Intro Picture

Intro Picture
Hi! My name is Anne. Welcome to my traveling blog! Read the latest stories below or check out the list of previous stories in the blog archive on the right!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Of meeting new friends and the reaching of the North

It has been a long time since the last post, nearly 7 weeks now I think. And there has been a good reason for it. Last time I wrote the goal was for me to reach Cape Reinga, and it took me slightly over 6 weeks to get there. But let's start at the beginning...

When I left the hostel in Kaitaia I first spent some time lounging in the library to check some stuff on the internet. After that I had to cover quite a bit of a distance on foot to reach the end of the town, as the library lies on the opposite end of Kaitaia.
I found a reasonably good spot near the Pak'nSave, and there I put down my pack and stuck out my thumb.
As has been customary for New Zealand so far I didn't have to wait long for a ride to show up. A man named Ian pulled over and offered to drive me to Awanui, where he dropped me off at the Ancient Kauri Kingdom, a place where they make sculptures out of old Kauri tree logs. Kauri trees are a native tree from New Zealand that can grow up to 50 meters in height, and are big enough the rival the Sequoia trees from California. Naturally the base of the trees can be absolutely massive in circumference. The Ancient Kauri Kingdom aptly showed that off by carving out a staircase inside one of the Kauri logs and using it to guide people upstairs to the second floor of their building.
Ian told me he often offered hitchhikers a place to stay but had a too busy weekend ahead of him to be a good host. That was fine with me, as I wanted to continue north anyway, but it was nice to get such an offer. Instead Ian gave me a can of cola and bourbon before he said goodbye and drove off to home.
After I had wandered around the Ancient Kauri Kingdom for a while and checked out some of the cool sculptures and their massive tree staircase I once again picked up my pack and moved down the road to find a spot with enough room for cars to pull over, about a 100 meters further up the road.

Outside the Ancient Kauri Kingdom

The entrance to the staircase

The top of the staircase

A look at the workshop through a window

As you can see they also made smaller works of art

I spent about 20 minutes there I think before another car pulled over. The fateful car that would lead to new friendships and a 6-week delay to reaching Cape Reinga. In the car were Mark and Sally, and though I didn't know it yet, over the next few weeks they would become my friends.
If I remember correctly they were going to take me to Houhora, but before we got there we had a quick stop at Houhora Heads to have a look at the great view down there. There's a campground or something like that down there, lying next to a river flowing out to the ocean, and a big mountain opposite of it. When we left there they told me I wouldn't be able to make it to Cape Reinga anymore that day, as it was already getting quite late in the day and the sun would be setting pretty soon. They offered me a place to stay for the night, and I accepted it.
When we got to their place I got to meet their dog Ivy, of who I was told she didn't quite get along with everybody. I have a bit of a natural affinity for dogs though, and I know how to behave and introduce myself to most of them, and so it was with Ivy too. I kneeled down and let her come to me and sniff my hand, and soon enough I was accepted, to the great enjoyment of Mark and Sally.
I also got to meet their three cats, as well as their two horses and their 51 ducks when we walked down the property to feed them. It was immediately clear they loved their animals, and I learned that both of them had done work for the SPCA. We sat outside the rest of the night talking and drinking cans of cola and bourbon as the base for a new friendship was established.

Outside the house

Another look at the house from afar

The next morning day I kind of hung around with them without any established plans of getting me out of there, and I met the owner of the property and some of the other people who lived there in caravans I met along the way of my stay there. And I also learned that they were expecting a couple to arrive and do some WWOOF'ing that first day. For those of you who don't know what that is, WWOOF stands for Willing Workers On Organic Farms, and it is a website that allows people to arrange a place to stay and eat for free in exchange for a few hours of work each day after which the helpers are free to do what they wish with the rest of their day.
A girl called Naomi arrived first, and her boyfriend Bruno arrived several days later. He wanted to do some more camping up near Cape Reinga. She was from the United States, but Bruno is from Belgium. They had met during his trip to the States, and while he had to move back to Belgium for a little while and she traveled to New Zealand ahead of him, they met back up here and traveled together for several months.
As they started their WWOOF'ing work I wanted to help out too, to repay some of the kindness Mark and Sally had showed me, and that's how I ended up working there the same as Naomi and Bruno were. It's funny because I had already been looking into WWOOF'ing myself but couldn't sign up for it without a creditcard (it costs 40 dollars to sign up, and 25 dollars yearly to renew your membership), and simply by hitchhiking I ended up doing it anyway.
I wasn't a WWOOF'er officially, and Mark and Sally told me I only had to do as much as I wanted to do, but I helped out everywhere I could. I don't like sitting on my ass while others do all the work.
In the two weeks they were there we did all kinds of jobs: we planted flax, dug up the soil of the vegetable garden, reinforced the fencing around it to protect against the roaming ducks who like a bit of vegetables too, cut down trees from among the bamboo groves and removed fallen bamboo stalks, cleaned the duck pen, removed trash from the property and took down an old chicken coop, among other things I'm currently forgetting. We even did some impromptu firefighting...

What happened was there was this hill on the property that the land-owner wanted cleared for the planting of flax. In order to do that, there was quite a bit of wood that needed to be burned first, and the official in charge had signed off for it that day, despite the day being quite dry and windy.
The fire was started, and all was ok for a while. We were sitting down by the house when one of the other property residents came running over shouting that the fire had jumped the dirt road and was spreading. We rushed to get some blankets and wetted them down so we could throw them over some of the fires without them catching fire too, and we rushed over some buckets as well.
There was a digging machine at work too that quickly started digging a fire trench to stop it from spreading any further. And so we set to work. We got buckets full of water out of a nearby pond and rushed around putting out fires and preemptively wetting down other places.
After some time of this the fire was being controlled and was slowly dying out. We kept an eye on it for the rest of the day, but no other incidents occurred.

Part of the intended fire

The digger at work digging a fire trench.

The other side of the road. As you can see the fire was spreading through the bamboo. It burned along the bamboo groves at a really fast pace.

Eventually a firetruck showed up, and it stayed there for quite a few days.

Me sitting in the fire truck. One of the days the truck was there Bruno and me walked back from a job we were doing when I noticed a small bird had gotten stuck in the cabin. How it got there we didn't know as all the doors and windows were closed. We opened the doors so it could get out, but it kept bumping into the windows in the back of the cabin. So Bruno climbed in through in between the seats and managed to gently catch it. He handed it back to me because I was standing in the doorway, and after I took it I stepped outside and released the bird. Feel-good moment of the day!

One of the coolest things to happen while we were all there was the occurrence of a blood moon.
The night sky was perfectly clear with not a cloud in sight, and because the area we were in is some distance from any town there was no light pollution to keep the stars from sight. There were thousands of them, and in the middle of all that the moon, over which the Earth's shadow was slowly sliding and turning it red. We had a big bonfire to keep us warm as we watched this rare phenomenon, and at that moment I decided I was going to sleep out under the stars that night. I didn't end up doing it because I had the good idea of checking the weather report when I got back to the house to get my gear. I didn't like the odds of a 100% chance of rain in the early early morning, and so with a bit of disappointment I slept inside. I tried taking pictures but unfortunately the camera is no good at night and you really can't see anything.

Another time Mark and Sally took us out to a beach to look for seafood and cool shells on the shore.
The weather wasn't good and we got quite soaked as Naomi, Bruno and me sat on the back of the pick-up truck with Ivy, and I was chilled to the bone by the time we made it back to the house with buckets full of seafood and shells for the garden. That night we sat inside around  a fire stove with hot tea, and I was glad we went out after all. It was a good night.

While we planted flax I also made friends with Lenny, the son of Paul, who owned the property.
A shared interest and love of videogames goes a long way, and soon we were making jokes and fucking around with eachother. We also spent an evening shooting a pellet gun with Bruno, and that was quite fun. I still have a pretty good aim, I found.

Bruno shooting.

Lenny shooting.

Me shooting.

After two weeks Naomi and Bruno moved on. They were bound for Australia, which is where they are now. By that time the work also kind of dried up, but Mark, Sally and me got along really well and I kept hanging around having a good time with them.
I kept helping where I could, and one day Mark took me out to show me where he fished (he is a commercial fisherman). We set out a net which he was going to get back the following day, so it was a pretty short trip, but a nice one. I took some nice pictures of that outing too.

Mark steering the boat

The clouds were playing tricks on the water. It looked awesome, and almost as if photoshopped.

On this picture we're setting out the net. Mark has his game face on :)

On the way back we went through some cool looking groves.

By this time I also learned more about their relationship with Paul, which was deteriorating. They wanted to move to another place in the space of a week or two, and I decided to stick around to help them with moving. This was a pretty uneventful period of relaxation and hanging out.
At one point one of Mark's old friends stayed for a few days, and he was a really cool guy who got along with Ivy even quicker than I did.

Scruff, Mark and me in a picture Sally called 'the three bearded gentlemen' :-)

One day I joined Mark and Sally on a trip back to Ahipara, where the local school was holding a gala.
Sally works for Ahipara Horse Treks, and they were there to offer children a ride around on horseback. I arrived there a little later after a detour to Kaitaia with Mark, and I was just in time to catch a performance of a local group of children singing songs and performing the haka, which I captured on camera with my iPod. It was really cool to see, and I wish we had something like the haka back home. We do lame school-plays instead... give me the war dance any day haha.

Song #1

Song #2

The Haka

The last song

In my time here I also learned to drive New Zealand style, which is on the left side of the road instead of on the right side like in Europe. The cars are also different in that the driver now sits on the right side instead of the left, and so my first instinct when I was shifting gears was to grab the door to my right instead of the stick shift to my left, but I got a hang of it and I drove Sally's car during the second day of moving.

On the last sunday there I went online on Skype for the weekly call home, and was nicely surprised when I saw my grandmother and uncle and aunt sitting there with my mom and dad. My sister joined in a bit later (sleepyhead!).
It was cool to see them again after the slightly over two months that I've now been in New Zealand, and I could tell it was especially doing my grandmother a lot of good to see me again.
I took a quick screenshot before we said goodbye and hung up :-).

After the six weeks spent with Mark and Sally it was time to move on though. They were moved to a new place, and it was a fitting moment for me to move too.
In the time I spent there I became well acquainted with everybody living on the property, and the people there told me I had become a bit like family because I fit in really well. I also got along really well with a wonderful little three-year old boy called Ray, who took advantage of every opportunity to hang around and play with me. And here I thought I lost my charm with little children haha.
After we moved the last of Mark and Sally's stuff I got a ride back up to Houhora with Maya, Ray's mother. I camped outside of her caravan for the night because it was already dark by the time we got back. The next morning she drove me up to the store in Houhora, where she dropped me off to resume my journey.

In closing this chapter of my story I want to take this opportunity to thank Mark and Sally.
As I wrote in the guest-book, I loved staying with you. You always made me feel welcome and included in every conversation, and for that I will always consider you my friends. Thank you for your kind hearts. Meeting people like you is why I fell in love with hitchhiking.

After I said goodbye to Maya and Ray that morning at the store I almost immediately got offered a ride who could only take me a few kilometers to some spot in the middle of nowhere. I thanked him but declined, waiting for a longer ride. I got one about 15 minutes later from Jayson, who happened to go all the way to Cape Reinga on a fishing trip, and with that was the only ride of the day.
We had a pleasant conversation in which I did most of the talking, mostly about where I was from and the Frisian stories and legends like Koning Radboud and Grutte Pier, which he found interesting.
When we eventually made it to the cape Jayson had a look around from the parking lot but didn't feel like walking down to the lighthouse which I found a bit confusing as he had never been up there before, but he offered to wait for me as I had a look around. I thought he was trustworthy so I let my pack stay in his car as I went off for the walk down the Cape, which is about a 5-minute walk from the parking lot. I spent some time looking around and taking pictures, and having seen what I wanted to see I walked back to the parking lot.

The view from near the parking lot.

The lighthouse of Cape Reinga

The coolest thing about Cape Reinga in my opinion is that it's the meeting point of two oceans.
You've got the Tasman Sea to west and the Pacific Ocean to the east. The whirlpool you can see in the picture above is where the oceans meet. The waves are moving towards eachother, creating the whirlpool. The Maori refer to this place as the meeting of Te Moana-a-Rehua, 'the sea of Rehua' with Te Tai-o-Whitirea, 'the sea of Whitirea', Rehua and Whitirea being a male and a female respectively.
They represent the coming together of male and female, and thus the creation of life.

Me at the cape

There is more Maori mythology associated with Cape Reinga. 
According to this mythology the spirits of the dead travel to Cape Reinga on their journey to the afterlife to leap off the headland and climb the roots of the 800-year old pohutukawa tree and descend to the underworld to return to their traditional homeland of Hawaiki, using Te Ara Wairua, 'the Spirit's Pathway'. At Cape Reinga they depart the mainland. They turn briefly at the Three Kings Islands for one last look back towards the land, and then continue on their journey.

Jayson thought it was too windy to fish on the west coast, and so he decided to go to Spirits Bay on the east coast of the island. He offered to take me along to the camping grounds there, which sounded like a good idea. It took a bit of a drive off-roads to get there, and when we got there, not a single soul was in sight. Jayson got his fishing gear together and walked off to the beach to find a good spot, and after looking around the camping grounds for a while I went for a walk to the beach in the opposite direction to have a swim. I decided not to wear my boots, which was a bad decision. By the time I got back to the camping grounds my feet hurt like hell, being slightly chafed open and raw. It was not the greatest beach for walking on.

When I got back I did some reading before deciding to make dinner, which consisted of the traditional two packs of noodles. Unfortunately my lighter didn't work anymore. Two new cars had shown up though, and I walked over to them to borrow a match. After I returned the pack of matches I invited the new people to the picknick table I was sitting at. There wasn't any other one around and they were making food too, so I figured they could use a place to sit to eat other than their cars.
And so after they were done preparing their food they walked on over and sat down with me. Jayson was still out fishing and didn't come back untill much later, well after the sun had gone down.
The 6 new people were all around my age and consisted of a couple from Belgium, two girls from Malaysia and two girls from Taiwan. We spent the night talking about our travels and the things we had done and seen so far in New Zealand, and we had a great time. We had a lot of laughs. At around 11:00 they said goodnight and retreated to sleep in their cars.

Sunset at the Spirits Bay camping grounds

I had thought about sleeping outside under the stars but during the night we were plagued by so many mosquitoes I decided against that, and I set up my tent. It was already too late though, the mosquitoes had already feasted on me. I am currently covered in mosquito bites. I have about 6 or 7 bites just on my left foot, not even just the leg. Many more can be found on there, as well as my right leg, and both my arms from top to bottom. Even my right hand is quite stiff on one side from all the bites or perhaps some kind of allergic reaction. Because of this I was quite unable to sleep from all the itching that night. When I did finally sleep very lightly it was already nearing the dawn.
When I woke up, Jayson had already left, and so had the couple from Belgium and the other girls in their car. I was alone in the middle of nowhere, and the weather had turned to shit. A new car had arrived early in the morning but nobody was around. The fog was hanging thick and low, my tent covered wet from all the dew, and I felt pretty shit after sleeping so poorly and after that quick look-around in the morning. I decided to go back inside the tent and lied there for awhile, just spending some time thinking and looking at a new swarm of mosquitoes trying to breach the inner tent. After a while I did some reading, as I still couldn't sleep.
After a few hours I heard somebody coming back to the car and I talked to the guy for some time. I learned that he wasn't alone, but he had taken his young nephew out to fish. He just got something from the car and went back to the fishing. Some time later he and his nephew returned, having given up on catching any fish that day.
I asked them if they were willing to give me a ride back up, as the camping grounds was about 15 kilometers away from the main road, and even further away from everything else. I was in luck, as they were going back to Kaitaia and the man was willing take me along.

It was a long ride but I had an interesting conversation with the man about all kinds of things, eventually ending up at politics. He became quite vocal then, telling me about his hatred for the government. He was living by himself off the grid, not wanting to have anything to do with the government or most other people, and he had spent most of his life being nomadic, always moving around to new places all over New Zealand, always getting bored pretty quick of his current location.
He was thinking about traveling abroad, maybe to Asia, but more likely to Europe to look at the old castles and places like that. I told him he should and that he would have a great time.
He dropped me off in front of the Hike and Bike Hostel in Kaitaia, and there I had my first shower in 4 days in which I sweated quite a lot. The shower was quite welcome indeed, though it restarted all the itches from all the mosquito bites all over again.
And that's where I am again right now: sitting in the Kaitaia library, nearly 7 weeks after I last sat here writing my last post. The next goal will be the Bay of Islands, either tomorrow or the day after.

Until next time!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Going North

It's been a while since the last post, and plenty has happened in the meantime. I'm struggling to find places with free wifi that aren't limited to 50 MB's (that I burn through all too quickly) so I can upload pictures and video's and write posts, though I hope that will get better with time. My old tactic of sitting at a McDonalds sipping a Coke doesn't cut it here I'm afraid. Right now the local library is my best friend, because they do offer seemingly unlimited wifi and thus allows me to write this post and upload pictures and video's :)

Anyway, I got out of Auckland after a string of bus-rides that left me pretty confused, and even stranded out of the way (though the friendly bus driver drove me back to where I needed to be for free), but eventually I made it to the edge of the city and I managed to find a small road leading outwards and up North, though it was a small sideroute with not a ton of traffic. I could have gone for the #1 highway, but the map I had of Auckland didn't show the edges of the city and so I couldn't really see where I was headed, so I ended up on the 'wrong side of town', at a much smaller country road.
Thankfully I only had to wait for about 20 minutes untill my very first NZ ride showed up, and got me to Helensville. Calvin was his name, and he offered me a place to stay if I couldn't get another ride. Before he dropped me off he showed me where he lived, and then drove me to the edge of town.

It wasn't long there untill Michael showed up, who was a great help. Not only did he drive me to Orewa, but he helped me get a map of New Zealand's North Island with all the towns and roads on it. Because he was an AA member he could get me the map for free.
When he dropped me off I already had my next ride within three cars of passing me by. Jane was a woman nearing her 50's I think, who told me about her Dutch soon-to-be daughter in law, who she was about to meet for the first time at her son's wedding. Her and her son had gotten estranged, and it was clear it was eating her up inside. I hope that soon they will be able to mend things, whatever has occurred in the past. Jane dropped me off in Wellsford, and left me to go on my way.
Today's goal was the city of Whangarei, and though the day was nearing it's end I managed to get there thanks to Eamon, who I had a very interesting conversation with. He did studies in native Maori traditions and the like, and looked for ways to incorporate them into our modern society, looking for any way they could be of help to solve today's problems. We talked about different kinds of things like that and ended up talking about money and the importance we place on it, and I told him about the Alan Watts video I uploaded on my Youtube channel. He left me his card, and later on I sent him an email with the link to the video. He dropped me off in front of a small backpackers hotel, and it was here that I stayed for 5 more nights due to the rainy weather.

Not much happened in this time. I walked into town daily looking for internet, and trying to look for a job online that could keep me out of the bad weather for a while. Days are still short too, with the sun going down at 6, and going up some time at 6 in the morning too. That is quite a lot of darkness, and it would be nice to stay somewhere till the days grow a bit longer and the weather a bit better.
I found a potential job in Ahipara, and that was to be my next goal. We exchanged an email or two, and I was asked to call. But I couldn't use the local payphones as they didn't accept cash, and I keep only a small prepaid cellphone for emergencies that I wasn't going to use for this. So I decided I would visit personally.
After the 5 days of rain in Whangarei I was pretty fed up with the place, and so I was glad to head back out on the road again. I walked for a while to try and get to the edge of the city, which I thought I had found, and set my pack upon the ground to start hitching once more.
After about 15 minutes a car pulled over. In it was Pietta (not sure of the spelling there), and she told me I wasn't in the right spot. Turns out the city stretched out for a good while longer. But she could get me to the edge of town, and so she did. She dropped me off at a stretch of highway, with enough room for cars to pull over. It wasn't the best spot to be, but I made it work.
After a little while I was rescued from this place by Simon and Jo, and they were a great ride. An older couple from the South Island, they were going up north to do some house-sitting. They were very interested and enthusiastic, and we had a great time for as long as the ride lasted. They left me their card and told me to call them or look them up when I got to the South Island, and left me on a stretch of road close to a garage and gas station, with little else in sight.

Another 5 minute wait and I was on my way again. Hitchhiking has been incredibly easy so far! Even getting out of a big city like Auckland didn't take longer than 20 minutes. I might simply have been lucky there, but I'll find out soon enough. There's not a ton of places to go north of Auckland, and eventually I'll have to pass through it again on my way south.
Anyway, this time I got a ride from a girl somewhere around my own age, called Diana. She was a very cheerful person and fun to talk to, and soon I learned that her grandfather (who she called Opa, which is Dutch for grandfather) was an immigrant from the Netherlands who had moved here a few years after the second World War.
She was going to stop at his place for the afternoon and after dinner would drive on to Kaitaia, which was my goal for the day (or perhaps even Ahipara, which is only a 10-minute drive from Kaitaia, if there was still time). She offered to take me along and meet him and her sister, who lived in with her grandfather to take care of him. Being a traveler with no big plans and timetables I intend to make the most of every opportunity that is presented to me, and so I joined her for the afternoon.

She told me I could expect some jokes about her bringing along her boyfriend and similarly styled jokes, and indeed there were quite a few. It was funny though, and I had a good laugh with all of them. Her grandfather has dementia, and we had the same conversation for quite a few times. I didn't mind, I had a good time. In the afternoon we sat outside in the garden looking at the fish-pond for a while, and I helped repairing a shed door which was knocked out of it's sliders. Diana, her sister Mellanie and their grandfather were all very friendly. Unfortunately I can't quite recall his name anymore though. They gave me lunch and later on I met their parents who came over for dinner, which was great. I ate till I couldn't eat no more, and had a pleasant conversation with Diana's dad. 
In the evening Diana drove me to Kaitaia, and along the way I found out she had some similar interests to mine concerning videogames, us both having played The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and having great memories of it. When we got to Kaitaia she helped me find a hostel for the night (they felt uncomfortable leaving me somewhere to just camp as I had planned, and I figured I could use a place to do the laundry). It is days like this that make hitchhiking so great.

Next day I planned to get to Ahipara, but first I went to look for a store that sold Coleman fuel, having been unlucky in that regard in both Auckland and Whangarei. I managed to find some in Kaitaia and filled my MSR fuel bottle. I still had fuel left over though, and I couldn't take it with me. So I adressed the first two men I saw walking across the car park and asked them if either of them used that kind of fuel, and one of them actually did. So I gave what I had left over to him and hoisted my pack upon my back and set out to find the road to Ahipara.
It wasn't too far off, and I found a nice spot at a bridge with a beautiful view. I bent over to put my pack on the ground, and before I could have stood upright again a car had already pulled over.
Bob was retiree who already knew where I was going before I could say anything, and helped me put my pack in the back of his car. A 10-minute drive later, and we were in Ahipara, my only ride for the day. He helped me find the hostel that I had found the job offer of, and dropped me off at the parking in front of it.

This is the view when you leave Kaitaia towards Ahipara. Beautiful eh?

When I went inside and introduced myself I learned that the job had already been given away to a girl who had stayed there and had asked if there was an opening. I was too late, and though that was unfortunate, it also was very fortunate, as it led to the events of the coming few days. I often wonder while I'm hitchhiking if things turn out the way they should, as if things are led by a fate of some kind, as if things just had to turn out a certain way. Usually where one door closes, another opens, and great things happen.
I decided to make use of the good weather and find a place to camp for the next few days. The hostel was situated at the front of the 90-Mile Beach, which stretched off to the right, and could be seen for a great distance. To the left was a long stretch of beach as well, with a cliff-like corner at what seemed would be walking distance for the day, and so I decided to follow the beach and see what was up there.

Kaitaia Beach.

Fresh water flowing out into the ocean.

I had a pretty long walk but eventually found a nice hamlet at the beach that would give me protection from the high tide that I was warned about by a friendly man on the beach. I wasn't quite at the bend yet, but I decided this place was good enough, and so I set up my tent for the night. To the sides of my tent were steep hills covered in low-growing trees, in front the beach and the ocean, and in the back I had a big sanddune rising at least a hundred meters high. I did some more walking around at the beach, and before I cooked dinner I decided to have a look from atop the sanddune. Before I was halfway up my legs were dead-tired and I felt like I could collapse, and I had to take several breaks before I managed to get up there. My endurance has a long way to go haha, I've been too static at home. It was a good view up there from where I could see more of the 90-Mile Beach, but after a while I decided to head back down to cook my noodles. 
The sun was setting fast, and it was dark before I was done. I did the dishes in the ocean and set them out to dry during the night. The previous day I had finished a book called The Road Back by Erich Maria Remarque, which is the sequal to All Quiet On The Western Front, one of my all-time favourites, and today I decided I would re-read Walden, Or Life In The Woods by Henry David Thoreau for the second time, the last time I read it being back in Canada. It is heavy reading, and back home I don't have the concentration to read it and properly absorb it. Too many distractions. But out here, all there was to distract me was the sound of the birds and the ocean in the background, and I read all evening. During the night the high tide set in, and the following morning I could see no cars or people would be able to reach this place untill at least noon.

My tent as seen from the sand dune.

The top of the sand dune.

I decided to go for a swim in the ocean. And with no people around, who needs a swim suit? 
So I stripped down and headed for the water. I looked and walked around for a bit to find a good spot, and that's when I saw them. Two people walking down the beach, heading my direction, with just a low dune between us. Apparently they had stayed the night a bit further down the beach, which is ofcourse just my luck haha. I should have kept walking and I would have passed them by, but instead I decided to take a quick run back to the tent. And so it was that when these people passed the low dune and looked to the hamlet where my tent was, they saw my beautiful white ass on a jog for cover. I know this because I heard one of them give a surprised shout. At this I decided I could just as well go for a walking pace, there was nowhere to duck and at this point, I honestly didn't care all that much anymore. As soon as they were out of sight, I headed back for the beach and went for a swim.
Apart from those two people, I didn't see anybody else for the entire morning, though I went on a bit of a hike along the beach. I paid for that morning of walking around that evening, because ofcourse I was very sunburned. My upper legs were red like lobsters, and so was my back, and I still feel them today (this was 2 days ago). That night though, I settled myself in my sleeping bag and watched a movie called Tracks, the true story of a woman on a two-thousand mile camel hike through Australia. As you might expect from a hiking movie it was a bit slow in parts, but it was a good and interesting watch.

Enjoying the cold ocean water and the fresh air.

The road to home.

Ahipara Beach.

Later in the afternoon when it became more crowded I went to the top of a small hill on the beach to do some more reading too.

The EReader I use now is very useful indeed. I can keep an entire library on me, and the battery lasts very long.

Sunset on the beach.

The next morning I had run out of food and water, and so I packed up my stuff and headed back for Ahipara. I was tired, not having slept very well the past two nights (getting used again to sleeping on the ground is going to take a little while), and so my pace was slow. I walked for maybe a kilometer or so when I heard a car pull up beside me. In it were two men, who asked me if I could use a ride to town. And that I could. 
They introduced themselves as the Natives, Kana and Honkee (I'm completely sure that you don't spell it like this at all), and they were on an emergency trip. That emergency being that they had run out of beer. And so ofcourse they had to brave the high tides back to town. Where I was the high tide was ok, with room to walk and drive. But further on their was no room left at all, and the ocean water reached all the way across to the cliff-side. Before we got to the town, the car got swamped with water and the engine shut off. Honkee tried pushing the car along and we got a few meters further and bit more out of the water, but he had to jump back into the car and close the door because there was a big wave about to hit the car. He didn't quite make it in time and much of the water got inside, flooding the car floor. It was all a great bit of fun, and the three of us had a good laugh. What's even better, I got it all on camera.

After a while of sitting there Kana got the car to work again and we manage to make it to Ahipara.
Before we got the beer I was already invited back to their place. They lived in a collection of shacks down at the beach, beyond where I was camping. This was another one of those opportunities not to be wasted, and of which I wanted to make the most. And so it was that I headed back to where I had just come from, to an afternoon of drinking beer and getting quite a bit drunk. I met their cousins who they hadn't seen for a while, and it wasn't long before the beer was gone. Kana and me headed back to Ahipara to get another case, this one on me. We got a bottle of something else too, Ruby something. 
We didn't quite finish it all off, but we got a long way! Sometime in the afternoon everybody split up, heading back to their respective shacks. I had been shown a place to sleep on a couch in one of them too, something that looked like a communal kitchen but which I didn't see anyone use. I went to lie down and relax a little bit as Kana (who lived right next door) went to sleep. It was around three o'clock and I hadn't decided on sleeping too, but I didn't wake up untill the sun was already going down. I got outside and saw nobody around, and it getting a bit cold, I took out my sleeping bag and went to sleep a bit more.

At midnight I heard someone stumbling around inside the shack. It was Kana looking for more beer, and he invited me to watch a DVD with him. That surprised me, because I had been told they didn't have an electricity line up here. It turns out he had solar panels on the roof that were hooked up to a battery, and the DVD player was a stereo-like device with a small screen that it was hard to seen anything on in any clear detail. The movie that was on was The Italian Job, and despite some hiccups from the DVD player it was fun to watch still. 
I had not eaten anything since some time early that morning when I had some slices of bread, and at this point I was very hungry. Kana was too, and despite not feeling like it he got up to cook some food. He made eggs with some type of meat that smelled like bacon but wasn't, and after a while he presented me with a plate covered in greasy fluid, poached egg and the meat, all covered in that grease. It didn't look very appetizing, to say the least, but not wanting to be a bad guest I started to eat.
I managed to get in most of it, but after one last bite of egg I almost had to throw up. I had to swallow back some egg that had come up, and I decided to pretend I was full. The rest was given to the dog, who ate it all with great satisfaction. After that movie I went back to sleep again, and didn't get up until it was almost afternoon again. Honkee was going to drive me back to Ahipara that day, but when I looked him up further down on the beach he told me he wouldn't go until the tide had come up and he had been diving for seafood, and so I had some time to kill. I walked up and down the beach, before eventually sitting down to read some more of Walden untill Honkee showed up to drive me to Ahipara. The weather was turning bad at this point, and it was starting to rain. I gave Honkee some gas money so he could get back to the shacks, and then he dropped me off at the edge of Ahipara.

The couch I slept on.

'My' shack.

The inside of Kana's shack.

My third sunset on the Ahipara beach.

With the help of my new inflatable pillow the couch slept extremely well!

On my last day on the beach I went to explore their ocean-side community a bit further.

Shacks really describe them the best. But it keeps them out of the weather and they all seemed more than happy to live there, even going so far as to call it Paradise with no hint of irony. It's not something I'm used to seeing but I can definitely see the appeal of living there, being free of taxes and other irksome obligations, and beautiful nature all around you.

By now it was raining steadily and I hastened to put a cover over my backpack and to put on my jacket before assuming my position at the side of the road. The first car to pass pulled over but could only take me as far as a junction further down the road, in the middle of nowhere. I declined, opting to wait for another car. That took a while, and I was gradually getting soaked, until finally another car pulled over and drove me to Ahipara. She was a doctor called Sarah, and she ended up giving me her and her mom's phone numbers for when I was ever down in Ahipara again. She pointed me to a potential summer job as well, which I'll look into further down the road. She dropped me off at an ATM because I needed to take up some more cash (I can't use my bank card anywhere except ATM's, so I always need to carry a sufficient amount of cash on me), and then I set off to find the other hostel in town. The one I stayed in previously was pretty good though the internet was very limited (to 50 MB's of data), so I figured I'd have a look at the other one. That one didn't have any internet it turns out, and it was kind of weird smelling and definitely dirtier and more run-down than the other hostel, but the guy running it was very nice, an old man with a long white beard and long hair and wearing a funky beanie hat, and so I decided to stay there. It was 7 bucks cheaper too, though that doesn't amount to much. I got myself a dorm room, and that's where I've been for two nights now. I will probably move on again tomorrow, to try and reach Cape Reinga, if the weather improves.

Untill next time!