hiking on rangitoto island
New Zealand

New Zealand week 1 – about jetlags and getting lost in the bush

Even though I know blogs like these will not score SEO wise (for non-blogging readers: search engine optimization, so making sure your blog will be found on Google) I enjoy keeping an online diary while I’m in New Zealand. Because this is actually why I started blogging in the first place: writing an online travel diary. I’m experiencing and seeing a lot while on the road and as I will probably not remember everything about this trip in the end, I’ve decided to write a weekly update about my three month New Zealand trip. Most of all just for myself, but I’d be happy if you’d read along with me!
My trip to New Zealand started off a little stressful as I wasn’t able to check in for my Shanghai – Auckland flight. In Amsterdam I could check in for Amsterdam – Shanghai with KLM, but my onwards flight was impossible and Air New Zealand told me to check in at the desk in Amsterdam, which I could not because I had already gone through customs. Eventually someone at KLM told me I had to go through customs in China (but I did not have a China visa) and then check in locally for the next flight, whereas a flight attendant on board told me that I should definitely not pass through customs. On board I ran into a Belgian couple who were on the same onwards flight as me and so we went through the whole procedure together. You won’t believe it … first I got a one day visa for China at customs, then I picked up my luggage and went through a thorough baggage check. Then I walked some 15 minutes to the next terminal, where I checked in for my onward flight. Then I had to go through customs again and in-validate my China visa and eventually I went through two more luggage checks. You’d think the Chinese would have thought of a smarter procedure but OK … eventually it took me two hours to get to my next flight, the one to Auckland.
While departing from Amsterdam I already shed some tears, but once New Zealand was coming into sight, my tears were pouring down. I know it sounds a little insane, but my love for New Zealand is so massive that I became really emotional when seeing Cape Reinga from the plane. And as the sun rose the whole land behind me was covered in an orange glow. I could not have hoped for a better arrival and return to my favorite country in the world. As opposed to Shanghai, everything went super smooth and fast in Auckland and within no-time I was outside the terminal, waiting for my shuttle to get me to downtown Auckland, where I checked into my hostel.
The first couple of days in Auckland I mostly spent preparing for my journey. I bought a red Toyota Corolla which I’m calling Red, I got quite a bit of new outdoor gear and I tried to get into some kind of rhythm, failing that hopelessly. Each time I came back to my room from the city in the late afternoon, I fell asleep right away, usually still wearing my clothes and contact lenses. Then I woke up again at about 8 o’clock which was about the same time Holland wakes up and so I ended texting for hours, before finally heading to bed again at midnight or so. And so I woke up at 05.00 am again each day, eventually never really getting into a fine rhythm.
Buying a car took quite a bit of time and energy but eventually it went pretty quick and smooth. Learning to drive it was a bit of a challenge though since it’s a manual, and driving on the left side also means shifting gears on the left side. I’m used to a manual but not shifting in the opposite direction. So not only I had to pay attention to driving on the left side, but again on shifting the right way. Especially in downtown Auckland it was a bit of a challenge but I think eventually it went quite well, despite it being quite hilly. After being on the road for two days, I think I’m managing quite well, however I still tend to use the indicator for the wipers and vice versa… but I still have some ten weeks left to get used to that.
New Years Eve was a special one this year. I did not feel like doing anything (there were not a whole lot of nice people in my hostel, everyone kinda seemed to stick to themselves) and I actually planned to go to sleep, not even bothering. Eventually I was still awake by 11.00 pm and decided that I might as well head into town to see the Skytower and the fireworks. In the end it was quite an amazing experience and even though it only lasted some five minutes, it was super spectacular to witness this in real life. There’s a video on my Facebook page by the way, in case you haven’t seen it yet!
By now I have really hit the road. From Auckland I made day trips to Rangitoto Island as well as the Waitakere Ranges and I have left the city a couple of days ago. I drove up north and aimed for a multi-day hike but the weather forecast ended up being horrible and so I decided to just take it easy. Today I got lost for the first time as a solo-hiker by the way. I recall that the better-known hikes are well signposted by DOC (Department of Conservation) but once I struck a ‘Warning – steep drop-offs beyond this point. No formed or marked track. sign I wasn’t sure if I was actually on the right track, since there was nothing but a vertical wall in front of me. I’ve only climbed it for a little bit but then decided that it was not safe to continue, also because I had no idea whether this was actually the right trail or not. And so I wisely decided to return as I had no clue where I was and the steep drop offs scared me a bit. I was quite convinced I had lost the right track at some point because I didn’t run into anyone for at least an hour, but I guess I’ll never know. On the way back the sky cleared and the views (see cover picture) were pretty awesome. So even though I didn’t finish the hike as planned, I still had a great day out. I even ran into a through hiker who was on Te Araroa (New Zealand’s long distance trail) with whom I ended up chatting for at least an hour.
Now that I’m on the way, I’ve noticed I’m actually quite busy. In Auckland I got quite tired of being in my room after a while so I ended up using the internet a lot but now that I’ve hit the road (and have less wifi access) my days are filled with driving, hiking, camping, groceries and planning my next days ahead. I’ve not spend a whole lot of time on social media (I’ve not updated my Instagram stories for a while, for example) which is fine because I’m here to hike and enjoy, not to be online all the time. See you next week!
Want to read more about my previous New Zealand adventures? You may also like the following posts:
The most beautiful unknown places in New Zealand
New Zealand travel tips for first timers
Hiking in New Zealand – the best places
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