Cloudy weather (well, that’s why they call it land of the long white cloud I suppose), but not to cold, that was my first impression of Auckland. The bus ride (22 kiwi dollar) took me straight to the hostel and the first two nights at X-BASE where booked in no time. Amazing how relaxed I’ve become about accommodation, in my early days of traveling, it was obligatory to book at least my first night in advance, but even that is not needed anymore.I spent my first day exploring the neighborhood (downtown Auckland and the harbor) and getting to know the city. I always start with a walking tour to get a feeling for the city. At night I went to the “First Base” bar and spent the evening with Laura and Laureen, both from the mighty Sherwood Forrest aka Nottingham. Both girls joined an amateur table dance competition but the cheering of the support team was not enough and they where beaten by a local. But over all Not to bad for my very first day!
29th of September, Stray Orientation Day
Choosing how to travel around New Zealand was my first priority for this day. A camper van would definitely mean a lot of freedom to choose where to go, but ultimately I did not want to be stuck with just one or two fellow travelers (well… the hot tall Swedish girl wasn’t interested…) and decided to chose one of the major backpacker bus companies. Books can provide you with a lot of information’s, but first hand experience by fellow travelers are the best, even (or especially) if they come from a stoned young Irish man .
Kiwi Experience and Stray offer free “orientation tours” to Auckland and luckily I opted for the Stray one. “Worm”, a 20something Canadian and Wannabe Kiwi was the guide for the day and he did an excellent job showing the group of backpackers around the city. His two favorite lines where “Sweet As” & “There you go”, which he constantly used when talking about the sights of Auckland and the opportunities that where offered through out the country.
Funny “Did you know” fact”, provided by Worm on his tour: Mount Eden, one of the many extinct volcanoes around Auckland was the stage for what must be one of the most genius pranks in human history (well, beside that nasty Trojan horse prank way back in ancient times by Odysseus and his henchmen). A couple of unknown heroes drove up Mount Eden at night, rolled down some old tires into the crater and lit them up. In the early morning hours they called up the local radio station to inform the city that good old Mount Eden was on fire… 3000 people had to be evacuated from the area and it took the police quiet a while till the found out that the city wasn’t in danger to become a 21st century Pompeii.
At the end of the day I bought a Stray ticket to travel around the north Island and was ready to start my adventure. So Worm, if you read this, you did a good job!