Epic Road Trip NZ – Part 1

The plan was to head to Raglan with Jono and Nick, hang out with them for as long as they wished to stay, and for me to get a much needed job there. Jono would then chauffeur Nick around the rest of the island for the remainder of his vacation, and that would be that. That was the plan, but it wasn’t to be. Instead I ended up travelling for a full month with those two lunatics, and have now ended up back in Auckland, broke, jobless, sunburnt and happy. This is the story of our epic road trip.

RaglanView from the rear of Raglan Backpackers, first stop on our road trip

Road Trip Begins – Auckland

It all started innocently. I met Nick, Jono’s mate from back in Vancouver, at a bar in Auckland. We bonded over beers, Jono leaving us to dander across town to fetch his van. I liked Nick immediately. He was excited about his four week holiday and seemed pretty relaxed, despite having just spent two hours being interviewed at the airport by Immigration Control – the problem? he had booked his (return!) flight recently… I regaled him with a few similar incidents I had experienced at airports, equally ludicrous.

And then we had a chuckle with an intoxicated Kiwi bloke who wanted to buy us a beer in return for our going to the bar for him: we declined. He stumbled through the door (we were seated outside), only to return five minutes later with four beers – a miracle, considering how strict New Zealand law is on serving drunk people.

Handstand?
Me attempting a handstand on the beach. Jono captured it at its best, before I fell on my face

We all went out that night, got pie-eyed drunk, and set off the next morning nursing sore heads. Jono drove, God bless him, and I’ve no idea how he did it. I took at least an hour to pack my bags, head pickled. I still managed to forget my cherished ipod, not to mention my only jogging bottoms (for sleeping, not jogging). Nick sat up front and Stevie and I lay sprawled in the back, Jono having removed the seats months earlier to make room for a bed. This arrangement suited me just fine. I slept.

Raglan

Raglan, which I have written about elsewhere, is pretty chill, to borrow some surfer-speak. It’s small, but picturesque, a haven for surfers who come from all over to enjoy the surf at nearby Ngarunui Beach, sometimes called Ocean Beach, Main Beach or Wainui Beach, for our sins.

We pitched a tent behind the van, beside a public toilet on the bay. There was a sign there prohibiting camping or overnight stays, but since the hostels were full and there was no penalty displayed, we chose to ignore it. We stayed there a couple of nights, wandering around town during the day, drinking beer in the evening, and generally having a jolly old time.

We were eventually told to leave by a large Maori guy who lived across the street. He angrily pointed at the notice, questioning our literacy. He said we had been there four days. I would have questioned his numeracy skills, but like I said, he was big. We moved on.

Ngarunui BeachNgarunui Beach, great for both beginners and experienced surfers

Stevie left us to return to his girlfriend and a construction job in Auckland. We moved into Raglan Backpackers for a few nights and took to the beach for surfing. I had tried surfing before on the Gold Coast, but had a little more success here. Not much though, just managing to stand for a second or two before hurtling all shapes into the ocean. It has occurred to me that chasing waves is much like chasing girls. You wait ages for the right one to come along, tremendous effort is required before you can, shall we say, mount. And then it’s all over very quickly. Incredibly addictive though.

Scott’s Place

We left after a few days to stay at Scott’s Place, a little out of town. Scott’s Place is a farmhouse recently converted into a hostel, surrounded by hilly bush. Although it’s not quite a yoga retreat, there’s something of the ethereal about it. Scott is into meditation and yoga, which is right up Jono’s street, who is by far the most spiritual of the three of us. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a more worldly couple of critters as Nick and me. Jono later tried to teach me meditation, with limited success (more on that at a later date). Nick straight out refused to give it a go, claiming he wouldn’t have the patience.

Dual yogaJono and Linn doing their Dual yoga thing, this time on the beach

And so we stayed there for a few days, relaxing, enjoying the sunshine, countryside, beers, and goon (a potent red wine purchased in cask form). Linn, Jono’s Norwegian girlfriend, visited, and Nick and I sat on the deck in the sunshine drinking as they contorted their bodies around each other. We weren’t witnessing coitus, merely observing a display of what is known as Dual Yoga. I’d never seen anything quite like it.

Later we were in the kitchen reading questions from our discarded beer bottle lids.
“Oh, here’s a good one for you guys”, said I “forty percent of Canadian men say they would prefer to do without sex rather than do without what?”
Jono: “Mmmm. I don’t know, their hair?”
Me: “That’s quite good actually, but no.”
Nick: “Beer!”
Jono: “No!”
Me: “He’s right, it’s beer.”
Jono: “What? How did you get that?”
Nick: “Cos I’m one of them!”
Jono: “Whaaaat? You’re not serious. You can’t f**k a beer, man!”
Nick: “Yeah. But beer f**ks me!”

We left for Taupo the next morning.

To be continued…here