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Saturday 16 Mar 2013
Auckland, New Zealand

Farewell New Zealand! It's been sweet as, bro...

After an all too brief 36 days in this amazing country, it is time to say farewell to New Zealand.

The last few days in Auckland have been lovely - if a little damp.  I stayed with my good friend James in Ponsonby, catching up for the last time in what will probably be a few years.  It was really good to spend some time with him and I will miss him a lot.  I arrived on Friday afternoon after an easy flight up from Christchurch.  We got the basics sorted and enjoyed a couple of beers on the balcony with one of his friends, before heading down to the Viaduct Harbour area for Friday night Silo Cinema.  Auckland, this is a stroke of sheer genius!  There are a number of tall concrete silos down on the waterfront.  This area has been reclaimed from the dockyards and landscaped into a public park area. On Friday nights in the summer, they turn this area into a free open air cinema by project a film up onto the side of one of these silos.  There's a food market, beer tent and various other stalls along side and everyone comes down with beanbags and blankets to set up camp on the grass in front of the screen.  The movies vary from recent releases to 1980s classics like Ghostbusters and Indiana Jones.  During Gay Pride week they showed Pricilla Queen of the Desert.  Brilliant!  This week it was Marley, a documentary film about the life of Bob Marley.  We had mussel patties, grilled prawns, some amazing spicy hummus and a couple of beers and lay back on a rug enjoying the atmosphere.  I wish they had something like this at home - I would be there every week.

On Saturday, James walked down with me to the Maritime Museum to pick up a sailing ticket left for me by a friend, Olly.  I knew he volunteered as crew on a boat, but I had assumed it was a yacht, maybe one of the big Americas Cup racing yachts.  I couldn't have been more wrong!  We walked around to the jetty and discovered a beautiful old brigantine named the Breeze.  Olly waved from halfway up the rigging and the skipper came out to say hello.  It turned out I was the only passenger booked in that day, so the skipper sent James off to buy a ticket too.  The lovely lady in the shop gave it to him half price for being 'a friend of a friend of Olly's' and we both hopped aboard.  The weather wasn't great, so we were glad of the waterproofs they offered us, but it wasn't cold.  The Maritime Museum have a couple of old boats that they take out on regular trips for tourists, but the advertising isn't as good as it could be, so they often only have a few passengers on the Breeze, while the Ted is much busier.  Both boats are staffed almost entirely by volunteer crew and by the time we'd got back to harbour again James had joined their ranks.

As neither of us had to be back by a specific time, we ended up sailing for nearly four hours instead of two.  James and I were able to join in with the sailing and spent our time pulling or releasing various ropes as the ship tacked her way up through Auckland harbour towards Rangitoto, the volcanic island we had climbed last time I was in Auckland.  We had 11 sails running at one stage, which took a lot of coordination to man all the ropes (lines?) on each tack.  Some of the crew were very experienced, while others were still learning the ropes (no pun intended), so James and I just joined in and did what we were told.  When we turned around and ran with the wind all the way back and under the Harbour Bridge, the skipper let me have a turn at the helm.  It's surprisingly difficult to keep a brigantine in full sail going in a straight line, especially when you have to avoid ferries, tugs and Americas Cup yachts showing off for their own passengers.  James then took a turn on the way back up and stood there with a grin like a Cheshire Cat.  He will definitely be sailing again.  As we came back under the Harbour Bridge we watched people bungy jumping off a platform underneath.  I bet their videos will look impressive with a brigantine sailing past as they jumped.

While chatting to one of the crew, a guy called Luke, I mentioned that I had a friend who had spent a year on the Tall Ship Pelican.  Luke asked who it was and I told him her name was Beth.  'Oh, I know Beth!' he said with a grin.  It turned out he had sailed with her last year! Small world and all that...  While we were sailing, we came up behind one of the other boats they knew so the crew filled up a load of water balloons ready for an ambush.  Unfortunately we couldn't easily get close enough, so they started throwing them at each other instead, then saved the rest for bombing the crew once we got back into the dock.  Somehow I managed to be standing in the wrong place and caught the contents of two balloons that weren't even aimed at me! 

Sunday was St Patrick's Day, which dawned with a deluge of Irish weather.  It had rained most of the night and showed little signs of stopping.  When we came down for breakfast, James burst out laughing as he tipped a pint of rainwater out of each of my trainers... I had left them on the balcony because they are developing a healthy aromatic subculture of their own.  Oops. We left them upside down over a bucket to drain while we went into town to meet another friend of mine.  Piers used to play softball in the same team as me, but move to Auckland 18 months ago.  I had been going to watch his new team play - and maybe get a few innings in myself - this morning, but the weather had other ideas.  So, it being St Patrick's Day, we went to the pub for lunch instead. Shame.

Monday brought still more rain, so after James left on a field trip with another Postgrad biologist, I took advantage of his wifi and caught up on my blog before moving camp to a hostel for my last night.  I met up with a Canadian guy called Chris, who had been on my Stray Bus in the South Island for the past two weeks. We found a quiet bar for a final pint of Monteith Mac's Gold, enjoying being in a country where we could still sit ouside in t-shirts at 10pm.  

I feel like I barely scratched the surface of New Zealand.  I could live here for a year and still find new things every day.  This is somewhere I will definitely be returning to in the future.

Best things: Friendly people, Lemon and Paeroa, Fergburgers, Black Water Rafting, Volcanoes, Sauvingnon Blanc, Silo Cinema, Abel Tasman coastal walks, Dolphins and seals, hugging Kaori trees, eating fresh seafood on the beach, building rockmen in Mount Cook, luge races in Queenstown... so many more to list!

Songs of the trip: 'Trouble' by Taylor Swift, 'Ho Hey' by the Lumineers, 'Welcome Home' by Radical Face', 'Fight Fire with Fire' by Scissor Sisters...

I wonder what Fiji has in store?

 

 

 

 

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Zobeedoo's Big World Adventure, Part I

Travel blog by zobeedoo

Marahau Bridges, Abel Tasman

Marahau Bridges, Abel Tasman


The first part of my trip will take in South East Asia, New Zealand and Australia. I'm looking forward to seeing new places, revisiting some old places as well as meeting friends and family along the way.

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Photo Album

  • Sailing on...

    Auckland

    New Zealand

    Sailing on the Breeze
  • Flying from...

    Auckland

    New Zealand

    Flying from Singapore to Auckland
  • Sailing on...

    Auckland

    New Zealand

    Sailing on the Breeze
  • Sailing on...

    Auckland

    New Zealand

    Sailing on the Breeze