Auckland, Piha and the Awesomobile - My first week
Trip Start Aug 28, 2010
31Trip End Aug 28, 2011
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Well I saw more of Auckland city, was going down there pretty much every day. This was mainly to check the backpacker hostels for vans, phoning people and viewing vans. My ankle has still been playing up since my motorcycle accident a few weeks back and hours of walking every day didn't do much to help the healing. Nevertheless, I wanted to get a van and I wanted to see the city, so see it I did!
I walked around the parks, which are beautiful and tremendously clean. I spent an entire day at the (free!) museum and didn't even see everything. It was fascinating stuff, from the native animals and trees to the culture of the maori and the pacific islanders to a simulation of what would happen if a volcano erupted in Auckland city (That bit was awesome, you sat in a fake house and it shook and trembled!)
There's a cool alternative scene in Auckland and most of this happens on Karangahape Road, or the K-Road as they call it. Its full of alternative clothes stores, chic coffee bars, tattoo parlours and funky looking restaurants. On this road I found a Hari Krishna restaurant that does a massive plate of curry, rice, pakoras, daal soup and some strange dessert + custard thing for $6 (3 quid!). Very filling and tasty food, just had to put up with the terrible hari krishna music!
The other way of cheap eating I've found is sushi! Sushi here is stupid cheap, as is a lot of asian food in general I think. You can get a set of 8 really tasty sushi for $4 (2 quid!) which is totally enough for a good lunch. So between Hari Krishna, Sushi and making my own packed lunches I've been getting by pretty cheap! :)
I've got to mention the supermarkets here. Not only is food (mostly) cheaper, but general quality is amazing. I bought an apple on a whim from a 'New World', one of the big supermarket chains, and it was the best apple I've ever had! Fruit here is so fresh and tasty, I was surprised at the difference! It's not just the fruit though, even the cheap store made muffins and biscuits (had to be tested) were the kind of quality you'd expect from a posh coffee shop or good bakery, tasty
There's lots of bakeries and in Birkenhead, where I'm currently staying, a whole shop dedicated to cheesecake! I'm in heaven, and utterly spoiled!
Due to the strength of the NZ dollar, apparently there's a massive glut of wine here, which means its all very cheap. I have a feeling it's all fairly cheap anyway but as they can't shift the stuff there's always loads of reduced bins in the supermarkets. Again the quality of the wine I've had so far has been very good, Terry and Julie have been spoiling me!
Enough about food anyway!
On Sunday, Terry and Julie invited me to go on a walk with them out in Piha, which is a very popular surfing beach not far from Auckland. The trip over there was my first time out of the city and it was amazing! We travelled over the Waitakere range, which is a large stretch of mountains to the west of Auckland. The scenery was beautiful and the roads were amazing. It was at this point that I realised how great a bike would be for this country. Twisty, quiet, well surfaced roads, it's pretty much bikers paradise! I kept thinking about how I could do the trip on a bike, but it just isn't feasable, this time :P
We got to Piha, on a blustery overcast day
We had a steady climb to the top of a ridge with some awesome views before we walked out to a point where the rocks stuck out into the sea. We then followed a nice path down to the very end of the beach. The sand was black and grey and volcanic! The walk took about 2 hours all together and was a good warm up for what's to come I hope! My ankle wasn't feeling great after it but I needed to see how it would cope.
On Monday I decided to hit the ground running and try to get myself a van at last. After seeing many many vans and not liking them due to a number of reasons (price, size, badly looked after, previous owner oblivious to things like oil and water checking and servicing), I eventually stumbled across a place called the backpackers car market
The only problem was that the prices in the car market were a little more than I wanted to pay, more than I'd been looking at previously but still under budget. I had a couple taken out for test drives and eventually picked one I liked the most. I then had it sent for a very thorough mechanical inspection, which turned up a couple of major issues. I haggled the price down due to these issues and bought it! It was then sent in to the mechanic for a new clutch slave cylinder, a new rocker cover gasket and a full service, which included a new 'WOF' (Warrant of Fitness, basically an MOT). After paying for the van, the inspection, the new parts and car insurance, it all added up quite quickly! Not too bothered at the moment but it may mean I'll need to get work quicker than I anticipated! :P
Speaking of work I've got my first wwoof host lined up! WWOOF, for those who don't know is an organisation which stands for Worldwide Workers On Organic Farms. I'm signed up to volunteer myself to hosts who run organic farms of one sort or another
So tomorrow (Friday) will be spent buying provisions and stuff for the van (although it came with loads of equipment!), ready to move out on Saturday and start the adventure in the van!
Wow, long post, quite rushed, hope it makes sense!
Hope everyone is well, enjoy the pictures!