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Sunday 22 Feb 2004
Bay of Islands, New Zealand

A LOTS happened...

A lot has happened over the past few days and I havent had a chance to update the site. But here I am in the northland Bay of Islands area and am using a pretty damn expensive internet cafe (7 bucks/hour) so will have to write quickly...

19th Feb 2004

After writing the last entry I went off to the local backpacker carpark to do some snooping around. No sooner had I arrived than I saw the car I wanted: a Mazda Capella station-wagon going for only 1,400 dollars!! A test drive convinced me it was a quality buy: clean, automatic, power steering, smooth engine, ample space to lie down and store my stuff. 2 hours later I was the proud owner of a new car in NZ, having managed to get the price down to 1,300!!

I parked the car in a car-park that lets you stay overnight from 6pm-7am for 8 dollars.. after which they tow you away...

That night I celebrated my purchase with a mass drinking session and nightclubbing with a few of my pals from the hostel...

I had a great time convincing a bunch of yanks I was Canadian all night, then confusing them by speaking Scottish and then Ozzie. Apparently most people think Im Canadian because my accent certainly doesnt sound Irish (unless youre a pom or Irish) and I say "aye" a lot. On the former note, there are LOADS of yanks here compared to Oz! Possibly because NZ is closer to the States? Or drawn by the Lord of the Rings flicks?

20th Feb 2004

The next morning I woke up a bit later than expected: 7.30 am and ran down to the car park to move my car. There was just one problem, it wasnt there anymore!?!? It had been towed away!!!! AAAAARGH!

The next few hours involved a stressful search for the tow yard, getting there after walking 3 hours in the rainy/sunny weather up and down large hills, and discovering they wanted my licence (which I hadnt brought). I had to splash out and get a taxi back to the hostel, and back again for 20 bucks. Then I was presented with the fine: 180 dollars!!!!! DOUBLE AAAAAARGH!!!

An interesting thing to note about Auckland... its got a maritime climate which means it changes from hot/muggy weather to heavy cold rainstorms in a matter of minutes. Really weird.

Apparently in NZ they dont give tickets quite as readily as they do in Oz, preferring to tow. I think its because the towing companies are privatised so, in order to make a living, the towing guys wait around car parks until the deadline time, at which point they proceed to clear the place of unpaid customers.

Anyhoo, after that stressful (and expensive!!) morning I managed to get myself together and bought some supplies (matress, food, etc) from the local supermarket. Then I headed off north along the main highway to eventually arrive at Whangarei (pronounced "fangaree"). I camped here iat a camp site for only 10 dollars a night.

21st Feb 2004

Spent another day in Whangarei trying to get my curtains organised and bought a few camping extras like a gas cooker and frying pan.

I wasted another 40 bucks today trying to tint my windows (so that I could park anywhere by looking like a "non-camper"). This proved to be near impossible to do by myself so I just threw away the rest of the sticky tint material... doh!

22nd Feb 2004

Left Whangarei (finally) this morning... drove north toward the Bay of Islands along the main highway. I had to sacrifice going the slower scenic route (as I would have done in Oz) since Im on a pretty tight budget this time. I also had to miss doing the Poor Knights island dive which is supposed to be one of the best in the world.... hmmm maybe on the way back down...

I *DID* manage to take in a wonderful limestone cave tour along the highway today though: Kawiti Glow-worm Caves. Its on land owned by a Maori family, one of whom was the guide - quite possibly the campest tour guide Ive ever met! He was a big guy with a bizzarre mohican haircut and made a lot jokes about mens body parts.. hmm.

The caves contain (as suggested by the name) thousands of Glow-worms which resemble star constelations on the cave ceiling when all torches were turned off. The cave itself was fantastic and well worth the 10 buck price tag!

Ive just arrived in Paihia - the gateway to Bay of Islands trips and also for diving the Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior boat (which was bombed by French government terrorists in 1985).

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