Monday, August 30, 2010

New Zealand Trip: Rotorua-Auckland-Paihia

Monday 30th August

This would be a long day. Not having time to muck around before checking out and getting the bus I went around the corner to McDonald's for breakfast again. Quick and easy.

I checked out from the hostel and rolled my bag up the street and around the corner to the tourist info centre, which is also the town bus stop. I tagged my bag and showed the driver the print out of my ticket, stowed my bag underneath and went aboard. This bus would take me to Auckland, where I would change to another that would take me to Paihia. This was the final leg of my travel pass.

All the front seats were taken so I went about 3/4 of the way back on the right, this was to be my home for the next three and a half hours. I just looked out the window listened to my iPod most of the way.

Cows! One seems to have her way up a hill.

It was on this leg that I had one of those freaky coincidences of life. I had my iPod on shuffle meaning any song could come up next. So one of the songs that came up was "Mean to Me" by Crowded House. At the time we were just coming into the town of Cambridge ( I think) and passed by a road sign pointing to a town called Te Awamutu. At the exact time we passed the sign the line of the song that mentions Te Awamutu played. It just so happens that Te Awamutu is the birth place of Tim and Neil Finn. Anyway, that was a strange moment.

After about 1.5 hours we reached Hamilton where we stopped for about 25 minutes. I made a point of getting off and stretching. I ended up buying a sausage roll from the cafe at the bus station. When I got back on more passengers had got on the bus, which was now very crowded.There was a woman in my seat. I showed her that I had left my things on the seat and in the pocket and she went and found a seat elsewhere.

When we stopped in Hamilton I took a photo of the coach.

Crossing the Waikato River on the outskirts of Hamilton.
She was just about breaking her banks at the time.

Onwards to Auckland we followed the Waikato River, and stopped at a small town before crossing the hills to south of Auckland and that is when we landed in downtown Manakau city. Actually we stopped outside a Westfield shopping centre, it was like Auckland's version of Paramatta. There was also a theme park called Rainbow's End nearby, which we passed on the way in. Back on the motorway through suburbia we eventually emerged in the CBD and parked at the bus station under the Sky Tower. I had only about 45 minutes to do whatever I needed to do in Auckland.

I can't remember what I did with my bag in the meantime but I know I didn't drag it around. I decided to try and find some lunch so went around to the front of the casino looking for a food court of something like that. Only I found nothing except more expensive restaurants. I ended up walking all the way around the block and back to the bus station. I decided that the best bet was a ham and cheese toasted sandwich from the bus station cafe. It wasn't too bad, although it had processed sliced cheese in it, which as a rule I don't eat.

Boarding the new coach was interesting, some young girls (European backpacker types) attempted to get on first in front of some older people. The driver took exception and pulled them aside and made them wait until the older people had got on. By the time I got on there were very few seats and the back of the bus had been blocked off (to save cleaning?) I was disappointed as the only rows on the right had the pillars between the windows. I was pretty sure there would be good scenery on that side and wanted a full window. I was quite annoyed actually as all the "good" seats i.e. those with a full window were taken by euro back packer types.

We began driving and were soon back on the motorway. We crossed the harbour bridge, which although it bears some resemblance to the Sydney Harbour Bridge actually looks nothing like it. The locals however assure you the two are identical in every way shape and form.

The poor cousin.
Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Auckland city skyline from the Harbour Bridge.

Mesmerised by clouds.

Woken up by helicopter.
A Robbinson R22.

For some reason the euro backpacker types in front of me moved after a few minutes of driving to the other side of the aisle. I immediately moved forward to the better window. Later I think they regretted moving. I sure didn't, as the various beaches, rivers and mountains we passed were fantastic. It really did seem tropical, up here in the "tropical north".

Beach scenery just north of Auckland.

Scenery A bit further on

Yes more scenery, a bit further north.

Once again dairy cows ruled the countryside, and it was at the Swinging Cow cafe that we stopped for a break. Like a lot of places in New Zealand, it was self serve. Open the door and pick what you want with the tongs. I chose a home made spring roll, which is simply the best I've ever had.

The sign says it all really.

Not a bad place to stop.


Oh look, more scenery.
Getting closer to Whangerei

The largest town we stopped at was Whangerei, where most people got off. The bus driver made a detour to a service station here to fill up with fuel. Another hour or so up the road and we wound our way in to the sleepy town of Paihia in the Bay of Islands.

Filling up.

I took a few minutes to find my bearings and then went and found my hostel. This time I picked the YHA. Once again I was the only person there, actually there was one other guest but I never saw them. After settling in to my room I went back into the town for dinner. The whole town was deserted, but it looked like it had a large carrying capacity for the summer holidays. There were a lot of choices to be had, any type of restaurant really. I picked a Thai place and had a Massaman Curry.

My lodgings for the next thee nights.

I got some supplies from the Four Square. Typically overpriced for a tourist oriented town (in a few days I discovered that the locals shop at a large supermarket on the outskirts of town). And returned to the hostel. I watched some TV before going to bed.

Needless to say I was blown away when I got here.

Across the waters.

The old church in Paihia.
I can't recall the denomination, niether catholic or Anglican though.
To me it looked no longer used.

No comments: