Who would have thought I would be writing this sat having breakfast OUTSIDE in Cornwall Park on a glorious winter morning. Although it’s probably only a matter of time before I moan about the cold or the sky clouds over and the heavens open. Auckland’s like that you see, four seasons in a day. And I thought Melbourne was bad, New Zealand has got to be the must blustery place I have ever visited.
During my last two and a half years of travel, every one I met said that I should move to New Zealand as it was “my kind of place” so this year, after my little stint in India, I decided “why not“. My friend Pauline lives here in Auckland and I’ve been desperate to see her again since our backpacking days way back in 2009. I said I’d visit her one day and here I am.
I like Auckland and the two weeks I have spent here has made me certain that this is a place where I could settle. I first realised this when I was riding Pauline’s new bike around town. Every cyclist that past me, and there were a fair few, said “good morning” and “nice day for a ride“. Friendliness like this reminds me of when I am out in the good ol’ English countryside, a far cry away from my home city Portsmouth where I’d most likely hear a “fuck off“.
It’s true what they say, kiwis are friendly and I’ve had many conversations about sweet nothings with total strangers. It’s clean here too. Everything is well-kept, well-presented and I haven’t seen a single piece of litter. The roads are as smooth as a baby’s bottom and people actually follow the rules, apart from me who rode here without a helmet – oops.
I’m now inside, rather cold as you guessed it, the sky clouded over and the heavens opened. Typical. I’ve been chatting to the ladies sat at the table next to me who recommended some good food down south. That’s another thing New Zealand appears to do well, food. Everything is locally sourced and I can’t even get my beloved raspberries or blueberries as they are out of season. I find this really weird because in England, Australia and even India, large supermarkets always have imported fruits and veggies. My friend Pauline and her fiancé Jazz kindly put on a NZ food and wine evening for me so that I could sample some local delicacies and meet their friends. It certainly didn’t disappoint.
I’ve only been here two weeks but I’ve managed to try a fair few eateries spending an absolute fortune on coffee and cake – no change there then. Typical kiwi fare includes breakfast items like mince on toast, Asian-style sticky rice, comforting cakes and seasonal puds. Salmon and lamb here is all of exceptional quality and coffee’s a winner too. I’ve tried all the local roasters with Supreme’s long black being the only one I haven’t enjoyed.
Most of my time has been spent shopping which is a little surprising considering I absolutely hate shopping and I have no space in my bag for anymore but I guess it’s been a good excuse to explore different areas and refuel with coffee, cake or lunch. Newmarket is still, in my eyes, the best place for shopping. The famous suburb of Ponsonby is pleasant but pricey and for me lacked the atmosphere it is known for. Maybe if I went there with friends on a weekend it would be different.
A walk along Wynyard Quarter, Viaduct Harbour, Britomart and a trip to Mission Bay showed me that Auckland is the perfect city for keen sailors. There are literally thousands of boats which make an interesting walk by the shore. I didn’t go up the famous Sky Tower as my walk up Mount Eden gave me spectacular views across the city. Mount Eden is one of the 58 volcanic cones that make up Auckland’s volcanic field. This makes the city very very hilly, a bit of a nightmare for a cyclists like me but “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and I probably need to work off all that cake anyway. Mount Hobson is another spot for stunning city views and some local genius decided to hang a swing off one of the trees up there.
I was lucky enough to be invited round to Jazz’s sisters house for dinner both Fridays where she cooked the most delicious Indian food and her young daughter impressed me with her baking skills. It was so nice to be welcomed into the family like that and my stay with Pauline and Jazz has been absolutely perfect, I couldn’t have asked for more. Jazz’s three adorable kids were on school holidays and I enjoyed having them around. I have just about grasped the needs of a one year old after visiting my friend Mel and her family in Perth but a three, six and nine year old is a whole different ball game.
When the three year old said he needed a poo, I looked at him blankly. Dad had quickly popped out and Pauline was asleep recovering from an operation so I had no choice but to facilitate this rather mysterious event. I have never wiped someone else’s bum before but like most things in my life, I just winged it. I felt a strange sense of achievement after wiping my first arse and now confident that I can successfully play mum to 600 calves.
Not like toddlers are in any sense the same as baby cows but the principal is practically the same, right? That’s my next job by the way, calf rearing. Tomorrow I fly to Queenstown in the South Island to brave the wet and windy, minus three degrees conditions. I’m not sure what the hell I was thinking but I need to get outdoors and once again, challenge myself. It’s nearly been a year since I last worked (apart from six days over Christmas) which I’m certainly not complaining about but I am rather looking forward to some hard graft.
I’d like to end this post with a massive thank you to my friend Pauline, her fiancé Jazz and their friends and family for making my first two weeks in New Zealand so enjoyable. In all honesty, I found the first week particularly difficult, a little lonely and a little awkward about staying in someone’s home but as time passed, I’m really rather sad about leaving. It’s time for a new adventure down south, more on that coming soon…..