24.11.2011 - 10.12.2011 15 °C
Since arriving in New Zealand
I spent my first ten days in the centre of Auckland and to tell the truth I was wanting to get out after just four or five days. The first few days I spent exploring the city like a tourist who was on holiday for just a few days, spending money here there and everywhere, from eating out everynight to seeing the tourist attractions such as the Sky Tower. I quickly realised that I’m not on ‘holiday’ and can’t carry on spending money willy-nilly. So, I visited the supermarket, Countdown, with Johan (the Dane), he actually said it was the biggest supermarket he’s ever been in. It was not even as big as the Somerfield, now Co-Op, in Ryde. In fact, I’m now in Orewa and the LonelyPlanet guidebook for NZ says that the supermarket (New World) here is a large branch, that too is barely the size of Somerfield. For those of you who don’t know the size of Somerfield in Ryde, let’s just say it’s a small supermarket. Anyway, I bought noodles at Countdown and cooked them up in the evenings for the next five nights, I got a little bored of them at the end to be honest.
I’ve done quite a bit of walking thus far, and I’ve worn a hole in my Toms, so I had a look on their website for a store that sells them, in New Zealand there is one. I had some free time when I was down in Auckland one day so I walked out to Newmarket and found where their site said the store was. I got there, probably wore them down even more by walking there, to find that it was in fact now a bar and there were no Toms in sight. Which in truth is a good thing as I shouldn’t be spending money on shoes, so it looks like I’ll just have to put up with the holes.
Back in Auckland I also joined a programme called WWOOF - Worldwide Work on Organic Farms. It’s a pretty good idea and seems a good way of travelling around whilst meeting and staying with local families, and therefore seeing more of ‘the real’ New Zealand. It cost $50 to become affiliated with the programme, however the small price pays for itself quickly. The general idea of the programme is to learn about organic farming by staying with families who run anything from a large farm with livestock to a retired couple needing help with their vegetable patch. You work for 4-6 hours a day and in return get all your meals and accommodation for free, so it works out quite well for both the host and myself.
I left central Auckland last Monday to head west to a small village called Kumeu – this was my first WWOOF placement. The first day it was raining so I was tasked with cleaning the outside woodwork of the house, that was boring. However, from Tuesday to Friday the sun was out and I did general gardening tasks from weeding to digging holes and planting trees, slightly more interesting but the weeding part was tedious to say the least. I planted two trees on the Tuesday and every day I visited them to make sure they were still standing, they survived the week and I was pleased with that. The hosts were nice too – Richard and Dayle. After I reread the names I was a little curious as to whether it was a gay couple or a man and his wife who has a name more suited to a man. Dayle was indeed a woman. I stayed in my own cottage with a French 21y/o guy who was also WWOOFing there, his English was poor (but still a lot better than my French so in that respect it was quite good) so when I spoke it was loud and clear, how else do you talk to foreigners? He was quite nice though, and he didn’t seem to mind weeding, so I got to dig some more. Overall it was quite a good first WWOOF experience, bit too much weeding for my liking though, but a good insight nonetheless.
I’m currently in North Auckland in a small town called Orewa, which I keep misspelling, Owera, it sounds the same whichever way you spell it though. Getting infuriated with WiFi at McDonalds this morning I thought I’d explore a bit more so I walked to the town centre, which seems to be a bit of a car park, a supermarket, some miscellaneous shops selling things you can probably buy in the supermarket, several bakeries and this library which I’m now sat in, where the free WiFi is also a lot better than McDonalds, and not limited either.
I’m in Orewa because I’m meeting my next WWOOFer host here later and they live just a bit more north in Waiwera, by a river (they have kayaks which I can use) so I’ll hopefully be spending a lot of time on the river.
I’ll try and post a bit more from now on as I’m out of the city and doing more things. I had actually written a post to upload last week but that was when I got to Kumeu and then found I had no internet, so now I have internet it’s out of date so I summarised it and wrote this one.
A few things I’ve learnt about New Zealand before I go: they love Ford Falcons, they like to beep their horns (not nearly as much as say, New York, but a lot more than England) and their give way system is annoying. If you’re turning left and an oncoming vehicle is turning in that way too you have to give way to them, will take a little getting used to when I get on the roads, but I’ll just have to be extra careful not to shunt anyone in the side.