Friday, October 17, 2008

Chillin at Duck"s Nuts

I found a job in a bar down on The Strand, a trendy strip of bars and clubs for people to have a drink after work or a late night drum and bass party. I am bartending at De Bier Huas, a restaurant and bar. A little over min wage with no tips. But Its good to be earning something after being out of work for a month.
I am staying in a hostel with %80 germans so communicating is difficult. I am making my van more home like and functional as well. Added curtains and storage compartments. Tonight I am going see a local nz dnb artist. My kiwi friend from SD, Ethan called me today and said he was moving back to Auckland next week, and might have a place to stay and a job in music production with he and his mates, A bunch of local DJs.
I have gone running a few times this week, trying to fight off the softening effects of the kiwi diet. Processed white breads and aioli, cheese, and, shwag ass partical meats. I am going to a gym tomorrow. I will wait to see where I am in two weeks before comiting to a month there. I really want to produce music and play it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bay of Plenty

Bay of Plenty :
I had a chance to by a 4x4 van for $2000, but the guy seemed kind of shady so I passed. Then I thought I should have bought it because they are selling for twice that. The guy had another van for sale. A 94 toyota previa. I bought it for 2300 bucks. The hostels in Auckland cost $26 bucks a night, so if I sleep in a van for a year I'll be way ahead, plus I can sell it for something when I leave.
So now I was in my van with no place to go or even park in aucland. All parking costs money. I got a text from Clemins saying they went to the bay of plenty to get farm jobs, and there was a job for me if I wanted it. It didn't take 10 seconds to reply. "Yes." I point my van south and turned up the radio. 4 hours later I was there in town but didn't know where they were. I parked and got ready for bed, started to read when he texted that he could not stay at the hostel. No visitors past 10pm. He needed to stay with me and he would bring beer. I said no problem. We went to meet Julia and her German friend at the Nazi hostel. There were cameras everywhere, this guy came out and started lecturing us about having breakfast with them. He was very rude. So all of us left, The girls checked out and lost the job opportunity in the process. But they heard about Duck's Nuts hostel across town. They were $120 a week. And I could park my van and use their kitchen and showers and tvs and Playstation for a discounted rate.This place is very home feeling. And they also had Kiwi work, It was raining so work wouldn't start until four days from now. It is pruning kiwi fruit. There can be only 8 kiwi buds per vine so they will all grow big enough to sell internationally. 12 hour days @ $12hour (Min Wage) about $8.25/H USD. None for me, thanks! With my visa, I can only work 35 hours a week max. I am going down the ritzy strip of bars I saw last night by the the bay. The lady that works at Ducks Nuts said with my experience I could get a job no problem making above average wages.

Monday, October 13, 2008

First pics up here from the Northland

CamperVan part 2

After the the trippy cow pasture forests, we were driving even further north to the cape when I noticed a sign for sand board rentals. We had passed up some other adventure type sports because of the cost. But I was not going to pass this up. I pulled into a front yard of the house with the sign on the side on the hi way. It seems every one in NZ is trying to cash in on the tourists' dollar. I opened a sliding glass door and looked into someone messy kitchen. "hello. Are you open" Some 70 year lady came out and tried to charge me $20 for a two hour rental. I talked her down to ten dollars for what I knew as a body board made for riding ocean waves. We drove another twenty minutes though hills and forest until over next hill through some trees we saw massive mountains of sand much bigger than any of us expected. It must have taken 10000 years for the sand to pile up this high. We parked at the bottom with a few other tourist campers, took off our shoes and ran to the top of the first level. Out of breath we decided to walk up the rest of the way. We took turns riding the slick board down the steeps. I did some front and back flips off of a cornus at the top. We got sand in every part of our clothing and bodys. There was a small creek that cut through the inland side that prevented the dunes from progressing any furthur into the forest. Any sand that blew into the shallow water was just carried back to the Tasmanian Sea. I grabbed my board shorts and ran through the warm water like a kid playing in sprinklers on a summer day. This was the half way point in our trip and the high point of our road trip for me.
We drove a an hour further even though we were low on gas through dirt roads and hills to get to Cape Regina. An impressive site for any part of the world. 300 meters up on a Cliff with a lighthouse and a $10 million view. You could see The Pacific Ocean and Tasmanian Sea crashing together with green and blue waters meeting up and white water beating relentlessly into the jagged rocks below. You got a very safe feeling being that high up, you could see the violent waters but couldn't hear it.
On the way back back I was driving conservative so we didn't run out of gas. It would have been kind of fun to have to hitch hike to get some petrol but we thought we should at least try to get to the "last Gas" station we saw a ways back. We finally came down the last hill and then pulled into the station, after sitting a moment a girl came out and said they were out of gas and didn't know when they would get more. We thought we were screwed but they went in back and thankfully found two gallons. We bought it. We camped on the beach again that night. We saw some other campers parked there so we assumed that it would be cool. There something very satisfying about waking up next to water. Maybe its the life giving properties, but people tend to agree that water and sunlight almost anywhere is a beautiful sight.
Friday we hiked up a trail that had been built up with wood stairs and bridges to help less athletic people navigate through the forests over the rivers and fern gully's. It was an impressive area that lie on private property we all the way to the top to a look out point. On our way out we walked passed the "Honesty Box" where we were supposed to pay $10 each for the walk. The owner showed up right then and called us out on it. We were not by any means rich but, We felt very stupid for trying to save money. We sat in silence for the next portion of the drive. I suppose you learn from things like that and try not to make mistakes like that in the future.
We then went down to the Largest trees in NZ. They were in a very dense jungle that had miadering, elevated wooden tracks built through it to keep visitors from disrupting the ecosystem. These trees were enormous. They were 20 meters around, looked kind of like LOTR talking trees but fatter.
Saturday was pretty chill. we drove down a peninsula and back, another beautiful beach ect.On the way to camp we saw a sign that said Mt Auckland hiking, so I drove up the hill and parked. Started hiking down a grassy road with at forest of pine on a steep hill about 40 meters to the right. I walked to the fence and looked down into a dark scary forest and immediately thought we must go in there. So we jumped the fence and went down the steep into the dark unknown. We needed walking sticks just to get down. The ground was so covered in dead plant matter it was soft and spongy. We came out the bottom and looked up another hill but grassy, it was a cow pasture. We had wanted to get closer to some "wildlife" so I started up the grassy hill toward two large cows. As approached, they stood ground and stared me down like I had never seen a cow do. Then I saw a calf behind one of them. I decided I was close enough. Snapped a few pics and then left. We went around the hill side further away from them and toward some sheep that did just the opposite of the cows. They made a bunch of noise and moved away from us. So I gave chase but trying to move through a swampy area of pasture I made some wrong steps and fell in deep mud up to my knees. Panicking, I tried to run out and left my shoes buried in the mud, then had to go dig them out. Funny shit, but I was covered. I decided to was my cloths off in a creek near by so I wouldn't get the camper and my other cloths all messy.
We went to camp down about 30 minutes from Auckland since the van was due back at 2pm the next morning. We found a beach but it had no camping signs every where. There was a holiday park that wanted $13 per person to park the van there. The only thing we wanted was a shower, so I parked the van down the street and in the dark of night walked in and used the hot shower. $.50 for 5 minutes, more than I needed. It felt so god to be clean. That was the first real shower other than streams and creeks for about 5 days. We end up looking for a spot to park the van for an hour before i drove into a field and parked. We drank a six pack of Grolsh and had eggs and toast in the moon light using the gas cooker like a camp fire to sit around and stay warm. When we woke up I realized we were on a carrot farm, there were Chinese men working the fields and a tractor spraying some stuff. They were all looking at us like they had never seen hippies camping in a carrot field before. Weird, so we left.
We cleaned and returned the van with the hopes we would only be a the city for one more day until we could find jobs out in the country side. The city just wasn't anything like the NZ we had just experienced. Too many people and cars and no scenery.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Campervan to the North pt. 1

Back to Auckland after a five day adventure with two nice young Germans. I rented a camper van that would hold three, hoping that I could find some people within less than a day to fill the seats and share the cost of the expedition as well as keep me company. I was very fortunate to have the company of Clemens and Julia. They were very open minded about where we would go and what we would see. I thought because I am here for a year and starting near the top of the north island, I would go check out the north first so that I could go south after that and see the other 90% of the country.
The after noon I picked up the campervan, which just a 1989 Toyota mini van with a double bed a back, it was raining pretty hard. They drive on the wrong side of the road here and the steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car as well. It was a very scary process getting out of Auckland, its a lot like down town San Diego, which still messes me up driving down there. Once we on the motorway out of town headed north the rain and wind really started coming down hard. I thought this must be normal for NZ because it was my only time here. But we we all still amazed how beautiful it all was. Lush rolling green hills of fertile land full of friendly sheep and cattle. The plants seem to flourish in the wet climate. I thought in my next life I want to be a NZ sheep until I remembered the delicious lambbuger I had for lunch.
The first day we drove a hundred kilometers. The time we saw tropical beach I pulled over to take pics. It was raining but we joyishly ran out on the wet sand to celebrate our arrival to natural NZ that we had seen in the picture books that had attracted us here in the first place.
Germans get there drivers license when they turn 18,Clemens 21 and julias 19, so I had quite a bit more experience than either of them. So I was the only driver for the 6 day trip. We continued up the east coast til I found a small patch of grass over looking a bay with the oil refinery in the distance. Not what you would think of when you think of NZ landscape, but it had its own beauty from a distance.
Sleeping on a double bed with two others is a little tight but tolerable. When you split the cost three ways, It is actually cheaper than a hostel with 7 or ten other people in the room. With a beer of two, I went right to sleep. But I found that sleeping farthest from the door I had to pee out the window in the middle of the night. After the first night with my new friends, I felt good. Glad to be out of the hostel, out of the city, have a direction I lacked the first couple of days in my new counrty, and glad to have some company. In morning we saw sun, it looked so nice shining down on the water below and it felt even better.
On our way to the northern most point of the island, Cape Regina, We stopped at a hiking trail I saw on the map. We had to drive down a long dirt dirt road with 100 kph limit to get there. We crossed a 150 meter foot bridge over a small gulf, then walked into very healthy forest of pines and ferns. We walked through fields and jungles untill we fished the loop and arrived back at our car.
Then we drove up to the Bay of Islands, an upscale beach town with plenty of water sports and bars to spend your tourist dollars on. We went to a liquor store to get some beers, the took them across the street to drink them on the sunny beach. We sat there a couple of ours and cooked some spaghetti. It was very nice to not have an agenda. A very free feeling; we could go anywhere, do anything we wanted. We decided to cross the land over to the west coast, about an hours drive. We found 90 mile beach, it didn't say no driving, but the rental shop said we would get suck in the sand, so we just walked out there to take some pics. Its a long beach that stretches up north to disappear in the distance. It was longer than anyone could possibly see. It was getting cold and We couldn't camp there so we started back to the motorway. I noticed an empty field next to a lake so I pulled in. There were no "no camping" signs, so we figured it was fine to. We gathered some wood to start a fire right on the grass. Another hippie van from the same company drove by and we signaled them to come over. They were a sweetish couple looking for a place to sleep to. I invited them to have dinner and drinks with us around the fire. Can't remember their names but they were very nice. They were on a world airline pass that costs $5000 and last for 39 months. They had saved for three years and were now in their 4th month of a one year world tour. They had been to central and south America, and Australia. Next they are going to Figi then Asia. I was very interesting seeing people from all over the world here in NZ, they all speak English and one or two other languages. It really humbles me and highlights America's arrogance and egocentricity. We have a long way to go.
The next morning we started north again. We didn't get 3 miles before something caught my eye and I made an abrupt stop. There was a closed gate, but it went into a curious looking forest. There were pines and eucalyptus together, which I had never seen. I led my wary over the fence onto what was obviously private land. We walked deeper into the dark shaded forest passed very fresh cow patties scattered around. I was just waiting for a farmer with a shotgun to come riding up on a horse and tell us what we already new. We should leave, but I was just so cool in there. I led them up a hill and down into an opening that looked kind of like an animated golf coarse but in was trimmed by cows. When we got there I saw trees in the distance I had never seen before. It looked like A hidden level on Super Mario Brothers 2. I took a few pics then, satisfied that I had done what I came to do, we left with out incident.