A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: mattcox3

A Fortunate Chain of Events

I wasn’t prepared to leave my job in Hahei, even if hours were drying up considerably, if I didn’t have anything else to go to, so this a short story about how meeting a few new people can lead to good things, in this case – employment.

Just last week I was sat outside hooked up to the Wi-Fi of house at which I’m staying. I opened up Twitter and I was greeted by a Foursquare check in at Hot Water Beach – a short ten-minute drive around the corner.

It was a fellow* travel blogger – Melissa.

  • I use the term fellow loosely here as writing a few updates doesn’t make me a travel blogger.

I wrote a short reply and not long after she replied saying she was staying at the campground just down the road with a friend.

Under the name of ‘The Mellyboo Project’ Melissa writes about her travels across the world.

The next morning as I arrived at work I noticed all three girls on shift were sat outside in the sun, not uncommon as of late. Before I knew it I was making the three-minute stroll back to the garage. Told to come back in a few hours I sat inside in the lounge and watched some of the football highlights. After sitting down for just a few minutes I received a tweet from Melissa to tell me she was at my work and told me to get down there.

So here I am, at my work, having a coffee with someone I met on Twitter. It’s not the first time either; step in Ryan Brown of Just Chuckin’ It back in Auckland not long after we’d arrived in New Zealand.

After the standard traveller introduction questions had passed we settled into conversation comfortably. They spoke of their plans to go to Hot Water Beach (again – yes it’s that good) and as the one time I’d been before I hadn’t been able to get a spot I was eager to dig my own spa pool this time!

An hour passed quickly and it was time to get my apron on, clean down the table we’ve been sat at and start serving customers.

We had arranged a time for them to pick me up to venture down to Hot Water Beach and we went our separate ways during the day with their walk to Cathedral Cove slightly more appealing than a day at work.

Pulling into the car park at HWB Steph swung the car door open and leapt out the car as if there was a deadly snake in the footwell. Luckily, no snakes in this car. It was a friend she had previously met whilst travelling called Jacob. He was with a friend he had met - Lukas and his slightly worse for wear Hyundai Lantra station wagon, which was also full to the brim in true backpacker style.

After a few hours of lounging in our hot pools we sauntered back to the cars totally relaxed.

On the way back Steph, Melissa and I were wondering where the two Germans were going to stay tonight, they’d be content with freedom camping (pitching up anywhere they wanted) so far, but in Hahei there wouldn’t any places suitable. Remembering that the garage can sleep four, I suggested they could sleep in the bunkbed.

When we parked in Hahei I passed the suggestion onto Jacob and Lukas – Lukas’ face lit up at the prospect of a warm dry bed to sleep in. So that was that and they grabbed their stuff for the night and laid it in the garage. Later that night we had a few beers and chilled at the beach. Lukas, Jacob and I also decided on going to HWB for sunrise, normally I may balk at the thought of a 6.30am wakeup but in the two months I spent in Hahei almost every single morning Malcolm and I would go for an early morning swim – a great way to start the day, especially if a little hungover!

Hot Water Beach at sunrise. A lovely sight and definitely worth the early wake up call.

Having spent the evening and morning with Lukas and Jacob we all got to know a bit about each other, where we’d been in New Zealand and what we were doing next. Now the two guys already had their next month planned out; a trip to Tonga to do some WWOOFing and on their return to NZ they would be working at a vineyard in the south of the north island. I mentioned how I was looking for some new work and they told me about their job and gave me the contact number of their contractor. I called up a day or two later and hey hey what do you know, I was told to come down with Lukas and Jacob.

I finished writing this piece last week before it was confirmed that I would have work at the vineyard as I didn’t want to write about how I got a job and then find out that I didn’t have a job. But I DO have another job and now here I am at the house where I will be staying with eight others, it’s a little tight, yes but it should be fun.

After a short three day road trip down from Auckland consisting of camping near Huka Falls in Taupo, climbing Mt. Taranaki and then driving to Martinborough we arrived late on Monday night and did our first day of work on the vineyards on Tuesday, a nice eight hours to ease us in. The work is very simple – cut bunches of grapes off the plant and put them in a basket. It’s simple, easy work and should earn me a bit of money to play around with on (and possibly buy a car for) the south island.

Posted by mattcox3 15:14 Archived in New Zealand Tagged beach sunrise new_zealand hahei Comments (1)

Since arriving in New Zealand

overcast 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.

Posted by mattcox3 17:35 Archived in New Zealand Tagged auckland new_zealand kumeu owera Comments (0)

The Journey

Just an insight into my two day journey spanning several time zones

semi-overcast 18 °C

The journey
My mother doesn’t like to be late, so to make sure I would arrive in time for my flight from Heathrow she booked me on the 14:00 coach from Portsmouth which arrived at terminal three at 17:00, leaving me five hours to burn before my flight took off.

The coach wasn’t overly bad; it was just like a coach really, strange that. Midway through the journey, the seat next to me was occupied by a woman who kept dropping her paperwork. The first two times it was mildly amusing and I helped her pick up the paper, as you do, but then by the fifth time it was a bit tedious. I mean, you would have learnt from your mistakes by then, wouldn’t you? But no, each time she dropped them she would put them back in the same spot, dangerously overhanging. Our time together was short lived though, as she got off at terminal four, I only hope she took better care of her paperwork on the plane… probably not. I did quite like her shoes though.

After the coach journey was a five hour wait at the airport. I’d eagerly checked in online in the early hours of Tuesday, so all was to do was to quickly drop off my rucksack at the check in desk. After checking in and passing through security I had about four hours left in the departures lounge. The first two hours went fairly quickly as I had a walk around and grabbed some food, but waiting for the gate number to appear seemed to last forever.

After boarding the airplane I found my seat, I’d picked an aisle seat as I’d feel trapped if I was on an inside seat or window seat. The seat to my right was empty which was nice as I could stretch my legs into their footwell, although on my right sat by the window was a rude African woman. Not rude as in she thought she was above people in economy or anything, but rude because she had no manners and asked for every possible thing. She was strange; she even had to ask me which socket you put the headphones in. The first time the drinks trolley came through I think she asked for two drinks then as it passed she called it back and ordered three more drinks, including two Bailey’s. After she’d drunk these she started singing and dancing, at this time I was glad I’d spent the best part of £200 on headphones – they blocked her, and the droning engine out completely. This flight to Dubai took six and a half hours, of which I managed to sleep, after trying to for over three hours, for ten minutes then was woken up by a nudge on the knee from the breakfast trolley.

The next flight, from Dubai to Melbourne, took around thirteen and a half hours. Again, I’d chosen an aisle seat and again the seat next to me was empty so I could spread across to that. Although this time I was sat next to a nice Indian chap heading to Melbourne. As for my sleep count on this plane I managed to rack up two hours. The seats with Emirates are quite narrow so I found it hard to sleep and kept waking up due to my pillow falling down and my head then banging into this tiny piece of plastic, which the pillow was cushioning.

The final plane of the journey was the same plane as Dubai-Melbourne but we had to leave for a new cabin crew to take over and for the previous crew to refresh the plane for the next step in the journey. Annoyingly we had to make our way to gate 118 which was opposite to the gate we arrived that, and so a large loop around the airport and through security bag checks ensued. Fortunately this plane onwards to Auckland only took three and a bit hours, I managed to sleep for two hours and before I knew it we were being told to fasten our seatbelts in preparation for landing. This plane was a bit busier than the previous two and unfortunately I didn’t have the luxury of a spare seat next to me again, an elderly couple filled the gap between the window and myself. We touched down in Auckland just before 1400 local time, it wasn’t the smoothest of landings but it was a successful landing so I’ll take that.

Overall despite getting barely any sleep across my journey, flying with Emirates was a good experience. They have a really good in flight entertainment system, the best I’ve used before and it has actually won an award for it for the past three years, or something along those lines. The food was pretty good too, ranging from a smoked salmon salad for my starter to chicken breast in a sauce with vegetables.

After customs and waiting for my baggage (I was a little worried that some guy opposite me on the plane wearing the same bag had taken mine by mistake) I got to my hostel in Auckland around 15:30, local time. It’s located Queen St, after arriving and showering at the hostel I went out for an hour or two walking the length of Queen St, then around the harbour and then back up Queen St and outside the Sky Tower. Queen St has shops ranging from Louis Vuitton and Gucci to little souvenir shops just a few doors down, so it has a broad range.

I wrote this in my hostel room, which I quite like as it reminds me of New York, well not the room, just the view down on the busy streets below.
In my room we have Felix the German, Felix’s friend who I haven’t met yet, Johan the Dane, Matt the Uruguayan and some other guy I haven’t met yet either.

Now just to find some (free) Wi-Fi to upload this piece…

(I would have added a picture or two but this wi-fi took five minutes to load up twitter so I'll pass on uploading a photo for now.)

Posted by mattcox3 20:16 Archived in New Zealand Tagged planes auckland airports journey Comments (0)

The waiting game

Sell sell sell!

Today I did my last shift at a local town centre restaurant. I'd been there for two and a half years, it was the first job I had and as happy as I was to leave for a new start, I was quite sad to leave; I will miss it there. I've met some great friends and have had some good memories there. It still feels strange knowing that the next time I go there I won't be working but instead collecting my final pay packet and my reference.
However, with working time now over, I'll have to make money in other ways...

This time last week my room was similar to that of a stereotypical young male’s bedroom: a TV, PS3 and stereo battling for space on my desk amongst general items scattered around the room. Sitting here, writing this, all that remains on my desk cluttered with various paperwork and random objects. To say my new look bedroom is rather boring is an understatement… I don’t even have a chair now!
I can deal with the rest, just about, but not having my chair is the worst part. The chair wasn’t just a comfortable chair but it was almost an escape from the world (clichéd, I know) – I could sit on the chair at my desk for hours with music flowing through the stereo and lose myself within the music (how many clichés can I fit in a sentence?).
As it is, I am now without a chair so I have three options here, I can sit on my bed and get backache from leaning against the wall, or, sit on the floor, or, of course, there is the living room. Sometimes I forget that my house has more to it than my bedroom, the bathroom and the kitchen, I'm sure my presence in the lounge will be welcomed by the parents, and the dog.

I’ve been selling (well, attempting to) countless amounts of items that I’ve found in my bedroom and around the house, ranging from items that have been ignored for years to my favourites that were, the past tense here upsets me, used everyday. Such is my selling eye that mid-way through the previous sentence I suddenly remembered I have a hairdryer, I asked my mum how much I could fetch for it, she let me down jokingly, with a tiresome tone to her voice. By now my parents are fairly tired of hearing of my sales, they’re just worried I might sell the dog! I could never do that!

In other news, only about an hour ago, I opened my first Christmas present. This is when it struck me that I will actually be away from my family at the most family orientated part of the year. It will be a strange, but also maturing, experience, made slightly more homely with a certain five-lettered computer programme… Skype.

Today also marks the final countdown before my trip, we're now into single figures and it's still not quite struck me that in less than two weeks I'll be departing for New Zealand for anywhere up to nine months!

Posted by mattcox3 14:43 Tagged auckland new_zealand planning work_abroad quit_work Comments (0)


I suppose I should introduce myself first.

My name is Matthew. I am an 18 year old from the Isle of Wight on the south coast of England. I finished my A-levels in the summer and now I'm taking a gap year before university next september.

As I've already said, I've never had a blog let alone a travel blog, so I'll try not to bore you too much.

To summarise my plans for my gap year, I have been granted a working holiday visa for New Zealand and I fly out there on November 22. The rest is unwritten.


Posted by mattcox3 09:07 Comments (0)

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