We have arrived in New Zealand. After 21 hours of transit from Japan (Fukuoka to Manilla, Manilla to Cairns and Cairns to Auckland), we were more than happy to get to the Auckland airport and have our belongings x-rayed and scanned for biological invaders (especially our tent, which at this point is definitely a biohazard mélange of mildew, mosquito carcass and my blood). We were amazed by how comfortable nearly everything felt as soon as we arrived: the people at the airport were friendly and helpful, the SIM card took all of 30 seconds to set up and pay for, and everyone was speaking English. It was really awesome.
After some waiting, we managed to find the surliest bus driver in all of New Zealand to drive us to our hostel – a first impression that left a lot to be desired. The Kiwi Backpackers airport hostel in Auckland seemed promising at first. The man who checked us in was enthusiastic and helpful initially, helping us store our bike boxes in the luggage room. Sadly, our experience went downhill like a rolling Northland road from there; the rooms were cramped and smelly. After months of extremely close quarters in our tent, we didn’t even get to sleep in the same room. We were expecting our first night in New Zealand to be together, but I guess it’s always good to take a break from each other once in a while.
Unless everyone around you was snoring, which was Bronwyn’s experience when a girl arrived to the female dorm at 2 A.M., spent an hour clearing her throat and proceeded to saw logs all night long. On my end, I arranged for an appropriate lights-out time with my bunk mates and slept soundly until it was time to wake up and sort out the camper van.
We hadn’t booked a thing in New Zealand due to poor planning and lack of time, so we were crossing our fingers and hoping that one of the camper van companies (preferably the cheapest one) would have something available for us to use for the week so we could go all the way north to Cape Reinga.
After several phone calls and a lot of Internet searching, we totally scored. Outfitted at an affordable price (and with plenty of room for the bike boxes), we found a very svelte ride from Traveller’s Autobarn – we can highly recommend, especially if they’re reading this and want to throw in a discount our way. I left the hostel on a public transit adventure through Greater Auckland while Bronwyn waited in the hotel lobby researching all the must-sees of the Northlands.
The dude at Traveller’s Autobarn who set us up with our current ride (and home) was hands-down the funniest person I have met in New Zealand so far. The whole process of picking up the van was a breeze. Two hours after leaving, I returned to the hostel with the most beautiful camper van of all time (Bronwyn’s words, but I’d have to agree – the thing is super clean and runs like a dream), and we load it up and hit the road heading north. Bronwyn gets some new kicks for her aching feet before we stop in at a grocery store and load up on a lot of the food we were missing while in Japan: real cheese, non-white bread, olives, fresh cream, muesli and all of the other essentials that were going to make our trip north to Cape Reinga simply perfect.
Middle school teacher on hiatus/budding permaculturalist currently cycling the world. Sometimes he acts in plays and film. Mostly he travels and blogs about it. Christian is one of the founders of onlyamazingdays.com