A Travellerspoint blog

Tango, Flu, Volcanoes, Decisions...and Auckland

First two weeks in Auckland NZ!

all seasons in one day 13 °C
View New Zealand on KLL100's travel map.

I'm writing about the past...a month in the past, but will hopefully catch you up quickly. Arrived into Auckland late at night and found my way via shuttle to my gigantic hostel. The hostel was in a great location right in the city center, had a huge computer lounge, job placement center, travel desk, and all of the conveniencies I would need this first week...for planning purposes. While most of these things were very helpful...the fact that the hostel was so large and busy made it a very impersonal place and made it difficult to meet anyone and remain in close contact. Slept in a dorm room with 6 beds, but rarely saw anyone else in the room. Usually, people got in late and left early in the morning to move on elsewhere in the country.

Spent the first day getting things like my NZ tax number, cell phone, and job opportunities figured out. Went for a quick walk around the city and was surprised by what I discovered...seemed that everyone on the city streets was foreign. Mostly Asian...I can actually remember thinking that my hostel was in China Town..and then figuring out later that the entire Central Business District was very similar. The city felt very foreign and busy...which were two opposite aspects of what I was looking for in NZ. I came here because I thought it wouldn't feel extremely different and would be full of relaxed and friendly people. It was difficult to be in this situation all alone. I was struggling with figuring out what my first step needed to be...whether I should travel by public bus, buy a car here in Auckland, hop on one of the busses designed for backpackers...where should I head first...? The North Island is supposed to be best in the summer, but I was here in the winter, and it was a long way to the South Island...how do I buy a car, are there things I should watch out for, do I even have enough money, is it a good deal, should I just fly down South, its expensive to just stay at the hostel every night...anyway, you get the idea. There were a million decisions to make, in a foreign place, by myself and with money flying out my account and none coming in. Anyway, I took a step back and realized that any decision I made would be the right one...

I did have one person to call though...the only person I knew in New Zealand...my friend Diego from Argentina. When I studied in Argentina my junior year, I had lived at his family's house in Cordoba. He had come to Auckland two months prior to start his own Tango classes. So I met with Diego an he welcomed me into his flat to stay with him. I accepted, so that I'd have a place that could become familiar, a place where I could comfortably keep food. I moved in with Diego and slept in my sleeping bag on couch cusions I would put on the floor in the very small living room, which was also the kitchen, and dining area. A few days later I caught a bad case of the flu and literally could not make it up and off the floor in the mornings. Bad fever, cold sweats...headaches....sleeping bag, floor, and too many decisions to make sure that my trip started out the right way.

Diego was in the process of opening a new Tango studio and I spent a lot of time helping him and attending classes with him. There are quite a few Argentines in New Zealand and Diego invited me to come along with him to an Argentinian party at a bar on the harbor. Needless to say, in true Argentine fashion, we got to the party at 12:30am and made it home about 7 hours later. I had two drinks that entire time and spent atleast 6 hours dancing like I knew how to move like everyone else at the party...

Auckland's business district itself was not an impresive place, in my opinion. The buildings are simple, the city itself is busy and as I said before, full of foreigners. However, the geographical and aesthetic location of Auckland City is amazing, due to its surounding. The harbor water is usually a beautiful light green color and the islands visable from the city are covered in dark green grass. There are some nice quaint areas with beaches and big parks. Within Auckland are over 40 active volcanoes, so there are hills, covered in lush grass, that provide wonderful views. One weekend, Diego and I took a ferry out to an Volcanic island (Rangitoto) which is a protected park. Took a hike up to the cone and crater which took about 2 hours and provided panoramic views of the city, its harbor and the surrounding beaches.

After about 10 days of sleeping on the floor, I was very ready to get out of Auckland and really start the adventure. I decided to book a flight and get straight down to Queenstown, where I knew I could catch the end of winter. I could get some skiing in, be in one of the most picturesque places in all of NZ and could likely find work. I had been in touch with a woman who ran a horseback riding company and was looking for a second guide to help her lead rides. I thought this would be a wonderful way to work outdoors. She was offerring a free place to live in exchange for 12 hours of work a week. Seemed pretty easy to me!...

Posted by KLL100 21:15 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Update

Internet cafes get expensive....

all seasons in one day 15 °C
View New Zealand on KLL100's travel map.

Hey all--

Sorry I have not been keeping up with this blog very well. I appreciate everyone who has "subscribed", it really means a lot and its good to see familiar names and know that you're wanting to follow along with my travels.

First off, I miss everyone and miss the routine life I used to live. This is sure different...for instance, I have been sleeping on couch cusions on the floor of a small flat for the past 5 nights....have caught the flu...and couldn't tell you where a doctor was.

No worries though, I am getting over the flu and will be off the floor soon! I've learned that if you keep a positive attitude about everything..nothing seems that bad.

The reason I haven't written is because I have to walk into the city to use the internet and pay for it too. It gets expensive and most of my time is spent writing personal emails...

I am currently in Auckland, which I have found to be just an average place. Its a big city, dirty and buzzing with people, most of them foreign...speaking their own native language. I have booked a flight to Queenstown which is a beautiful place on the South Island, in between mountains and a glassy lake....more what I was looking for. Hopefully there I'll be able to settle down and find work like I had dreamed of. Once I get a permanent internet place I'll add stories and pictures from Fiji and my first couple weeks in Auckland.

Thanks for your patience and "no worries, mate" there will soon be some additions...

Posted by KLL100 21:31 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

FIJI ISLANDS

Arrival In Fiji

sunny 22 °C

Arrived in Fiji after a sleepless flight. I gave up an entire row of seats, which I could have stretched out on, to a couple who had a two year old child that was too big for the airline supplied baby carriage. Grabbed my bags and made it very easily through Customs. My plane had been delayed from LAX four hours, so I had missed the connecting shuttle I was to take to the marina. Instead, I hired a taxi with a driver who's name was Molly. Molly was a male, and the first of many Fijians with a common American name.

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Molly drove me through the streets of Nadi, Fiji (pronounced Nandi). The streets were busy with people standing waiting for busses. The homes were fairly run down but colorfully painted. Mostly made of cinderblock and concrete, with small windows, clothes hang drying on lines, and random household appliances or rusted cars in the yards. A few stray dogs roamed the street and would bark at the cars as the wizzed past. Molly didn't slow for any of them.

After about a 25 minute drive we arrived at Denarau Marina where I was to catch my boat into the beautiful Fiji I had imagined. There are a couple of companies, which actually work together, that provde charter boats from the mainland out to the islands each day. These boats drive in a loop, stopping at certain islands. You are able to hop on and off of the boats and move from island to island. My boat departed at 8:30am. The boat was a modern 250 person catamaran. It had two decks outside which provided great views and a great atmosphere to relax and enjoy meeting fellow travelers. I hadn't booked my first night's accommodation yet and was a bit worried until I spoke with the friendly girls at the bookings desk below.

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I ended up making a booking for a resort located at the top of the Yasawa Island chain, a 4 hour boat ride away. This way I could start at the farthest point and work my way back to the mainland. It would also give me a chance to see each island on the way up and determine which places I wanted to return to.

The weather was perfect, so I hiked up to the top level of the boat and sat on the sun deck. Within 10 minutes drive from the mainland, the water was the deepest blue I've seen. There were sand bars and reefs in the middle of the water that would turn it hundreds of different shades of green and blue. Lush green islands were scattered throughout the blue water, some with high peaks and large rock formations and others with white beaches and palms.

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We drove and stopped at some of them, picking up and dropping off travelers along the way. The system they had for transporting passengers to the different resorts was very interesting to me...little did I know that It would become a common routine later on the trip. A smaller transport boat would motor out from the resort beach and pick up the passengers and luggage from the big boat. If there were people leaving that resort and traveling on the big boat it would bring them out to the big boat and they'd load on.

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As more and more people boarded and unboarded the boat I noticed that everyone seemed to know each other. At first it was a bad feeling since I was alone, but then once I asked most people I found that they had just met the other travelers on the islands they had just come from and sure enough after a few days in Fiji, I'd be board the boat with friends and be reunited with others I'd stayed with the day before.

After 4 hours of driving, a bit of reading and a lot of talking with people from all over the world...England, Germany, Czech Republic, Canada, Norway, Ireland...we arrived at Tavewa, where I would be staying at Coral View Resort....

Posted by KLL100 16:12 Archived in Fiji Comments (0)

2.5 Weeks Left

Starting the good-byes

-17 °C

Only two and a half weeks left before I'm out and honestly its a very strange feeling. A mix between excitement and anxiety and a combination of happiness and sadness. Excited for all of the new experiences, people and places I will soon see and have, but anxiety over the fact that I have no idea what to expect from this. Will everything go smoothly? Will there be huge issues along the way?... There are times when I feel great about my trip and others when I get a bit nervous...just have to sit back and realize that I'm going to do this either way...so what am I worrying for.

The sadness comes from realizing that I won't see the people I care about for an entire year, if not longer. Leaving friends and family isn't easy but its a step along the way and can't be avoided. So to all of my family and all of you friends...I will be thinking about you and hoping that all is well with you.

An update on the planning...

I've come to the realization that I don't want to try to plan an entire itinerary out for my trip. Its too difficult to do without being there and actually knowing more about NZ. I don't even know by what means I'm going to travel once there....

So, here's what I do have planned:

  • Stop in Fiji where I'll spend 7 days/6 nights (more on this later)
  • First 4 nights booked in a hostel in Auckland
  • Welcome package with airport pickup and orientation to get acquainted

That's it...

About the Fiji trip...When I booked my flight to Auckland on Air Pacific my STA Travel Agent informed me that I could stop in either Fiji or The Cook Islands for free. After a bit of research I decided on Fiji. Mainly I decided on Fiji because there will be more people to travel with and meet in Fiji. Since I am going entirely on my own I'd like to have the opportunity to meet some other travelers right away (no doubt there will be others continuing on to NZ like myself).

I booked my stay on the Islands through a company called Awesome Adventures. They charter a boat that runs every day from the main island all the way up the island chain stopping at most of the small islands. I bought a "Bula Pass" on this boat which is good for 7 days. This means that when I get in, I'll hop off the airplane and onto the boat, ride out to the islands (called Yasawa Islands) and decide which island I want to hop off on. Then I'll stay there for the day/night in a hut on the beach. On the next day, if I want to explore another island, I just hop back on the boat and continue riding it further out into the ocean until I come across a different island that I like. I purchased an "Accommodation Pass" to go along with this boat pass which means that I have pre-payed for my nights on the islands instead of needing to bring additional money. I will let you know how this goes...from a beach in Fiji!

Posted by KLL100 10:37 Archived in USA Tagged preparation Comments (0)

Things I think I'll miss the most

Besides my office cube and Microsoft Excel...

-17 °C

Going to start a list of the items, places, foods, etc. that I think I will really miss over the next year. I'll add to this all the way up until my trip. Then, after I've been in NZ for a while I'll refer back to this and see if its accurate. What do you guys think I'll miss?

  • Chips and salsa with a margarita to wash it down (no doubt I will miss this)
  • My own room
  • Momma
  • FAMILY
  • Austin
  • Texas Longhorn Football
  • FRIENDS
  • Closet and dresser

Posted by KLL100 23:30 Archived in USA Tagged preparation Comments (1)

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