Aotearoa, part II

 

 

 

I f Mary Jane had a middle name, it would surely be called Aotearoa. In no other land have I been offered as much MJ while hitchhiking as in New Zealand. I got picked up by two professional MJ farmers in different cities and spent the night with both families. Allegedly, New Zealand has the highest rate of cannabis use on Earth. I finally understand why they call it “The Land of a Long White Cloud” and it has nothing to do with the stuff I learned in school. :))) It was more of a rule than exception to be offered MJ during the ride and few drivers insisted to give me a small stash “for the road”.

 

These are some of the gifts I received in 3 weeks in New Zealand, but surely the most memorable ones:

 

- A book

- A taser gun

- Mary Jane

- A dog

 

When it comes to choosing gifts for their guests, Kiwis seem to be quite shocking, but practical.

 

 

Talking about practicality… I came across this guy on the street of Rotorua and complimented his awesome, long dreads. Next thing you know, he offered to drive me out of town and dropped me off at a perfect spot to hitchhike to Taupo. Honest compliment and a few kind words go a long way...

 

An honest compliment and a few kind words go a long way…
An honest compliment and a few kind words go a long way…

 

My ride out of Rotorua.
My ride out of Rotorua.

 

Soon after that, I got picked up by a really great woman called Megan who took me to see how a glass blowing is done in the Lava Glass Studio that was on our way to Taupo.

 

Chris Jones is doing his magic.
Chris Jones is doing his magic.

 

Lava Glass Studio
Behind Chris is a glory hole. They seriously call it a glory hole, I'm not making this up. :)) It's the 2nd furnace. They turn it on and off each day. It sits at 1200C and it is used to quickly reheat the glass as it cools down in the process of making the piece.

 

Magic!
Magic!

 

Megan and I also stopped in Waimangu and Wai-O-Tapu to check out some beautiful nature…

Frying Pan Lake is one of the world's largest hot pools.
Frying Pan Lake is one of the world's largest hot pools.

 

Blue pool at Warbrick Terrace.
Blue pool at Warbrick Terrace.

 

This stinky lake is not photoshopped. They call it Devil's Bath and it looks like a radioactive dump site because of the green sulphur.
This stinky lake is not photoshopped. They call it Devil's Bath and it looks like a radioactive dump site because of the green sulphur.

 

At the Champagne Pool. Too bad I stopped drinking few years ago. :))
At the Champagne Pool. Too bad I stopped drinking few years ago. :))

 

Champagne Pool
It is orange around the edges thanks to arsenic and antimony sulfides...or someone took the name Champagne Pool literally and after a glass or three puked it all back in. :))

 

Everything seems to be steaming or bubbling in New Zealand… or both.
Everything seems to be steaming or bubbling in New Zealand… or both.

 

The colors of Waimangu.
The colors of Waimangu.

 

Around Waimangu valley.
Around Waimangu valley.

 

It’s called a Champagne Pool, because it looks like a glass of bubbling champagne.
It’s called a Champagne Pool, because it looks like a glass of bubbling champagne.

 

Cathedral Rocks in Waimango.
Cathedral Rocks in Waimango.

 

Smelling like a truckload of rotten eggs.
Smelling like a truckload of rotten eggs.

 

They call it Waiotapu Artist's Palette…but it’s probably more colorful on a sunny day.
They call it Waiotapu Artist's Palette…but it’s probably more colorful on a sunny day.

 

If you are looking for the sky, it has fallen in the Lake Ngakoro.
If you are looking for the sky, it has fallen in the Lake Ngakoro.

 

When I finally arrived to Taupo, I was planning to walk a beautiful Tongariro Crossing, but it was raining cats, dogs and other animals…so I gave up after a few days of waiting and moved down to the windy capital of New Zealand, Wellington.

 

This is Lake Taupo and Mount Ruapehu in a distance. Some of the scenes from The Lord of the Rings were filmed on the actual slopes of Mount Ruapehu.
This is Lake Taupo and Mount Ruapehu in a distance. Some of the scenes from The Lord of the Rings were filmed on the actual slopes of Mount Ruapehu.

 

I have got a ride with Iain and his dog on the way to Huka Falls and this was part of our amusing conversation...

 

 

Iain: My ex-girlfriend was Croatian.

 

Me: Ohh really? Where did you meet her?

 

Iain: On the internet.

 

Me: Wow, you’re lucky she wasn’t a man.

 

Iain: She might have been a man… I discovered it was a scam just before I sent her some money.

…but I’m more careful now. Just recently, I’ve got engaged to a Filipino girl.

 

Me: Congratulations! Where did you meet her?

 

Iain: On the internet.

 

Me: LOL! You have just told me you are more careful now…so how is that more careful?!

 

Iain: I went to visit her in Philippines. She is definitely a girl. I stayed there for 3 weeks. I absolutely loved it and we got engaged.

 

Me: After only 3 weeks? You don’t waste any time, do you?

 

Iain: Naaaah, her family loves me. She asked me to help them with some money, so I sent her $5000 last week.

 

Moral of the story: age doesn't always equal wisdom.

 

Huka Falls - 220,000 litres per second...enough to fill one Olympic sized swimming pool in 11 seconds!
Huka Falls - 220,000 litres per second...enough to fill one Olympic sized swimming pool in 11 seconds!

 

Iain took me to see the Huka Falls. The noise, the power and the energy of the water is really hard to describe when you’re standing on the bridge and my photo (above) doesn’t do it any justice.

 

Awesome couple who decided to host me in beautiful Napier and decided to take me to the place that has been listed in the Guinness World Records as the longest place name.
Awesome couple who decided to host me in beautiful Napier and decided to take me to the place that has been listed in the Guinness World Records as the longest place name.

 

My sign is missing 30 letters because I ran out of space…
My sign is missing 30 letters because I ran out of space…

 

The name "Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu" translates roughly as "The place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as ‘land-eater’, played his flute to his loved one".
The name "Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu" translates roughly as "The place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as ‘land-eater’, played his flute to his loved one".

 

We spotted these random waterfalls on the road from Taupo to Napier.
We spotted these random waterfalls on the road from Taupo to Napier.

 

When I finally arrived to Wellington, I figured this must be the place where all the hitchhikers eat… :)))
When I finally arrived to Wellington, I figured this must be the place where all the hitchhikers eat… :)))

 

Te Papa Museum
I stupidly made myself go to Te Papa Museum and died out of boredom. This marae (meeting ground for Māori community) was the only bright point. Ok, and a live demonstration of the earthquake inside of the house. That was pretty cool, too.

 

Panoramic view of Wellington and the harbor from the Mount Victoria.
Panoramic view of Wellington and the harbor from the Mount Victoria.

 

Wellington
Wellington was arty-farty and awesome, but it was cold, rainy and windy and I didn’t bother taking photos. There was a street art on pretty much every other building, but I only snapped 1 pic.

 

That cheeky look says “I divorced my a**hole husband and I’m going traveling in a few weeks.” I’m not joking. That was her story. <3
That cheeky look says “I divorced my a**hole husband and I’m going traveling in a few weeks.” I’m not joking. That was her story. <3

 

My cheeky lady driver also stopped by this pretty beach to show me around.
My cheeky lady driver also stopped by this pretty beach to show me around.

 

 

Next few pics are from New Plymouth which is a cool town on the west coast.
Next few pics are from New Plymouth which is a cool town on the west coast.

 

There is a colony of seals along the coast and a mini blue penguins. Blue penguins are nocturnal, so you can only see them during the night....if you are at the right time in the right place. :))
There is a colony of seals along the coast and a mini blue penguins. Blue penguins are nocturnal, so you can only see them during the night....if you are at the right time in the right place. :))

 

They call themselves New Zealand's most courageous contemporary art museum. Located in New Plymouth.
They call themselves New Zealand's most courageous contemporary art museum. Located in New Plymouth.

 

The coastline of New Plymouth.
The coastline of New Plymouth.

 

Some of my rides are too epic to describe. Let the pic speak for itself. :)))
Some of my rides are too epic to describe. Let the pic speak for itself. :))

 

This is the “Tree Church” near Ohaupo town. It’s all built by different types of trees/plants. Regular ticket to see it is 15 NZD, but my crazy-awesome driver drove me through the gates and right in front of the church where I snapped few picks “on the run” and jumped back in the car, before the priest managed to blink. :)) It doesn’t look as spectacular as it does during "the season", because the weather was still pretty cold.

 

The Tree Church
The Tree Church

 

 

My ride to Raglan was one of a kind. I got picked up by Johnny, the insurance seller, who was going to the meeting with the client to finalize the contract and decided to take me with him. The client was a lovely Maori family. Before signing the contract, they passed the bong around the table. Later on, Johnny offered me a job in his company on our way to Raglan. :))

 

This is Johnny. My drivers used to take me to their weddings, family vacations, lunches or cemeteries, but I have never been taken to a business meeting while hitchhiking...until I've met Johnny. :))
This is Johnny. My drivers used to take me to their weddings, family vacations, lunches or cemeteries, but I have never been taken to a business meeting while hitchhiking...until I've met Johnny. :))

 

Mr. Bong made by Maori family.
Mr. Bong made by Maori family.

 

Client's meeting on the west coast... one round of bonging before signing of the contract.
Client's meeting on the west coast... one round of bonging before signing of the contract.

 

Raglan was one of my favorite spots despite a horrible weather. Not many pics from there, because it was raining cats and dogs and all the other animals…

 

Beautiful 55m Bridal Veil Falls. It was raining really hard, so all my waterfall pics are blurry and misty.
Beautiful 55m Bridal Veil Falls. It was raining really hard, so all my waterfall pics are blurry and misty.

 

Look up! It's magical!
Look up! It's magical!

 

Elegant Mrs. Fern
Elegant Mrs. Fern

 

This is Peter and he is one of the drivers with the strangest life story I've ever heard. Meeting him was pretty awesome.
This is Peter and he is one of the drivers with the strangest life story I've ever heard. Meeting him was pretty awesome.

 

Gotta take a photo in Kihikihi, right? :))
Gotta take a photo in Kihikihi, right? :))

 

...and here we go, again. I got picked up by another marijuana farmer.
...and here we go, again. I got picked up by another marijuana farmer. <3

 

These are the redwoods in Whakarewarewa forest. Amazing trees!!!
These are the redwoods in Whakarewarewa forest. Amazing trees!!!

 

Wow, wow, wow...the color of the water!
Wow, wow, wow...the color of the water!

 

Whakarewarewa forest
Whakarewarewa forest.

 

I got picked up by Jack on my way to Matamata. He was going to the town above Auckland, but decided to make a detour and visit the Hobbiton movie set with me. That location was used for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy and The Hobbit film series. The place is WAY TOO touristic and the rule is to stick with your tour guide the whole way. I generally can’t stand such places, because I don't like waiting around and Jack is the racer and an ex-special forces guy who loses his shit easily, too…so we decided to wonder around on our own and got in trouble as the tour guide accused us of trespassing. Needless to say we missed our group and transportation from the Hobbiton back to the car, because we failed to stick to our group, again...

 

Nothing but a trouble.
Nothing but a trouble.

 

I could live here. The Hobbiton needs one giant.
I could live here. The Hobbiton needs one giant.

 

I've tried not to have all the tourist in the photo, but trust me when I tell you, IT IS VERY TOURISTIC.
I've tried not to have all the tourist in the photo, but trust me when I tell you, IT IS VERY TOURISTIC.

 

The Hobbiton is part of a private farmland and it is stunning.
The Hobbiton is part of a private farmland and it is stunning.

 

Well behaved kids in front of the hobbit hole.
Well behaved kids in front of the hobbit hole.

 

My 2nd time in Auckland I got hosted by Aaron, the guy who I met in the coffee shop on my very 1st day in Auckland when I arrived, 3 weeks ago. He lives literally 100m from the Sky Tower in the center of the center. In case you are wondering how I could possibly trust a random guy from the coffee shop… The answer is, I don’t trust a guy, I trust my own judgment and my gut feeling. I stayed in his flat for 3 nights before leaving to French Polynesia and he turned out to be a great guy and better host than some people I stayed with via Couchsurfing.

 

Aaron, the guy from a coffee shop.
Aaron, the guy from a coffee shop.

 

Auckland from Mount Eden.
Auckland from Mount Eden.

 

Aaron took me to Muriwai Beach which extends 60 km to the north - a line of black sand between the thundering surf and the sand hills.
Aaron took me to Muriwai Beach which extends 60 km to the north - a line of black sand between the thundering surf and the sand hills.

 

This is Muriwai's gannet colony. About 1,200 pairs of gannets nest here from August to March each year.
This is Muriwai's gannet colony. About 1,200 pairs of gannets nest here from August to March each year.

 

The views from the colony are amazing.
The views from the colony are amazing.

 

 

Aaron decided not to work over the weekend, so he had time to show me some amazing spots around Auckland. We also went target shooting with the rifle; we played golf and baseball and I lost the game of mini golf, so I had to buy him a dinner.

 

Kicking ass on the golf range.
Kicking ass on the golf range.

 

Stunning view of Muriwai Beach.
Stunning view of Muriwai Beach.

 

Fisherman, surfers and some big waves...
Fisherman, surfers and some big waves...

 

Hairy tree above me.
Hairy tree above me.

 

Gannet in action.
Gannet in action.

 

Kitesurfing at Muriwai beach.
Kitesurfing at Muriwai beach.

 

In short, the rainy weather followed me through all 3 weeks of my stay in New Zealand, but the people and the nature made up for all the shitty weather. New Zealand is high on the list of my most favorite countries and MJ shouldn’t take too much credit for it.

 

Thank you lovely Kiwis for being such a great example of humanity. We will be seeing each other again as I can't wait to visit the South Island! <3

 

 

 

  • Vanai

    Awesome pics and post! U go girl!!!