Up North with the mentalists

Trip Start Apr 16, 2011
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Late into the afternoon Emma's camper buddy Mitch arrived at the hostel. A brief history; they’d all met in Fraser Island back in Australia, and once hitting NZ around the same time, decided to do the campervan thing. Well, I think it was basically just Mitch, as Emma can’t drive, and her general travelling ethos is 'yeah, whatever, see what happens.’ Oh, apart from swimming with Dolphins, she has zero interest in that.

So we drove out the city and into the night, headed north. After a couple of hours or so, we picked a town, Wellsford, for somewhere to stay. The first caravan park was just a car park, so moved on. In town, I jumped out at a petrol station to get directions. 10 minutes later, Emma and Mitch were wondering what the hell I was up to. Well, I found myself being chatted nonsense to by these two mental women. I was trying to pick out the genuinely useful information in between the drivel, but it wasn’t easy. At one point the woman pulled out a map. I thought this was progress. Then she started saying, "well you could even go stay up by my Mum’s. Though my Mum doesn’t really like foreigners. That’s a bit sad isn’t it? In this day and age." I didn’t care; I just wanted my simple question of holiday parks in the area to be covered.

In the end we were heading 15 minutes back along the road to ‘SHEEPWORLD’. Approaching 9pm, we were all in hope to get into Sheepworld for the night, whatever it was. We gladly found it, and were soon greeted by the absolutely mental owner. After waiting for him to ‘put on some clothes’ he was there chatting absolute nonsense. We were pretty much all trying not to wet ourselves. On asking how many Sheep made up Sheepworld, the disappointing answer was 8. The facilities for the night were pretty basic. Freezing cold TV room and outdoor kitchen. Em and Mitch both assured me this was not a good introduction to the campervan vibe. Freezing our jebs off, we had a makeshift dinner and were soon heading into the camper, to warm up. I thought it was going to be a cold night, but with 3 squeezed in it soon warmed up. Just the face taking some of the cold breeze. During the night, I had to wake up for a piss; Em thought I was off on a sleep walk, and Mitch thought the old man was breaking in. lol.

Breakfast al fresco the next morning, which was actually pleasant, and brightened up by the sheep! Unfortunately we didn’t hang round long enough to experience the sheep show. Back on the road and onwards. First toilet break at a little town, where I picked up a woolly jumper bargain, just $4. It reminded Emma of the Tommy More jumper, so result for me there. Out of town we hopped out to check out a waterfall. As we headed down, I’d noticed there was an Asian school Invasion ahead of us. As I walked towards the water front to get the desired photo, some of the group spotted me and started saying ‘hi’ and waving. Within seconds cameras were out, and I was posing for numerous photos. Em and Mitch were hanging back lapping it all up. I was as well obviously, doing the classic ‘chinese photo’ pose, two fingers out. They politely thanked us, and we were allowed to head back to the van. An odd experience.

Another town along the way, and yet more Fish and Chips for lunch. Local police were also having theirs with a prisoner, just chilling. Ok, it might have just been there mate. The town was also host to some famous toilets, designed by an Austrian Artist. Not worth writing home about. Oh, I am. So, a few hours later and we’d arrived in the town of Paihia. First we booked onto a couple of tours, with a raucous granny tour operator. She suggested the Base Hostel bar for later on, to get ‘raged’. As we then attempted to find a holiday park we were faced by yet more mentalists and a total lack of amenities at these places. In the end, we parked Murray outside a hostel for the night and used the facilities there. The owner was friendly-ish, but stern. We all agreed he was potentially a weird cult leader in his spare time.

In the evening we treated ourselves to a steak dinner, washed down with the red I’d bought back on Waiheke Island. This caused the other residents to question our backpacker status. ‘Treats’ we told them. As we headed out a bit late to the recommended live music bar, things seemed to be slowly wrapping up. Well we did get to see some music, and Emma had the pleasure (heavily encouraged by us) of dancing with some old boy away with his mates. She lapped it up. We’d hoped this act would get us involved with the $100 bar tab the man had just won. The man was Gordon Craig, we all have his business card now. Though offered, the free drinks never came to fruition. We then moved onto the Base Hostel bar, the ‘Kiwi Experience’ bus was in town. This generally means Hello Party. It wasn’t mad kicking off but we had a drink. Some local girl, a complete mezz-pot, got chatting to Emma. She was trying to convince us to cancel our tours, and instead just let her take us to some waterfall. Yeah, no thanks love. So we got back and into Murray for bed.

Up at a ridiculous hour the next day, and onto a bus. We were on a day tour to take us right up to the far north of the North Island. A lot of frustrating waiting about, a good 20 minutes for two Asian women who got the pick-up time wrong. Brilliant. They were in no rush either, and to make matters worse they possessed some of the textbook Asian tourist personal noises I’ve come to loathe. At this hour really all anyone wanted to do was go back to sleep. With the Maouri driver piping up over the mic though it didn’t really happen. Of course you want to listen to any interesting information, but he was going on and we had a good 4 hour journey (one-way) ahead of us. Many times, he’d accidentally leave the mic on and you’d just hear his animal like breathing over the PA system. Excellent.        

The first stop was a reluctant cold early morning walk around a rainforest. Back on to the cold bus and after some broken sleep we had a quick food stop. While enjoying a tea and a fantastic sausage roll Mitch then realised his former 6th form teacher, Mr. Casey, was also on the tour. Small world. We then continued on a way until Cape Reinga. From the lighthouse here we could see NZ’s northern most point, 3km North on the headland. A windy walk back, and back onto the bus for the soggy sandwiches Emma had whipped up for lunch. Mmmmm. Our next stop after casually bombing through some streams on the bus was for sandboarding. A big climb up the sand dunes, then 7 seconds of madness hurling yourself down on a boogie board. Sandy times with the wind blowing it all in your face.

A couple of runs, back on, and a drive along the ’90 mile beach’. Though, no, it’s doesn’t measure up to being 90 miles. Sights along the way included the ‘hole in the rock’ and the wreck of a tourist campervan that had attempted to jet through the water. Emma was unimpressed, with the thing having mainly corroded from years in the water. Then it was for the four hour drive back. En route we did stop at the highly reputable fresh fish and chip shop. Yes the fish was good, but a let down on the frozen McCain chips. Once back, we stocked up our belly’s with a crumpet and noodle dinner. Bit more wine, and upon checking the usual night spots, all was dead. Into Murray for the night. During the night, in my dream, I believed I was fully in control; then some dream catcher decided to pipe up and started altering my axis of reality rendering me useless. I took my surprise back into the real world shouting “HOW ARE YOU DOING THIS!?” This resulted in waking the whole van up including myself. Realising what had happened I apologised to Em and Mitch, and we all got back to sleep.

All that didn’t set me up so well the next day. We headed to the Ferry Pier at 9am for a tour of the Bay of Islands, and the promise of some dolphin spotting. Whilst stationery, some dolphins appeared; this ticked off the promise, which was fortunate considering we wouldn’t see a single one again in the next couple of hours. On board some Maouri old boy in his traditional get up was offering guided tours for $15 once we were on some island. Somehow Mitch managed to wangle us a free ride. So after cruising about, not spotting any dolphins, enjoying the sunshine and views, we were onto the Island.

We all stood round listening to the man, getting balls deep in Maouri culture. As he guided us about the Island, he didn’t stop to breathe. The relentless chat took us up to the crest of a hill, where the views were amazing but the wind was chilly. He went on and on, and all I could think about was getting back in the warm. Finally we began to make the descent back down to the pier. As he continued to talk I was now fully saturated with culture and instead just watched him walk backwards frequently nailing sheep turd with his shoes. When he started tackling some stairs backwards as well I became pretty anxious for both his health and also me wetting myself as he began slipping down steps.

Finally back onto the boat and another round of soggy sandwiches. This is where I began feeling a bit ill, so naturally blamed Emma’s sandwiches initially. Back on land we were soon picking up Murray and getting back on the road, heading back to Auckland. A few hours, now feeling worse, we were vehicle deep in rush hour traffic. I really needed a piss. As we found no temporary parking in the centre and had to head back out, part of me was dying inside. Eventually I had the chance to get out, having to run past classy restaurants to Subway where I didn’t feel so rude just going in to relieve myself. And what a relief it was.

We checked back into the S-hole of a hostel, and headed for some food, where I essentially brought everyone down with my ill vibes. Em and Mitch were throwing out positive thoughts, saying I’d sleep it off, but I had my anxieties for the start of my bus tour the next day. Back at the hostel we chilled out, but with limited table space found ourselves chatting to a couple of English lads. I stuck it out for a bit, but their chat was pretty poor and heavily opinionated. I wasn’t in the right state to deal with this. So, I said good night and farewells to Em and Mitch, heading for bed. I wouldn’t see them in the morning; guess what Yousif, yet another early start on the cards!
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