Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Corner of the world I

For my next few blogs, I will be accompanied by my good friend and partner in crime Vicki who had come from England to stay with me for a month. 

New Zealand

New Zealand, a small island country sitting quietly on its own in the corner of the world.  I always planned to drop by New Zealand whilst I was living in Australia but I had recently cancelled this planned excursion because I wanted to focus on getting farm work and get my second visa. 

However I came to learn that an old friend of mine from England who emigrated to New Zealand was getting married next month and that Vicki and I were invited to the wedding.  What are the chances?  It was a once in a life time offer and I could never turn it down.  The farm work would just have to wait a bit longer.

Corner of the world

So what did I know about New Zealand?  Well, what do most people know about New Zealand?  Unless you are from New Zealand yourself or have a special interest in the country then the average person’s (myself included) general knowledge regarding this country is usually very limited.

New Zealand rarely shows up on the international radar of gossip and it seems its only recent claim to fame is that a very popular Hollywood fantasy film was shot there, a fact that never fails to come up in New Zealand related conversation. 

“I am going to New Zealand next week” I would say talking to someone, “oh, that is where they filmed Lord of the Rings isn’t it?” the other person would ask, “yes it is” I would answer and that would pretty much be the end of the New Zealand related conversation.  Either that or the other person would make some poor joke involving Orcs.

To me I liked the fact that New Zealand is very much unknown.  I have it in my mind that New Zealand will be a temporary escape from the restless and media obsessed city of Sydney that had been my home for the past 8 months, I felt like I needed a holiday and maybe here I can get some peace.

First sight of New Zealand, note the absence of Mordor.

Beyond the Tasman sea

I thought the flight to New Zealand would be short.  New Zealand and Australia are right next to each other, right?  Well compared to other nearby countries yes but a good look at a map and you will realize that there is a lot of blue sea between New Zealand and Australia.  It took around 4 hours before the Orc infested lands of New Zealand began to appear in my small cabin window.  First impressions of New Zealand?  Well it is certainly a lot greener than Australia.

Another thing I quickly noticed after getting off the plane was the air here was a lot cooler and fresher compared to the air in Sydney.  It had that fresh feeling you notice in the air after a heavy downpour of rain, only here it seemed to be the norm.

The journey from the airport was relatively uneventful but it is always exciting getting a bus into a new city that you have never visited before.  At the hostel we were greeted by the receptionist who was a big young Maori looking bloke wearing an American style sports jersey and a flat rim baseball cap.  He seemed like a nice enough guy and gave us the keys to our room.

Cool room bro

Our room was basic, dull and had a cool feeling lingering in the air.  The walls, furniture and even the bedding was cold to the touch.  I attempted to turn on the electric radiator but there was no life in it.  The radiator was old, tired looking and was covered in dents.  It looked like someone had previously tried to get it working by repeatedly hitting it.

Along with the broken heater the large window that sat above it was single glazed.  Touching this window was like touching a sheet of ice.  In fairness it probably wasn’t that bad but I had just come from Sydney where the climate was a lot warmer.  Here across the Tasman Sea everything was a lot colder.

I went back down to speak to the receptionist.  “Yes, I reported the broken heater last week” the baseball cap wearing Maori man said “I tried to get it working for you before you arrived”.  Maybe he was the one who had assaulted our radiator in an impatient and uneducated attempt to get it working.  “I would move you but unfortunately all the other rooms are booked” he said with a concerned look on his face.  Looks like Vicki and I would just have to acclimatize.

But anyway Vicki and I didn’t come here to sit in an uncomfortably cold budget hostel room.  We were only had a few days before the wedding and then shortly after we would be heading back to Sydney.  There was much to see and I couldn’t wait, I had that new adventure feeling.

Our home away from home away from home.