Hitching the Northland with Germans in a Campervan

October 2008

Ok, so it has been  a while since I have had a much access to the Internet, and as I IMG_0180describe what I’ve been up to I’m sure you will understand why. I have been hitching a ride with Hannah and Max, two Germans I met in my hostel in Auckland, through the Northland. The Northland is basically the top part of the North Island of New Zealand, and it is lush with beautiful coasts, isolated beaches, and sup-tropical weather.

Our first stop was a beach called Piha. I’m trying to upload pictures but it takes hours here with super slow internet so keep checking. Piha was my first chance to slowly exhale and say, wow, this is why I came to New Zealand. I felt trapped in the city atmosphere of Auckland, so it was so great to finallyIMG_0190 get out and explore. There was no room for me to sleep in their campervan though, so at each stop I had to find my own place to stay, which wasn’t easy because a lot of the areas in the Northland are pretty remote and accommodation, especially cheap accommodation, is few and far between. I ended up finding this surf shop/organic farm that had a camper bed for me. I didn’t know what a camperbed was, but soon found out it pretty much meant a hut. There were ants falling from the ceiling by the hundreds and the lady just handed me raid and a rag. I hung out with Hannah and Max at their Holiday Park (aka trailer park, but its in New Zealand so instead of being like ew this is trashy you are like wow this is so cool!) and when I returned at night to my hut, I heard some noise by the surf shop, so I headed towards the twinkle lights. I found the wwoofers sitting in the deck overlooking the ocean eating this huge meal they had all cooked together and having a jam session involving a diggory doo (sp?) a mandolin, bongos, and a guitar. Wwoofing is a really common job for backpackers here where you work on organic farms of various sorts in exchange for food and accommodation and an authentic NZ experience. Some host two people and some host 50 vegetarians spreading “free love”. I walked up and while I had only met the lady who showed me my room, all 20 IMG_0224or so people there were like “Shannon!! come join us! want some food? how’s it going take a seat!” It constantly amazes me how friendly and welcoming people are here. As I said I was determined to make this as much of a growing journey as possible, I ended up in on the jam sesh singing and playing guitar. I need to get over my weird issues with playing for people because all it boils down to is caring too much what other people think. I feel embarrassed thinking I’m not good, but then even if I were to be good then I worry people think I’m showing off. I play because I love music and so if I’m worried about all of that it takes away from it. So moral of the story is I need to get over it.

Anyways, after the jam sesh, I was ready to go to bed and the guys (I didn’t mention this yet but I was now with about 6 ridiculously good looking guys from Germany and America) were like no way, we have to play stump. Stump ended up being the most ridiculously stupid yet awesome game. Basically, we all stood around this giant tree stump, and we each had a nail that was only part way hammered into the stump. You then had to pass the hammer around and when it was your turn you had to flip the hammer in the air, catch it and then try to hit someone else’s nail down all in one smooth motion. Oh, and this is a drinking game too. I wouldn’t try it at home if I were you. The next day I left my new friends, bought a tent and sleeping bag to avoid ant infested huts in the future, and headed to a few more remote and beautiful locations along the east coast of the Northland.

I froze my ass off every night in my cheap tent and sleeping bag, and hardly slept at all IMG_0273during the whole journey, but hey I mean you get the change to hitch in a campervan in NZ you do it right? Hannah and Max were great and we did a lot of beautiful coastal walks (“walk” in NZ would be a hike to any American, but unless you are eating dried food and sleeping in huts on your way to the top of somewhere it may as well be a brisk jaunt here) that would consume pretty much our whole days, but we were on very different travel schedules. They have 7 months to just travel, and I need to start working soon. We parted ways in Russel, a quaint little seaside town, and I headed on to Paihia. Sorry for all the run-ons, I never get internet and its so expensive so I’m racing to get things done on here. Congrats on making it to the end of this. WARNING: the next entry contains debauchery. This is when things start to get good…

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