Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Up the Naki

The weekend just gone was my first 'proper' NZ bank holiday weekend - proper because I was working so got to benefit from an extra day off rather than travelling when every day is a day off.

I was going to go to a party at a famous party mansion in Auckland, but Shanyn suggested we escaped Auckland for the weekend instead, so that's what we did! Clemence and Ben from climbing came along as did Ben and Shanyn's uni friend Owain, who met us in Hamilton and rode share the rest of the way.

this picture made me realise i need to cut my hair...

It took a while to get down there due to traffic and the fact it's actually really quite far away, and we arrived at the hut at 12.45am.  It was absolutely freezing and we didn't get the best sleep, also hampered by a bunch of super loud people getting up really early and having no respect for anyone else trying to sleep.  

Having arrived in the dark, I went outside in the morning and did a double take at the view behind the hut - I literally stumbled backwards as I wasn't expecting anything so magnificent. 

woke up to this view

went outside, turned round and did a double take at this view

After a borrowed breakfast of porridge (silly me forgot to pack anything breakfasty) and debate about whether we should summit the mountain, luckily for me and Clemence the boysdecided to stick to our original plans of walking the Pouakai circuit as we weren't really prepared for summiting the snowcapped mountain!

We set off the track which was a steep up hill road and I really wasn't enjoying it - I love tramping but I HATE hills! When we set off the eather was beautiful, sunny and clear and as we got higher the clouds came in and it got colder. Always be prepared! I am quite lucky and I get really hot when walking so I was fine temperature wise, even though we ended up surrounded by snow.  

the route goes round up to the tower on the left, then up to the snow line

weather closing in 

the first bit of snow

more snow!

credit to Shanyn

credit to Shanyn

When we reached the snow line we had a little break which was well needed for me, not so much for the others who are as fit as mules! Luckily the rest of the track to the hut from here on was either down hill or flat, and a bit more exciting with a few rock clambers, walking along snowy ridges and and walking across a landslide. 

go team! (credit to Shanyn)

We reached the Holly hut in good time, claimed some beds, and discovered we'd be sharing the hut with a really annoying guy we'd crossed paths with earlier in the day.  One of those really annoying people who thinks they know everything and are very arrogant and have no respect for anyone else - he was walking about the hut with his boots on (very bad etiquette in NZ), made a ballsup of the fire because he thought he knew best, made a ton of noise in the middle of the night because he couldn't sleep, and continued to make noise in the morning and speaking really loudly even when asked by others to keep it down. He was so annoying!   

Holly  Hut

Owain testing the beds

Hiding in the trees to make Ben and Clem jump

lunch break

Anyways we claimed our beds then headed out on a side trip to Bell Falls, which was a nice 1 hour return trip from the hut.  We clambered round on the falls and took pics and sat and chilled at the beauty of it, and as we headed back dusk was arriving making the sky do weird apocalyptic things which was pretty awesome.  That night we slept much better - I wore all of my clothes and a hat and 2 pairs of socks and some of Shanyn's and was much warmer!

Contemplative (credit to Clemence)

awesome photo of the falls by ben

Apocalyptic sky

We set off early the next morning as we had a heap of hiking to do to get back to the car.  The first half of the walk was mostly uphill which wasn't fun but the stunning scenery and weather more than made up for it.  At one point I got Shanyn to tell me everything that's happened in Game of Thrones to distract me from the uphillness.  It worked!  When we reached the top of a peak you could see for miles - we could even see Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe!  At our lunch stop, for some reason Ben had a stash of army supplies as his food so we had fun trying to decipher what was in each can and package, one can of what could have been tuna turned out to be a can of cheese.  Weird.  

the next morning before setting off

this bit was sooooo slippery - icy boardwalk (credit to Shanyn)

gorgeous misty swampland

team photo at the tarn


We trundled on and on and the last hour for me was a killer - I was bored, tired and hungry and fantasising about a giant burger to get me through.   Owain and I kept ourselves entertained by making different animal sounds and trying to guess what they were - if anyone walked past they probably would have thought we belonged in an asylum and I was laughing so hard my belly hurt.   I also introduced everyone to the 'i own a business' game which kept us all entertained for the weekend - thank you Martha for introducing me to this great game 3 years ago!

Eventually we made it back to the car and bombed it to New Plymouth to check into the hostel, shower and get a much needed dinner.  We had burgers then pudding in an american themed diner and slept in an exhausted heap in the hostel.

On the way home the next morning we stopped at Te Rewa Rewa bridge because Ben's company had made it and he was super excited to see it.  As bridges go it was pretty cool to be fair! It reminded me of a stegasaurus!

NB the majority of the photos (all the good ones!) are credited to Shanyn and Ben who's photos I have borrowed as I forgot my own camera...

Monday, 6 June 2016

Semi-settling in Auckland

So I don't know if you've noticed but I took the 'NZ' preface away from the blog title...I guess because Auck will be my home for a wee while. HOW EXCITING AYE!   Except I am still semi living in a tent and still in a backpacker mentality where I think it's acceptable to not shower for 2 days and have greasy hair and eat pasta all day long...But that shall soon change, my friend. Maybe.

Anyway I have been in Auck for 3 weeks now, and the first two weeks were pretty damn depressing and boring and I was feeling a bit sorry for myself but then feeling annoyed at myself for feeling sorry for myself because I am in a super awesome position of being able to travel and live in another country.  I applied for tons of jobs and didn't get any of them, had some people reject me on grounds of my Visa which worried me about getting work, and was worried about living arrangements.  However last week I managed to get a job for a month or so temping as an Office Manager, so that bit is sorted at least for 4 weeks (and I get free food! I do a food shop on the company card each week and then eat what I have purchased throughout the week.  And others eat too what I don't manage to cram into my mouth).

It's too hard to remember what I have been up to so I made a list whilst at work the other day of things I remember that I have done and I'll try to put some pictures to it too and hopefully it'll make an acceptable blog post:

  • Met up with Amin for lunch.  This was really nice as we met on a train in Sri Lanka and met up again once in London and haven't seen eachother since, and that was 3 years ago.  He came out to NZ 2 months before I did on a work exchange and he's working at Auckland City Hospital.  We went for dumplings, took a drive to Parnell, saw his sweet pad, and he kindly took me to the AA centre so I could get my kiwi drivers licence - rock on! (Mainly so that I don't have to carry my passport round with me all the time when I buy alcohol)

accidental shoe and jacket matching

didn't realise they'd be so hot

  • Spent ages job hunting.  Signed up to some agencies, the first one I was very unprepared and wasn't expecting a proper job interview so had a huge brain freeze when asked a simple interview question. Sigh!
  • Lindsay (Amy's housemate) invited us to a friend's gig which was SO Shoreditch.  The band were pretty cool but everyone was dressed in very odd clothing and I felt like I could have been in London.  They also had a dulux dog on stage which was amazing.

  • Went to the Portland Public House (a really cool pub/venue in Kingsland near where I live) on a Friday night with Wouter and Rinse, Irene (Rinse's dutch travel buddy) and Justine.  Had an awesome night out, there was a 1950s rock band on and we danced the night away.
looks like we're holding hands but we're not, nothing to see here

rain rain go away....

  • The following day spent the entire day with Rinse and Wouter which was great until the end when Rinse got a bit too drunk and turned into a total arsehole.  But until that point it was great - had brunch then wandered around the CBD, went to the cinema (it was raining) and saw 'Hunt for the Wildepeople' which is possibly the funniest film I have ever seen and I probably disturbed everyone else with my laughter, 10 popcorns. Then we found a Belgian beer bar and the boys sat drinking for 7 hours as I was designated driver, this was mostly fun until it was time to leave and it turned into a bit of a disaster, but we all made it home safe and sound.
  • Also went to the cinema with Wouter the following week to see X Men Apocalypse, which should be named 'the story of how Xavier loses all his hair'.  It isn't amazing but also not terrible, 5 popcorns. 
  • After a week and a bit of job hunting to no avail I was going a bit mad sitting at home so drove out to Piha.  My heart was singing as I got further out of Auckland and did a huge leap when I saw the sea.  I went for a walk along the beach, then did a little 40 minute track to a waterfall in the rain, then headed back into Auck again as the weather was getting worse.
stormy scenes mean a stormy selfie face

  • Went to my first pot luck, where you go to a party and bring a dish and everyone ends up eating random stuff. I made a spanish tortilla and it was delicious if I do say so myself. I was hoping to make tons of friends but I didn't really make any except the people I was with (Wouter and his cousin.)

  • The following day me and Wouter took a drive to the coast.  Again it was SO nice to escape Auckland (this is becoming a theme) and especially nice doing it with Wouter as it was like being back on the South Island with my travel buddies! We stopped at a few beaches and chilled out before heading back into town again. 

  • Went to a random drum and bass gig (David, if you're reading, I really missed you!) that Amy's housemate's band was playing.  Me and Shanyn (Amy's other housemate) couldn't decide if we should go or not and I had just got home soaked and put on my PJS, but then we listened to some of their music on youtube and liked it and flipped a coin and it told us to go, so we did. It was AWESOME and we were both glad we went, plus good housemate bonding time.  (Amy's housemates will hopefully become my housemates as a room in her house is becoming free and my plan is to take it). 
Being a basic bitch with a mirror selfie

  • I have been rock climbing again - the first time I went I felt quite confident but the second time for some reason I was so scared and doing really badly, but I was paired with a really nice girl called Camilla who was really encouraging and nice and over the session I got a lot better. Yay!
Peter Pan climbing shoes

  • Oh yeah so my job.  I am currently paid to answer the phone occasionally (and put the person through to the wrong person...accidentally keep doing that), and type up letters for my boss. He is VERY old school, and he handwrites a letter, then I type it into a word template, print it out, he scribbles on any amendments, I amend, we go back and forth like this for a while, then finally I PDF the final word document and email it to him, and he then sends it as an email attachment to someone. Seems very longwinded but that's the way he likes to do things...I could just teach him to type and email himself and that'd save himself a PA but then I'd be out of a job so hey...It's OK but a bit dull, there's 5 old guys in the office and me so it's not the most sociable of places, but I am getting paid so that's all that matters! And I have an awesome view of the sea from the window. 

So that's a little catch up and hopefully satisfies everyone's curiosity (when I say everyone, I mean all 4 of my readers. I love you all)