What started out as a day in Queenstown, ended with a night of homelessness in Paihia.
Note: Travel plans do not always work out... No plans do not always work out. #winning
Today I flew from Queenstown to Auckland and in my head, I thought I would be staying the night in Auckland. I arrived in Auckland, grabbed a sandwich from subway and made my way to a YHA Hostel. I was going to stay the night, but then I asked..."Is there any reason I should stay in Auckland tonight? Is there an event I need to go to, etc?" They replied with, "Unless you're into the city and nightlife, maybe not." Then I said, "Okay is there still a bus headed to Bay of Islands?" They replied with yes, and so I asked to get booked on it. An hour later, I was on a bus headed to somewhere in the Bay of Islands called Whangarai (pronounced - Fung-a-ray). I arrived in Whangarai, got off the bus and asked the bus driver where a hostel was and he looked at me blankly. He told me I should get back on the bus and go to Paihia because it was much more touristy. Since it was 7 pm at this point, I figured I would listen and got on the bus to ride to Paihia.
On the way there, it came to my attention that there may not be any room in hostels because it was a public holiday weekend (175th anniversary for Auckland). On the way there, I texted some friends to get phone numbers for hostels and began calling to see if there was any vacancy in Paihia for hostels... there was not and on top of that, my phone ran out of credit so I had to stop making calls. OOPS. So I came up with a quick backup plan of -- if all fails -- I must find a campground and use my emergency tarp tent and sleeping bag and pray it didn't rain. Thank goodness I brought my sleeping bag -- it was a big debate between sleeping bag/aerial silk and then I decided I needed to bring my sleeping bag and silk even though it completely filled my entire hiking backpack.
I got off the bus and met a friendly guy from the Netherlands (friendly, like a little brother you creep). I got this vibe that he didn't have a place booked either and I told him all the hostels were booked and said I was going to a campground if he wanted to join. I heard some sketchy stories about the area, so I figured, 2 is better than one and hey sometimes it's nice to have a guy around so other guys leave you alone #truestory. He joined, we found a campground that was shut down, but people were there, he borrowed a sleeping bag from the camp ground attendant who lived right by the area and we slept under the stars and listened to the waves crash. Not a bad way to start this trip out...
I woke up to the sun shining down on me and slowly packed up camp. My new netherlands friend and I considered renting a car together to drive up north, but hey, everything was booked. Meanwhile we made friends with a group of Maori people camping by us and we both tried sea urchin for the first time... lets just say, it's not my favorite breakfast, but I'm very proud of myself for trying it #selfhighfive.
We both split and made our way to our hostels and then joined up later to go to action world. I was determined to go to Action World because, they had a flying trapeze and... get this... it only cost $21 to get in and play on the trapeze and all the other fun circus things like monkey bars, a tight rope (up high too), a wobbly ladder, a slide, a trampoline, a rock wall -- Kairos Family, you would be in heaven --I know I was. As soon as I got there, I was so glad that my new friend had come with me because... there were kids playing on these action world circus toys, no adults, the adults were just watching.
We started playing circus immediately and did the obstacles we had to pass off before going on the flying trapeze and then we flew. I have tried flying trapeze once in my life and loved it. I had a harness and it was super safe because it was a summer camp I use to work at in Pennsylvania. I didn't have to wear a harness here, I knew the risks, but it was worth the risk. My main goal was to swing from one trapeze to the next and flip and guess what I did it and it horrified me!! Seriously, one of the most thrilling and scariest things I have done. I had to fully let go and trust my body to go where it needed to go and trust my hands to catch me and trust my body to not flail into the bars, etc. I love flying trapeze #circusfreakforever.
We later booked a boat over to an island called Otehei Bay. We roamed around the area and found rock natural rock pools in the ocean and then on the walk back, I discovered the coolest starfish in the world on shore. I didn't touch it because it was moving faster than I have ever seen a starfish move (which was still slow), but I did make a movie. That starfish can be named patrick after the starfish in spongebob square pants.
Today I woke up nice and early and roamed to meet up with some new friends from the day before. We were driving up to Kaeo to meet a bus company called Harrison's. We were going to see 90 mile beach (which is not actually 90 miles), go sand boarding, and do a short walk to Cape Reinga which is one of the most northern points in NZ. That tour could possibly be the best $50 I have spent and did I mention it included lunch and good company. I met an awesome couple from Wisconsin and I am hoping to reunite with them when they get to the South Island.
On a side note, tour ended, we drove back to Paihia and I decided if I was going to Scuba Dive, which I really wanted to do, but I had not really planned or booked anything then I needed to get to Tutukaka or Whangarai tonight. Words can not describe how stressful of a process this was, but all ended well. I made it to the hostel just outside of Whangarai at 8:27pm -- they closed at 8:30 and they had been very firm on that when I spoke to them (It was very stressful because I had to find a ride and such to get there and there were no more buses leaving Paihia). I also managed to book my dive with Yukon Dive last minute and everything magically worked out. Tomorrow I scuba dive Port Knights Island.
Two months ago I left my home in Utah and 4 months ago a part of me died. Today I choose life, I generally choose life when I wake up in the morning and I was lucky enough to Scuba Dive at Port Knights Island just off of Tutukaka. I got to see colorful coral shadowed with kelp forests, an eagle ray, and some pretty large sized nudibranches. Weeee... I love scuba diving and getting in touch with mermaid brooke. On a side note... I think my camera is broken, it won't turn on and it appears water has leaked... that's sad.
My shuttle came to get me after and I met this lovely girl named Jan-Et from Switzerland. I also booked the same bus she was on to get to Auckland so, we were in for spending some good quality time together after our dive. Lucky for me, we clicked and had quite alot in common. We got groceries together and did it ultra backpacker style -- grab a cart, through our big old backpacks in them, and roll around buying the typical things -- bread, peanut butter, granola bars, apples, bananas and then ran to catch the bus.
We ended the night in Auckland going out to dinner with another friend, Lena, she had met earlier in travels. It feels so good to focus on the here and the now. I definitely hope to cross paths with these girls again! Over and out -- tomorrow I am off to Wanderlust and tonight I got to sleep like a beast, much needed.