitants for a long time and during the last few years the number raised into 4 million. He was surprised about, that there are 9 million people living in Sweden and found it horrible, that Germany has 90 million inhabitants. He was only going to Featherstone, but left me at a good place for hitchhiking.  I think, I was only waiting for 2 minutes, when I got another ride, this time by a Maori man with his daughter. He took me to Wellington and explained to me, where the cable car starts, that I should walk the seaside, where I should go and eat and what I should order there. Finally he drove me to the Te Papa Museum.

I started at the 6th floor with the special exhibition and went then down to the 5th floor for the permanent art gallery, which also includes a photography section. When I finished this section, I became so hungry, that I had to go and eat.

I went to the restaurant the Maori driver recommended me and I ordered “Egg Benedict” – another recommendation of him. I ordered the original, the one with bacon.

After the meal I looked for the cable car and was queuing for it. Half an hour later I was on the top, enjoying the view on Wellington. I continued to the cable car museum and went afterwards down to the city throughout the Botanical gardens. The walk was at its end by the cemetery. Coming out of it, two girls where asking me, if there is a way through to the highway, but there was not. I recommended them to go by train outside Wellington and start in Upper Hutt, because close to and in Wellington the highway is a motorway – not good for hitchhikers. The girls became disappointed. They were wearing heavy backpacks and also other bags.

 

The 5th Jan I took the ferry from Wellington to Picton. To Wellington I was hitchhiking again. Also this day the first one, who stopped was only on his way to Featherstone. He was nice and explained, that last time he was taking a hitchhiker, was “yesterday”. It seems much easier to find a hike in Featherstone as in Greytown, because the second ride I have got very quickly. It was a nice couple from Auckland in clothing from India or there around. They stopped at a scenic view, though we could enjoy and take photographs. They also drove me to the ferry terminal, but unfortunately to the wrong one. Therefore I have got half an hours walk, but that did not matter. I was anyway in time. I left my luggage and entered the city one more time. I took this opportunity to buy something to eat in a convenience shop as well as I took some more photos. A nice Kiwi from the South Island took photos of me with my camera.

Onboard I have seen the most scenic views in my life, because around the sea are lots of islands with mountains. The weather was great, but a little windy, though it felt a little chilly.

To read about my experiences on the South Island of New Zealand click here, please.

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