New Zealand- Round The World Tour 3 2004 Day 386 (196)
Tuesday 29th March (2005)
We said goodbye to John and the very first B&B that we’ve ever stayed in this morning. It was a very positive experience all around even if it was a bit outside of our usual backpacking budget. We only made it as far as the car parked in the driveway, however, before we decided that a change in plans was going to be necessary for today. The Coromandel and its Hot Sand Beach was originally to be our destination for this morning but the sky was overcast with low cloud and there was rain in the air. The weather looked very depressing indeed. The outlook looked extremely drab and not particularly conducing to having a good time buried in sand on the beach during low tide. A snapshot decision was made to skip the Coromandel after all and to head directly to Auckland instead.
With the new plan now in effect, I didn’t want to set off straight away and run into the problem of patchy mobile phone reception so we sat in the driveway for a while ringing around all the backpack hostels in Auckland. Not unsurprisingly, most places we called were either fully booked or too expensive. I was really starting to get worried when one place we called finally decided that they could put us up for the next two nights after all. With a place to stay now sorted, we set off and headed north.
The three and a half hour journey to Auckland might have been quicker if it hadn’t been for all the road works we had to navigate through. New Zealand is one of the more developed countries we’ve visited on this trip and the all too familiar spectre of traffic road works left us both with a bit of a nasty reminder of what life might be like when we return back home again in a few weeks from now.
I called ahead to the airport to verify that they still had our rogue piece of missing baggage. They did, so we diverted there to collect it instead of driving directly into the city centre. It was a bit of a logistical problem trying to figure out what to do with the car whilst I dashed in to collect my autographed boomerang but Sandy managed to drive around the block a few times and thus was successful in avoiding those nasty parking attendants that won’t let you stop the car for more than half a second.
By the time we made it into the city, the familiarity of road works, airports, city traffic and so on had temporarily converted us both back into normal, non-travelling human beings with all the stresses and tempers that go with it. We were both tired and irritable from the journey and extremely glad to have finally found the hostel after several wrong turns, dead ends and one-way systems. Unfortunately, whomever it was that was managing the hostel was nowhere to be found so we had to sit and twiddle our thumbs for an hour or so. Truthfully, this little bit of a timeout did the both of us the world of good. One of the reasons I in particular was thrilled that this hostel still had a room was the fact that they provide free broadband Internet access. I was keen to try it out and noted at least three computers in the house that were hard wired. I’ve been unable to hook up my laptop anywhere ever since we left Hanmer Springs and I was dying to get another update out of the door. We’re near the end of our time here in New Zealand and I also wanted to get a new batch of photos online. Once one of the computers became vacant, I unplugged its network cable to plug into the laptop. After a bit of network re-configuration, I was completely ecstatic to see the connection working at full strength and wasted no time in taking care of all my Internet chores.
The owners finally arrived and we were able to check in. We were given a pretty ragged double room with a very hard bed. This entire hostel is a very ragged affair, in fact, and it’s clear that the owner of this house is lethal with a few DIY tools. Pretty much everything here is either broken or half fixed using only those bits and pieces you might find in a Blue Peter episode (non-English folk will not understand that last bit – sorry). Nevertheless, it would be our home for the next couple of days and nights and we did our best to make ourselves comfortable. I spent a fair bit of time on the Internet before Sandy emerged from our room after her nap to badger me into getting up off the sofa to take her out to get something to eat.
Since we’ve pretty much exhausted all our food supplies, dinner this evening had to be of the ‘going out and finding a restaurant’ type so that’s what we did. The main restaurant district is just around the corner from us here so we walked around until we found a nice little off the main street restaurant to sit and enjoy a lovely steak dinner at. We had a lovely evening right up to the point that the bill arrived. Not only had we been charged a whopping NZ$4,50 (€2,61) for a small glass of cola but they had slapped on that bloody 15% Easter holiday surcharge too. There was no indication that this was going to be the case until the bill actually arrived on the table but I was just too tired to argue the point in the now busy atmosphere. I did my level best to put it out of my head – which took all the energy I could muster, but there you go. I spent the rest of the evening glued to the laptop. What can I say, you can take the boy out of the technology but you can’t take the technology out of the boy.