Sunday, February 15, 2009

Off to the land of the Kiwis

How it ends so quickly. Four months in Australia gone in a blink. And I still have yet to travel anywhere outside New South Wales and Victoria.

I arrived at my hostel in Auckland, New Zealand after midnight last night and immediately wandered out onto the street where I met three young delinquents. “Where’s the nearest pub?” with an American accent immediately earned me a can of beer and an escort into heart of the city. They warned about a liquor ban, but everybody around was drinking on the street despite an abundance of cops who seemed completely ambivalent about enforcement of this said ordinance.

After catching the final few songs of a fantastic cover band over an 8 dollar pint of beer, I decided to call it an early night as I hadn’t managed much sleep in my final few days in Sydney. Here’s my first picture in New Zealand:

I spent two of my final four weeks in Sydney on work travel trips south and then north. Revisiting and camping at gorgeous and secluded Racecourse Beach along with getting a great view of a wedge-tailed eagle were probably the highlights. The drive up through the Upper Hunter Valley Sunday was quite scenic as well and we stopped off at a few wineries for some tasting and banter with lonely vintners. We did pass a few anti-scenic huge open cut coal mines, but they served as good motivation for a team of environmentalists. Here’s a sunset in the Upper Hunter:
On my last night I threw a going away party for myself at my flat. The Wilderness Society bought me an Australian bird book, which unfortunately will be dead weight for me in New Zealand, but was a very nice gesture. Everybody signed a card and one creative employee sweetly drew humorous little caricatures with bios of all the employees and several of the different stereotypical people encountered on the street at work. It was great way to say goodbye to everyone and my English flat mate was nice enough to clean up the entire mess (which was quite big) before I even woke up despite the fact that some of my work buddies’ friends were apparently complete dicks to him the night before. He did such a good job cleaning that I even got my entire bond back from my crazy landlord at 1:30 pm the next day! I owe you one mate.

It is always a bit of a transition uprooting oneself from a stable living situation, city, job and social group and hurtling into a new exotic location to start with a clean slate. I promised myself I wouldn’t linger too long in Auckland as my boss advised me that it’s basically just a smaller version of Sydney. New Zealand is about adventures and being outdoors. I haven’t planned a first move yet, but it will likely be to Lake Taupo to see some friends I met through my parents in Sydney who happen to be there for the week. It is also en route to a Kiwi friend I met in the US who lives in Hawk’s Bay. But before I can get out there I have to sort out a few tedious logistics such as my visa back to Australia, return flights, currency exchange and cell phones.

We had some very un-Australian weather for Australia Day:

Hope the elements cooperate in Kiwiland!

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