Posts by Country

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Tongariro Crossing

Today I packed and rode to the shuttle for the Tongariro Crossing. During the hike down from Mt Doom (Mount Ngauruhoe) I lost my camera in an avalanche but later found it after climbing halfway back up!

On the way back out I stopped at Soda Springs for a shower and to do my washing a bit.

Back in Turangi I had a drink with some CSers then rode to Vinegar Hill Campground.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Camping in Taupo


Today I met up with some camping friends from last week and later I bought some soda so some Swedish guys (Victor and Robin) and I could make mixed drinks around the campfire.


Today I hit the thermal spas with a couple fellas I met yesterday, Paul (English) and Matt (Welsh). After hiking to Huka falls and swimming in the spas a bit we eventually headed back. Later after playing with the ducks a bit I had drinks with Victor and Robin again around the campfire while listening to music and learning French.


Today I spoke with Paul and Matt about naming my bike. We played with "Trusty Steed" and "The Dream Machine" but, since the bike is a Suzuki, we settled on the name "Suzy."

I then took Suzy to buy a new sleeping bag at the warehouse. We have all been freezing at night lately so it seemed a necessary expense. Fortunately I found a $59 sleeping bag that was marked down to $35! After checking out I went to the library to skype and met a German named Rick who supports a movement called Zeitgeist. It's a very strange movement where nobody has to work and somehow everything is expected to just keep going. I let him try and explain but, alas, it just wasn't for me so we headed back to camp where we both happened to be staying.


This morning I bathed in the river, played some guitar and listened to music a bit with the French campers and a sketchy fella with a swastika on his arm... Later we all had some drinks by the fire and listened to music from my ipod until some annoying drunken teens showed up. One of them was alright but the other one was just stupid. He tried throwing punches at the Toggy and, after that confrontation, continued to spit all over everything around him for the rest of the night...


Today I applied for some ski resort jobs and swam for golf balls out at the Lake Taupo "Hole in One" Challenge. I found 250 balls and made $10... after a couple hours of diving. At least it was something to do and it was kinda fun, at least until I lost feeling in my extremities... Later I ate croissants and BBQ around the fire with the French campers.


Today I woke up, put on my pants and, to the astonishment of a few, dove straight into the river - washing (laundry) done!


Today I dove into the river again before going to the library. Back at camp I watched some of the French guys cooking up some crayfish they caught in the river.

Then some kiwi guys floating the river showed up and gave me a couple drinks as we talked. Finally, I cooked up some pasta while the other French group prepared a trout that they caught earlier that day.


Today I continued the habit of jumping into the river every morning and went to the library to apply for jobs at ski resorts, lodges, etc. Back at camp the Paul and Matt caught a large trout and we all sat around the campfire.


Today I bathed in the river again and went to the library where I applied for a job teaching English in China next year. Back at camp I met a kiwi named Kev who gave me some drinks as we talked and then Brendan and Daniel, the kiwis floating the river the other day, showed up and were arrested for disturbing the peace. Apparently they had been yelling at some tourists up the river and when they arrived Brendan was arrested on national telly. Soon the police returned for Daniel because he refused to leave. Before Daniel left he had me watch his stuff in exchange for a couple drinks in his chilly bin (cooler). Later the French group prepared a couple fish that they caught that day. One was more cooked than the other so we had a bit of variety in the flavour.


Today I dove in the river one last time before packing up and heading to the library. After the library I made my way down to Turangi for camping where I met some more French campers and had a couple drinks.

I went to bed early so I could get up and arrive in time the next morning for the Tongariro Crossing hike with others from Couchsurfing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Back to Taupo

Today I woke up, got ready and hit the road to Hastings. About 130km later I arrived and started sussing out fruit picking work. Unfortunately that doesn't start for a couple weeks so I took a hint from some fellas on the road and stopped in at a local public house for some more info. When I entered I took off my bag and noticed my arm was in serious pain - it seemed I had pulled a muscle. After helping me with some picking info, one of the girls who ran the place for her parents gave me some water and had me sit down in the rest area while they made me some soup and homemade bread - on the house! After downing homemade goodness that brought me back to my childhood, we had a talk about some of the local spots for picking and camping and they sent me on my way. I stopped in at some spots along the way but found that the picking really just wasn't happening yet so I went for the camping area at Cape Kidnappers.

As nice as that spot was it just wasn't suitable for me and my bike so I continued on my way to Taupo as I had originally planned. On the way I took in some of the most beautiful scenery which made me wish I had a helmet camera and, at one point, I pulled off and checked out some really nice waterfalls.

About 160km from Hastings I arrived at the thermal spas in Taupo and soaked for a while. The gates were closing in a half hour but so many cars and people were there that I figured I'd be fine, but soon I realized that everyone had left and made my way up to my bike. Unfortunately I had dropped my glasses so I went back looking but just couldn't find them. I do have a spare pair so it's not so bad. Back at the bike I found that the gates were closed but luckily my bike fit down the pedestrian passage out of the park. Back at the campsite from last week (Reid's Farm) I set up my tent in the same spot and started cooking tea. While I was boiling up the noodles the rain started pouring down and suddenly the tarp let up and a small spout of water poured into my burner, soaking the flint starter.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My Mighty Steed


Today I caught a ride into Palmy with Fiona's neighbor, Austin. I took the road code test for my license about five times (extra $200) but I finally got my license... Why did it take me five times? You can miss three but I always seemed to miss four or five until the last time where I got 100% - I reckon it's rigged. I've spoken to many since and they all laugh until I give them some examples, ie: what do you do at the yellow line? If you said stop, you're wrong! You only stop on the white line... there is no yellow line. Another question is about parking on dashed yellow lines to which you are given two valid answers. The correct answer is that none may pass, but I put that I may not pass because I reckon many of those spots are kept clear for emergency vehicles. The other questions I got wrong were mainly about distances which I mostly knew but, again, found the question to be phrased in a way which prompted me to choose the wrong answer... After walking out with my temporary motorcycle license, and a massive dent in my budget, I visited Cherie at the backpacker hostel to ask about her receiving some mail for me then took a bus to Fielding. When I arrived I bought some beans and walked 2.5 km to the campsite there. After I set up my tent I watched TV till late then tried sleeping in my tent till about 2a... but it got so cold/damp that I had no choice but to sneak back into the lounge and sleep on the couch.


The next morning the manager saw me lying there and, while he seemed a bit perturbed, he left me alone. On the way back to Fielding I took a wrong turn but eventually arrived and bought a helmet and tie downs for the bike. They also gave me a learners plate that they had lying in the display, for free! Mike called me at this time and we talked about the conditions of our agreement as well as the fact that they still hadn't found the key for the bike... Next I went to apply for my tax number then spent the rest of the time hanging out waiting at Maccas. Later Mike's mum called me to say that she was still having trouble finding the key but that she would pick me up at 5p. At about 5:15p she called me to say that she had found the key and was on her way! Ten minutes later we were on our way to pickup the bike. We pulled it out of the shed and I took a minute getting oriented with the bike. At first it wouldn't start but then I remembered riding dirt bikes and how we sometimes had to pull the choke to start them up. Sure enough I was on my way and 50km later I arrived in Woodville to sort out my stuff at Fiona's. After I somehow managed to pack everything I needed into one bag I went down the road and camped for the night.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Farm Day

Turns out the "Lahar drill" last night was just the fire brigade - we're right down the street from them. Today I went with Ashley to the shearing sheds and saw sheep being sheared.

After we returned I went with Fiona to see the cows being milked which was interesting but at the end it was a bit crappy... back at the house I cleaned all the poo off me and then we had a roast for tea.

Finally, I spent some time on the internet studying for the road code test tomorrow.

Saturday, January 12, 2013



Today I talked to the people at AA about getting my license. I just need to take a motorcycle course then I have to get an address to use to get a bank account and with all of that I can finally take the test and get my learners license. After running to the store for a new camping stove I grabbed my stuff and headed to the main road to hitchhike to Woodville. After waiting a while I wandered a bit down to the Caltex where I talked a dude and his girlfriend into taking me to Woodville. We passed through a gorge and soon I was setting up camp at the $5 campground.

Later I went to the shops and met a guy named Carl. He wanted to hang out later but then I met a local named Fiona who took me in at her place. I was just planning to borrow some cardboard for a hitching sign but ended up with full accommodation including bed, internet, shower and even laundry.


Today Fiona gave me a ride to Palmy so I could set up my bank account then we stopped at the wind mill lookout on the way back.

Back at the house I used the internet a bit and we had a BBQ.


Yesterday was easy and in the evening we had another BBQ. Today I took my motorcycle handling course and passed... just barely. It took me a bit to learn some of the finer details such as keeping my arms straight and not pulling the clutch while braking. After the course we headed back and visited another one of Fiona's neighbors, Ashley. While we were visiting Ashley invited me to go to the shearing sheds tomorrow and see how it's all done. Later at night I heard a strangely familiar siren go off, same as the lahar drills back home in Puyallup... but it soon deactivated so I figured it was just a false alarm or something.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Palmerston North


Today I checked out of my room then waited for French CSers Camille and Guillaume to pick me up for our ride-share South. Later in the afternoon, after they sorted out fines and other pre-trip things, we were off. Our first stop was Warehouse Extra where I bought a camping stove and other gear. We then drove to Taupo where we found a beautiful spot on the river called Reid's Farm where we camped out for the night. That night I caught a prawn aka crayfish while washing my dishes in the river.


Today after brekky we packed up and went to the thermal spas. It was an amazing place with boiling hot water meeting the cold water of the river. After hanging out in the super hot water of the springs for a while I did a "polar plunge" into the river. After the spas we hiked to Huka Falls then went to Countdown (Woolworths) for food. We then took our food and ate at a bench overlooking Lake Taupo.

Finally, we drove to Palmerston North where I stayed at the Peppertree Hostel while the others continued on to Wellington. Upon arrival at the hostel I was happy to find that it was the kind of hostel that takes people well into the night. Although, if I had arrived yesterday I wouldn't have been so lucky due to the large group of American backpackers that had checked in then.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


This morning I moved to Base hostel where my new friend from last night (Alex) had been. Its $20 so I save $5 which I can use for the unlimited high speed internet here. At 9:30 am I took the bus to the Auckland church meeting. After we all ate I went site seeing with Ben and Gino. First, they took me to Mission Bay where we had Kiwiyo aka Froyo aka frozen yogurt.

Next we went to One Tree Hill for a view over the city before having tea at Gino's.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Kia Ora Aotearoa!


This morning Robbie and I were up at 5:30 am. At the airport I had heaps of time so I grabbed some goodies for the flight and a burger then watched a time travel movie on my laptop. Time on my computer was an hour behind Melbourne though so I arrived just in time for my flight thinking I was an hour early. After arriving in Auckland, New Zealand I took the airbus to the hostel and dropped off my stuff. No sooner did I leave my room before a guy came up to me and had me sign up for a $5 pub crawl. I was tired but for four free drinks this was too good to pass up! That night I met heaps of Americans as well as the usual French, German, etc. It's probably safe to say that I met more Americans in one night here than I did in my whole year in Australia. One of the guys, Johnathan from LA, suggested that this might be due to the smaller sample size in New Zealand. Hard to say.


Today I bought a SIM card for my phone and did some planning.


Today I went to the library for Skype then tried using the WiFi at Maccas to finish some things but found myself out of free internet options. Later I went to meet a friend of a friend for a drink. We ended up hanging out at the hostel watching a Star Wars marathon.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Today the Aussie dollar sky-rocketed which means I missed out on about $100 in increased value... oh well. After brekky we left to see the Grampians - the start of the Great Dividing Range. When we arrived in the town near the mountain we had some chips then drove the rest of the way to the "trail head" - a road closed to traffic.

After hiking to the top and back we went to Halls Pass to see the Venus Pools but, unfortunately, they were closed so we just checked out the local roos and emus. On the way back we grabbed tea and stopped in historic Ballarat where Robbie went to primary school.

Back at the house I at the last steak from the night before then got ready to fly out in the morning.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Back for the Future


Today I sorted out my stuff, checked out of the hostel and spent the day at the bike shed. Halfway through a movie I realized I needed to get moving so I called a taxi and rushed to the airport. Upon landing back in Melbourne the pilot slammed on the brakes in a very jarring fashion and commented over the intercom, "...good brakes."

I barely caught the skybus as it was leaving then, after arriving at Southern Cross Station, I only just caught the train to Geelong as it was leaving. Also nice is that, as it turns out, its free at night! Unfortunately I still only caught the very end of the fireworks as I arrived in Geelong. Then Robbie came with his girlfriend Julie and they picked me up in the Dingodyne. We went to Julie's place in Leopold and rang in the New Year with some meat pies and a couple drinks.

This morning I had some Vegemite on toast and another meat pie for brekky then Robbie took me on a cruise in his Caddy. We met up with Rod, had a couple drinks and went back for Julie who was just getting off work. Then we all went to Queenscliff(e) and on the way back we grabbed some steaks, marinade and curly fries. After sitting down for tea we watched a few movies and I sent $3933 back to the states ($4020 USD).