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AeonHunter in New Zealand

a travel blog by aeonhunterinnz

A seminarian and his best friend bike across New Zealand's North Island.
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Wellington Day 2

Wellington, New Zealand

WELLINGTON Day 2 (2km, 438km total) - Most of today we spent running errands around Wellington. Shad got his bike tire trued and his wireless internet fixed. I bought some replacements for the lost or missing S hooks on my panniers. We tried to get Shad's ipod fixed too, but that didn't quite work out, so we'll just wait till we get back to the States.

In the afternoon we met up with our host Lucy who has a flat right off the main drag downtown. She's a uni student here studying languages and primary school teaching. She let us hang out for a while then we all went out for malaysian food and a few drinks. It's been a rather uneventful day, but we got a lot of needed stuff done and I'm feeling much much better. The stomach rot has passed.

permalink written by  aeonhunterinnz on December 22, 2009 from Wellington, New Zealand
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Haumoana, New Zealand

Haumoana (15km, 453km total) - Wellington deserves more time. I've seen some of the street life and hit up the main museum, but I feel like I've barely scratched the surface. There wasn't enough time to visit the WETA Workshop of any of Wellywood (Wellington's filmmaking locations). There are gardens and scenic preserves left to explore. There's a buzzing arts, dance, and theater scene which has remained out of reach. A couple days is not enough time to do Wellington.

I did manage to buy an outlet adaptor that will work for my camera battery charger, so I can finally start taking and uploading some pictures of this trip. We also managed to run into Paul, the guy who biked with us a few days ago. He was just walking down the street and saw us with our bikes. It was good to see him again. We had a beer and were able to catch up a bit before we had to board our bus.

The bus ride was uneventful, but the bus was much more derelict than the last one we took. We did pass through a very impressive area of central New Zealand that was completely covered in wind turbines. They looked weird up on tops of the hills, and many of them dwarfed the hills they were standing on. We got off the bus at Hastings and biked the last 15km to Kahu's parent's House on the beach at Haumoana. It was dark when we got there and extremely difficult to see any House numbers. I think we managed to scare Kahu's mom when we came walking out of the darkness. They have a beautiful little bach here. I would love to have a little cabin like this to go away to for the holidays. Shad's letting me test out his tent tonight, and I have to admit it's pretty nice. Keeps the bugs away anyways. The beach is close and I can hear the waves just on the other side of the House.

permalink written by  aeonhunterinnz on December 23, 2009 from Haumoana, New Zealand
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Christmas Eve

Raupunga, New Zealand

CHRISTMAS EVE / WAIHUA BEACH (103km, 563km total) - For being Christmas Eve, today sucked. This has easily been the hardest day of biking on this entire trip. I'm wondering why I didn't think to take the bus all the way to Gisborne?

The day started out well enough. It was flat from Haumoana all the way to Napier. We got the earliest start yet, leaving before 8am. In Napier we found internet, a grocery store, and breakfast. The cafe we landed at was too expensive for my blood, so I went a few doors down to a bakery and got a muffin and something called a Christmas Twist. It was completely disgusting. Covered in currants, candied pieces of unidentifiable fruit, and tons of sugar and frosting. I couldn't eat it all, and immediately regretted my decision to be cheap. Yeck!

When we left Napier the road was still good for about 20km. We stopped in at a really cool winery with a unique patio, a mix of rustic and buddism and comfort. They charged for tastings though, so we didn't stay very long. When the road started climbing into the hills, it went from friendly to very very mean. We passed through a lot of steep gorges, an endless series of ups and downs. The worst was a breakneck decline with a 180 degree turn at the bottom, followed by a super steep incline up the other side. (I would later learn this is called the "Devil's Elbow".) We passed a nice set of lakes, but then immediately got back into the hills.

Towards the end of the day, as we neared Raupunga, there was a spectacular railway bridge over a huge gorge. This was the Mohaka Viaduct, the highest railway bridge in the southern hemisphere. We stopped for a couple pictures and a look at the map. We were aiming for Waihua Beach and there was only a few kilometers left in between. We hoped for one more ridge and then a nice downhill to the beach. Were we ever wrong. Seven steep hills later we were still in the middle of climbing. Each hill seemed to come out of nowhere and each was steeper than the one before. Our biking guide book somehow overlooked this section of the trip. If there is a biking hell, this is it.

When we finally did get to the downhill I let loose on the brakes and flew down as fast as I could. I was ready to be done. At the bottom I looked back for Shad, but he wasn't there. I waited and as the minutes ticked by I got more and more worried. Had he fallen again like he did coming out of Marokopa? As I waited there, cars began to stop. The first one told me my friend's tire exploded and he was on the side of the road. The second one to stop told me my friend had been hit by a car! Worried, I stashed my bike under a bush and went out to flag down the next car to come by. I was picturing Shad with a broken arm or a concussion or any number of ill fates. The first car to pass stopped immediately and offered me a ride to the top. They had been the first ones to stop and help Shad and had been sent to get me. When we got to the top Shad's bike was upside down and his hands were covered in blood. They had been the first things to hit the ground when he went down and gotten sufficiently torn up.

I changed his tire (which had indeed exploded) as he tried to clean and wrap up his mangled hands. He'd bent his saddle, but other than that and the tire the bike seemed okay. Apparently he had just hit a bit of gravel on one of the turns and couldn't keep upright. We then flagged down the next car to take me back to my bike and finally we were able to coast downhill the rest of the way to the beach.

At least the beach was everything we hoped it would be. We went around a hill at the bottom of the road and found a perfect isolated spot sandwiched between the river and the Pacific Ocean. There were even a number of logs stuck into the sand that I could hang my hammock from. I worked on securing those longs and hanging my hammock while Shad wandered the beach and took photos of the sunset. Then we went to work. I made dinner while Shad prepared a fire. Our Christmas dinner was absolutely delicious: spiced tomatoes and tuna with mushrooms and vegetables, served with rice and tortillas. Shad insisted that we stay another night, but I pushed back. There wasn't enough water (the river was undrinkable), no shade, we needed to get his hands cleaned up, and I was eager to get to our couch in Gisborne. Our host is Carol and I have no way to get in contact with her should we decide not to show up. Plus we would never make it around the East Coast to Mt Maunganui by New Year's if we took another day.

After a bit around the fire, I went down to bathe and wash dishes in the river. The water was nice and warm and it began as a very pleasant experience. I waded in about waist deep and started washing the dishes. Then I began to feel a bit of debris moving past my feet and around my waist with the current. At first I though nothing of it. Then as I began to feel it more often I got freaked out and thought it was leeches. I got our real fast, but there were no leeches or anything that I could see. Telling myself it was just my imagination, I inched back into the water, not as deep this time and crouching for a quick escape. Again I felt the sensation of debris bumping up against my body. I reached for it and only found pebbles, but I kept feeling it, especially around my butt. I looked to my left and the headlamp shone on the water, and there beside me was a very curious 2-foot long freshwater eel! I moved out of that water as fast as I possibly could, cursing to all hell. I was not about to let an eel swim up my ass! I got dressed and finished the dishes from the shore. I went back to the campfire shaken and was very happy to end the night with a bottle of scotch, a warm fire, the sound of the waves, and no eels. Merry Christmas.

permalink written by  aeonhunterinnz on December 24, 2009 from Raupunga, New Zealand
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Christmas Day

Gisborne, New Zealand

CHRISTMAS DAY / GISBORNE (118km, 681km total) - Thank God for the Maori. The only reason today ended happily was because of the hospitable interventions of not a few Maori.

The day began with my hammock collapsed and me waking up on the ground. I was ready to leave the eel beach, in spite of how beautiful it was. The first 50km were relatively easy after the mess we went through yesterday. We had to stop at a Backpacker's on the side of the road for water, which we got out of a spigot attached to a tank in the back at the seemingly empty establishment. The water came out yellow at first, but it was water, which we needed very badly. There was a hellish climb out of Wairoa, but then it was relatively flat with the only obstacle being the wind. The land was sunburnt and it was very very hot.

Just outside of Nuhaka, a bubble that had been forming in my front tire exploded, ruining not only my tube, but blowing a gash in the tire as well. I was caught unprepared with plenty of spare tubes but no spare tire. The only thing we could do was hitchhike either to Gisborne or back to Wairoa to get it fixed, probably not until tomorrow when shops opened back up. There was no traffic on the road, it being Christmas Day and the worst day ever to need to hitchhike for a new tire. Finally after about half an hour a Maori family stopped, and even though there was no room for me in their car they told us they would make some calls and find us some help. They stopped at the first house down the road, and before I knew it there were kids on bikes and two more cares full of Maori people telling us to come, that they would take care of everything.

We walked our bikes to the house and were immediately introduced to every member of the Wesch family: aunts, uncles, cousins, everybody. One of the uncles immediately set about trying to find me a replacement tire. He measured my wheel and was off. A mom or an aunt made sure we had shade, cold water, and juice to drink. Then when she found out we hadn't had a proper lunch, she spread a huge Christmas feast before us. There was a roast ham, fresh fruit, potatoes, a mix of seafood, salads, cream buns, fresh bread, and shepherd's pie. It was so so delicious. The uncle got back with a rusty old 24" tire he had found who knows where in the field across from the house. He suggested it would "be just like a hot rod". I was dubious at first, but the wheel spun and held air, so we swapped out my 26" tire for the rusty 24" one. We strapped my other tire to Shad's pack and one of the girls ofered to drive us up to the top of the next hill, Morere Hill - a 15km unfriendly climb. I hopped in front and Shad and the uncle hopped in back with the bikes and she drove us nearly 20km to a lookout point at the top of a very long and ugly looking hill. I didn't stop thanking her the entire way up. Shad, meanwhile, got a wind blitzed tour from the uncle in the back of the truck.

From the lookout we still had nearly 50km to go, luckily it was mostly downhill or flat from there. We would have never made it if not for the enourmas Christmas hospitality of that family. I was never so happy to pull into a town as I was to Gisborne today.

We stopped at a hotel, the first place we could find to use a phone. We needed to get a hold of our host Carol, who had remembered to give us her phone number but not her address. The hotel was closed, but I walked around back to find a private party going on and was able to phone her. Unfortunately she didn't answer! I knew she had mentioned Bushemere Rd and Matawai Rd, but no address. We learned Bushmere Rd was close and set off, hoping to get lucky.

Finding a quick search down a very long Bushmere Rd to be dumb and fruitless, we made for a nearby gas station, Star Mart. The Maori attendant Matt took pity on us and graciously offered to let us use his phone to first send a text, then when that turned up noting, to try a phone call even though he had very very few minutes left on his phone. When we still got no answer he even offered to let us stay at his place if we couldn't find anything else.

I was very thankful, but also getting exceedingly frustrated with our situation. I encouraged Shad to try one more bikeride down the road, looking for the intersection of Bushmere and Matawi Rd. 15 minutes in, I gave up. There was nothing left to do. We rode back tot eh Star Mart, defeated. I drowned my sorrows in a meat pie and we began to look through my Lonely Planet book for a hostel or a motorcamp for the night. Then when all hope had been lost, Matt cam cheering out of the store with Carol on the line! She quickly apologized and offered to come pick us up with her trailer! God bless Matt and God bless Star Mart! Matt let me celebrate with a free coffee.

I was so happy to see Carol pull up. We got to her house, a beautiful 10 acre sprawl up the side of a hill with all sorts of animals and fruit trees. They had a BBQ going and we soon had beer, sausages, steak, squid, salads, and trifle for dessert.

Her friend had brought her violin, which I got to play for a bit. Then Carol pulled out a guitar and sang some Peter, Paul, and Mary tunes. It feels good to fall asleep on her extremely comfortable couch. I am so so glad everything somehow worked out. Merry Christmas indeed.

permalink written by  aeonhunterinnz on December 25, 2009 from Gisborne, New Zealand
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Boxing Day

Gisborne, New Zealand

BOXING DAY / GISBORNE DAY II - I woke up well rested this morning and dug out some leftovers from last night's feast for my breakfast. Shad and I have decided to hang out for a day in Gisborne and Carol has agreed to put us up for another night. This will mean changes in our plans, cutting either the East Coast or New Year's in Maunganui, but the last two days have been horrible and we could use a break. Carol lives with her son Nick (20 years old), her partner Greg, and Greg's daughter Sam (19 years old). They told us so much about the property, I decided to have a look for myself.

The first thing I found was the plum tree. Did I mention plums are one of my favorite fruits ever? The plums on this tree are so so tasty. I ate at least 10 of them. Then I walked down to see the birds. There was a turkey, chickens, rooster, ducks, geese, and even a peacock. From there I wandered into the pig pen where the orange trees were. I asked the orange tree for an orange 3 times, shaking its branches each time. On the third attempt an orange dropped down. It was the most delicious orange I have ever eaten. I then wandered over to have a look at the pigs. The two of them were sleeping under the shade of a metal shelter. As I got closer they woke up and immediately noticed me standing there eating an orange. With grunts and squeals the two huge pigs got to their feet and charged me. It was terrifying, but I held my ground, remembering Carol telling me they were very friendly pigs. When they got to me they started nosing me, grunting. They had bristly multicolored hair and upturned snouts with mouths that were faintly human. They wouldn't settle for a couple of plums. They wanted my orange. "Orange! Orange! Orange! Orange!" I made my way past them to a nearby mandarin tree, which I shook, causing an avalanche of mandarin oranges to fall to the ground. The pigs gobbled them up as fast as they possibly could, sometimes stuffing as many as 3 in their mouth at once. I shook the tree again and made my escape.

In the afternoon Carol and Greg took us for a drive around Gisborne. We stopped at some great lookouts over the town, bay, and countryside. We even stopped at a store in town so I could buy a new front tire. We headed back tot eh house just long enough to pick up Sam and get the boat ready, then were out to the bay to catch our dinner.

Fishing was perfect.

I had a hard time believing my life as we sped across the crystal blue ocean under a bright clear sky. I love couchsurfing! I love New Zealand! Greg spotted a flock of fishing birds and pulled up just short so we could ready our poles for kahawai fishing.
Kahawai fishing is a pretty easy affair: find some birds, attach a medium sized shiny lure with plenty of hooks, troll through the birds.
Within seconds we al had kahawai on the line. They put up a good fight and are pretty fun to catch.
Within minutes we had enough for three dinners and had to leave before we caught too many. Before we did though, Greg taught Shad and I how to bleed and gut a fish. There's a great video of it.
The best part is when you rip out the still beating heart. Thank you fish for your lives so that we might eat.

After that we sped out past Young Nick's Head to try some bottom fishing for snapper. Nobody was catching anything though, and we couldn't figure out why. We couldn't figure it out, that is, until we saw the dolphins. While fish might not like dolphins, humans sure do.

Our boat was surrounded by them and they leapt in the waves beside us. There was even a baby dolphin! It was absolutely magical. Eventually we just gave up fishing and headed home. On the way back in though, there was still a bit of magic waiting for us. We came across Moko, Gisborne's friendliest dolphin. He was huge and old and beautiful to behold.

Back home Greg smoke the kahawai and we rounded out our meal with oysters, pipis (a small New Zealand shellfish), and leftovers from last night. Then after dinner Carol and Nick initiated Shad to New Zealand by teaching him the meaning of a Tim Tam Slam. (I already knew.) All five of us did them while Carol videotaped. There's a video of it out there somewhere. It's so delicious. We have to find a way to recreate this in the states. It has been such an absolutely fantastic day. Thank you Star Mart. Thank you Matt. Thanks Carol and Greg and Sam and Nick. Wonderful.

permalink written by  aeonhunterinnz on December 26, 2009 from Gisborne, New Zealand
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Waioeka Gorge

Wairata, New Zealand

WAIOEKA GORGE (76km, 757km total) - We woke up to another lazy morning of picking fruit and feeding pigs. It's such a wonderful feeling to eat fruit you pick yourself, and Shad and I both swear to have yards with fruit trees if we ever own houses. Carol spoiled us by packing us both huge lunches. It was hard to leave her house on the hill.

Biking today was extremely hot. We decided to forgo the East Coast for the shorter route through the gorge. It pains me a little, since the East Coast is supposed to be THE most beautiful place to bike in all of New Zealand. Alas, next time. Lunch was two huge sandwiches on homemade honey bread: one with ham, half one with homemade salami, half one with avocado and salmon. We also had fresh oranges, fruitcake, and shortbread.

After lunch we were stopped by some cops who were handing out bicycle care packages and then passed a group of Brits who were doing a circuit of the East Cape. We then came to the completely deserted town of Matawai and had to search for a good 20 minutes to find a place we could fill up with water. The road had been gradually but consistently climbing all day, and we were happy for a bit of rest before tackling Traffords Hill, the 725m mountain we would have to cross before dropping down through Waioeka Gorge on the other side.

The hill was steep, but not too bad considering all we've been through. The gorge on the other side was beautiful: beautifully green and beautifully downhill. Our campsite tonight is right in the middle of the gorge, We've got a secluded spot away from the other campers, next to the river and closest to the fantastic swimming hole. Shad and I both went for a refreshing swim before cooking dinner. For dinner we had tuna, carrots, onion, and corn mixed with rice, spices, and avocado on tortillas. Delicious.

My hammock tonight is in one of the best set ups yet. I'm nestled very comfortably in the trees with a slight swaying. I can hear the river nearby and the insects outside. It's comfortable and warm and I am happy.

permalink written by  aeonhunterinnz on December 27, 2009 from Wairata, New Zealand
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Opotiki, New Zealand

Opotiki (46km, 803km total) - Each day I bike I get more and more excited to lay around in California and do nothing. The countryside here is more than beautiful. It's magical.
But it is also unforgiving. There are hills everywhere we go, and when there are no hills there's a hard wind, always sure to blow right in our faces. Even today, which was literally all downhill, I felt like I was riding underwater because of how strong the wind was. Don't get me wrong, I'm having an amazing time, but biking everywhere is hard! I'm weary of roads and hills and wind and cars that pass too close.

That being said, today was an easier day. We started off with another swim before hitting the road.

We didn't go too far and made it to Opotiki by 2:30, despite a later start. We've checked into a nice hostel filled with Germans in the city center. There's not much to see here in Opotiki. We barely missed the big rodeo by a couple hours and everything in town is closed for the holidays. Dinner was takeaways from a nearby fish & chips shop, good but nothing too special. I had a fish burger, a curry roll, side salad, and 2 pineapple fritters for dessert. Shad had two 1/4 burgers and a Paua fritter. It's been a nice relaxing evening and I've finally gotten a chance to catch up with some writing.

The trip from here on out should be easy going - I'm glad.

permalink written by  aeonhunterinnz on December 28, 2009 from Opotiki, New Zealand
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Whakatane, New Zealand

WAHKATANE (56km, 859km total) - It started raining last night and didn't really stop until we reached toady's destination - Whakatane. It was our first day of riding in the rain this entire tirip. Aside form making me extremely sweaty, my rain gear seem to work pretty well. Good.

It was an easy day's ride in spite of the rain. The second half took su through a very pretty area called Cheddar Valley to Ohope Beach where we had lunch. After that we climbed our only real hill of the day before descending into Whakatane. I would say the only really interesting part about Whakatane is how you pronounce the name: fa-ka-ta-ne. It seems nice enough though, and there's a walk down by the river to the beach that I'm going to try to do in the morning.

Shad and I wandered around town for a bit and met an American widower who has come to New Zealand to start a new life. We had a nice chat with him and then went to see Sherlock Holmes at the cinema. I wouldn't recommend wasting your money on it. Now I'm back in the room we've got at the Whakatane Hotel. It's hot and humid here, too hot to sleep well even with the window open. Shad's out at the bars searching for the meaning of love and marriage. Tomorrow we'll hopefully be sleeping on the beach somewhere between here and Mt. Maunganui. At least that will be a little bit cooler. It's so hot!

permalink written by  aeonhunterinnz on December 29, 2009 from Whakatane, New Zealand
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Otamarakau Beach

Otamarakau, New Zealand

OTAMARAKAU BEACH (42km, 901km total) - I woke up this morning in a bare room on the second floor of Whakatane Hotel, surrounded by my gear and my bike.
Tonight I'm laying down to sleep on soft sands with a roof of stars over my head and waves singing me lullabies.
I paid $25 for the ugly room, tonight's accommodations are free. Weird, eh?

We spent a long time in Whakatane this morning.

We packed up and checked out pretty early, but then took our time with break fast and spent a long time at the I-site taking advantage of their free internet. What a luxury free wireless internet is! I got lucky and even got to skype with Carolyn. I don't envy the snow covering the midwest right now, not even a little bit. After doing what we needed to do online, se started the day with a little sightseeing ride down along the river towards the beach. There was a really cool statue of a young girl out on the rocks near the ocean.

There was beautiful weather today and the road was flat. Of course, since the road was flat there was an ungodly amount of wind which, of course, was blowing right in our faces the entire time. It made for very slow and very annoying riding. Just when I would get up a little speed and start feeling good about myself, a fist of wind would hit me and my bike would stop dead in its tracks.

We finally did make it to our destination on the beach. We pulled in just after 4 and spent the rest of the day relaxing in the sand and the sun, busying ourselves with the beach's simple curiosities. Dinner came just before sunset and was a pasta dish with herring, cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, onion, and tomatoes. The herring was a little strong, but it was still pretty good. Tonight I've got my hammock set up on the sand, with my rain fly as a ground cloth. It's kind of a cool treeless variation. I just hope it doesn't rain... it shouldn't.

permalink written by  aeonhunterinnz on December 30, 2009 from Otamarakau, New Zealand
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New Year's Eve / Papamoa Beach

Mount Maunganui, New Zealand

NEW YEAR'S EVE / MT. MAUNGANUI / PAPAMOA BEACH (62km, 963km total) - The moon was bright last night, so bright I had to wrap my blanket over my head to fall asleep. It was comfortable though, sleeping on the sand. The corners of my hammock and ground cloth were pulled up a bit, forming a little bowl that served to protect me from the wind. We got an earlier start this morning, hitting the road by around 9:15am. We deliberately didn't have very far to go, although we weren't sure where exactly we were going to sleep.

Couchsurfing in Mt. Maungaui had fallen through and all the holiday parks and hostels were full up. our only lead was a holiday park in Papamoa that had told us if we turned up they might have a place fur us to sleep. We arrived there plenty early, just before 11:30am, and they did indeed manage to squeeze us in. We got half of a campsite on a glorified dirt patch, but at least it was somewhere. We set up our little camp and had a bit to eat at a place called Turkish to Go and a wander around the park. It was filled to the absolute brim, mostly with families in humongous house tents. I even saw one with a full-size refrigerator!

After lunch we had a choice: we could either ride our bikes down to Mt. Maunganui (where all the New Year's festivities were), or we could wait and ride the $10 bus down. The camp staff had told us Mauao was 20-26km away, but our maps showed us it was more like 6-10km. We didn't like the prospect of riding home 26km after a good night of New Year's Eve festivities, but we also didn't like the idea of waiting around until 9pm so the bus could take us. In the end we decided to ride in. It turned out to be a nice flat road of only about 10km, so it was a good thing we did.

Mt. Maunganui was in full New Year's Eve mode when we got there. There were sops everywhere and the entire CBD was blocked off for pedestrians only. We had a couple drinks at two of the bars downtown before setting off to climb the 232m mountain at the edge of the peninsula which gives the town it's name. The hike up was beautiful, if a bit slick from all the loose gravel. The views from the top showed the whole town reaching down the beach. We could see Tauranga next to it, spreading back into the hills. Then on three sides were stunningly blue water with the odd island breaking up the horizon. It's views like these that make me want to live on the ocean and have a little sailboat to tool around the coast on. Also at the top we ran into this wild looking older man wearing a helmet. He proceeded to tell us all about how the UFO's told him that when the Americans pull out of Iraq the RUssians are going to start an atomic war and everyone except the people in New Zealand were going to die because the Pope is a Nazi . . . or something like that. Shad listened to him for a while then started asking him more probing questions about why he was going around telling people this for the last 25 years. Of course, once the questions came the guy couldn't be bothered and quickly headed off down the mountain. We spend a bit of time then actually enjoying the summit and then headed back down for more festivities. After a long haul down to the bottom we finally found a sign that had a map of the trails. Turns out we walked probably the longest possible combination of routes we could have possible walked! Oh well.

We then went back into town and found some food at one place, a beer at another bar (where Shad was shunned by the waitress for putting Bob Dylan on the jukebox), and another beer at another bar. The last one was an Irish Pub where we engaged in a few games of darts and then taught the bartenders what an Irish Car Bomb is.

We walked back into the festival area then, where they had the roads completely blocked off along the beach, people everywhere, carnival stalls and rides, and two music stages. It sounds great, and it was fairly good. The only problem was that there was no alcohol allowed on the premises except for two cafe/bars down on the far end, where a glass of wine was $10 and a single corona was $9. I sat down and watched the bands on the stage for as long as I could. The cover band was okay... but then they brought out this "musical theater" group (read: paid karaoke singers) who were fairly horrible. AFter listening to them I would have paid anything for a drink, so $9 beers we went.

We met a young group of Kiwis at the cafe who insisted that we bring in the new year with them. But at only 17 & 18 years old, I was keen to find a way to lose them in the crowd. That's exactly what I did with about 10 minutes to go. Shad and I were in the middle of the huge crowd in front of the stage with the countdown as the first seconds of 2010 on Earth ticked away. There were fireworks going out over the water and people everywhere. It was sort of a weird new year's. Good... but also odd.

After midnight Shad and I went off to find some more affordable drinks. Our first attempt was at a Brazilian place where it seemed like all the women were having their own private party. Shad tried again and again to find a woman who would dance with him, but was rejected each time. (I blame the blood encrusted hands.) Our next attempt was a packed Irish bar that we closed down. There Shad at least had luck with conversation, meeting a pair of foreign girls: one French, one Spanish. Eventually we had to part ways and bike back to our campsite where the two of us squeezed into Shad's little tent (no place for a hammock). It's a bit too cozy in here and I'm glad I have my own place to sleep most of the time.

permalink written by  aeonhunterinnz on December 31, 2009 from Mount Maunganui, New Zealand
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