It was just a usual Monday afternoon in Cork, as I was sitting down to eat some soup and sandwiches for lunch. Suddenly my mobile rings and it turns out to be a good friend of mine, Dan, calling from New Zealand. He is walking home from a drunken night out and it is circa 3am in NZ. We chat for a while and I laugh (at his drunkeness!) and then he asks me, “So, when are you coming to visit me in New Zealand?”. As I had plans to travel to Oz in the near future (just waiting for my Visa) I tell him some day, some day.
As fate would have it,and much to Dans shock, some day turned out to be that weekend!! Flights were booked 72 hours before departure and off I went to pay a visit to Dan and of course my best friend Ali, who was living in Auckland.
While most people have a long list of places they *must* visit I simply had a list of people I had to see. It was absolutely awesome to see Ali again and meeting her new love, Ben.
As Ali was working most days I got in touch with the ever trustworthy Auckland Couchsurfing network and signed up for a free tour of Auckland’s Beaches. We drove all around the city and ended up at the opposite side of the harbour with spectacular views of Auckland’s Skyline.
From some old war bunker to protect against attacking russians (yup New Zealand ACTUALLY feared Russia might one day attack them?!?!?) to miles of glistening white sand, cute little Ice- Creameries and quaint suburbs, my little tour of Auckland was magical.
- Pretty Blue Harbour…oh and me!
- Aucklands beautiful beach
Dan hitchhiked from Lake Taupo for the weekend and we partied like we’ve never partied before, (pub) crawling our way around a city neither of us knew too well, and ended up in a Casino circa 5am. We also bumped into a fellow Irishman, who turned out to be from Galway and went to School with my cousin. Small World.
The second night we ended up in some “Cowboys and Indians” bar which I still claim to be the most awesome bar in the world. They gave away free cowboys hats to all customers, the beer was seriously cheap, there was Karaoke on ALL the time, and they even let us stand on the bar to do Riverdance. Fun times!
One of my last days in Auckland, Ali’s boyfriend Ben organised for us all to go on a bus tour with his hostel to Piha. 30 crazy backpackers on a bus and the ‘tour leader’, a young welsh guy who must have eaten WAY too much skittles (as his energy is endless), decides it would be a good idea to stop at the Bottle-O to stock up on alcohol for the 2 hour bus journey. So now we have 30 crazy, DRUNK, backpackers on a bus.It was SWEET AS, as the Kiwis would say.
The tour itself was incredible and included swimming under a waterfall in a national park, an awesome picnic on Piha beach, which is one of the most dangerous yet most spectacular stretches of coast in all of New Zealand. Despite big plans to party the night away back in Auckland with all our newly made friends, the effects of alcohol, dehydration and exhaustion set in and I had my first (and only) lazy night of my trip.
For my last night Ali and I ended up heading the Auckland Couchsurfing monthly meet up down in the harbour. I had previously planned to meet up with a friend from home, Aimie, who was alos visiting Auckland, but she had a prior dinner commitment with her family.
The CS party was great fun and there were over 50 people from various countries to talk to. ABout half way through the night, I heard someone call my name, only to turn around and see Aimie and her family having dinner in the same venue as the CS party. We couldn’t believe the co-incidence. Yet again I say, SMALL WORLD.
- Auckland Skyline
- Janet and Ali, Cowgirls
- Shosef (from Galway) and Dan