From Paihia to Auckland, I was lucky to get a lift from a German girl staying in the same hostel. In fact, I’d already met her in Rotorua. She also gave a lift to Joey, and the three of us went on a short road trip, stopping in a few places on our way to New Zealand’s largest city.
First stop: Abbey caves. I only visited the first of three, about ten minutes walk from the road. The girls didn’t feel like clambering down in the dark, and walking knee-deep in a stream (I suppose that’s fair enough) but I had my sturdy hiking boots and a head torch so I made my way in until the tunnel was too low for me to stand. It was fairly long and there were a lot of glowworms in there!
Our second stop was an express lunch break on a beach. It would have been nice to stay there longer but sandflies made us change our minds. My feet still itch while I’m writing this, damn those sandflies for not letting us enjoy all those beautiful places!
Another few hours later, we arrived, just before rush hour. I was apprehending my stay in Auckland: people hadn’t sold it to me as a particularly nice city and I was dreading the loudness of partygoers in the streets and hostels after staying in all those quiet towns. Sure, Auckland isn’t the most beautiful city I’ve seen, but it’s quite laid-back, kiwi style, and seems to have a lot to offer. I basically had three nights and two days to spend before catching my flight home on Sunday. This was my smooth transition back to civilisation: I wanted to get a haircut and buy some proper (i.e not backpacking) clothes. Other than that, I just walked around; the best way to get to know a place. Victoria Park’s large trees were shedding their leaves and the CBD’s modest skyline lights up at night, offering an ideal photography playground.
I was staying in the same hostel as a French girl, Louisa, I’d bumped into something like four times on both south and north islands! She suggested going to a salsa night in a mexican bar Friday night. Not exactly my type of party usually, but I agreed it could be fun. A few margaritas were enough to get me on the dancefloor but past midnight I grew tired of the reggaeton (I can’t stress how much I dislike this music) and headed home.
Sunday morning I headed to the airport, feeling a bit down that my trip was already over, but a part of me was happy to go home. Bye bye New Zealand!
I had a first ten hour flight from Auckland to Singapore, we were flying over Australia for what felt like ages, but the landscape never changed. Changi airport is not the worse place for a connection: I had five hours there, they have a cinema, foot massage machine and… a butterfly garden!
My second flight was thirteen hours on an Airbus A380 to Paris. Luckily the seat next to me was empty and I could lie down and get some proper sleep.
Good morning Paris! Next challenge: stay awake all day (I landed at 7 am) to adjust and shake off the ten hour jetlag.