Skimming Deep

Searching, traveling, talking, reflecting, and exploring. Read along with me as I continue on my journey through life.

Tag: Auckland

Being a Tourist

When I'm in Boston, it occurs to me every so often, especially in the summer, how many tourists there are in the city. And though it's definitely more pronounced in the summer, it seems there probably are tourists all year round.

On the flip side, being in a foreign country and city, and being a tourist myself, it seems that there are tourists everywhere and it's hard to find the locals in the midst! I know it's all about perspective and relativity: like when you're single and want to be coupled up, everyone seems to be coupled up around you; or if you're going through a mid life crisis, it seems others around you are, too. (not that i'm going through a “crisis” right now– far from it– I'm feeling like this is a deliberate re-assessing of my role in the world and I'm taking intentional steps to figure things out. “Crisis” to me connotes chaos, spinning out of control, freaking out a bit. That's definitely not how I'm feeling!)

So I'm here in another Esquires Coffee shop. Was kind of tempted to step into a Starbucks, but I wanted to resist American chains while I'm abroad. My coffee isn't as good as yesterday's– it seems the quality isn't so consistent from shop to shop. Here's my view from my little table:

Auckland is a pretty city– hilly, views of the sea and the mountains from various points. And, as I said yesterday, incredibly diverse– well, mainly diverse with different types of Asians and Pacific Islanders, not really many black folks.

I resist the idea of being a tourist, though I'm sure I stick out like a sore thumb– big backpack, travel-walking shoes, outdoor jacket. And I'm very aware of my American accent when I speak to Kiwis (as they call New Zealand people). I like trying to find out what it feels like to really live in a city rather than just be a tourist. Sitting in a coffee shop, going to the grocery store, sitting in a park…

And I am hoping to be able to just start talking to people– travelers and locals alike. But being a shy person who hates to schmooze and make small talk, I'm not sure how successful that will be. I want to skip through all the fluffy talk and really learn about another person and find out what makes them tick. I find I learn a lot from other people's stories. I reflect on what makes them different or similar to me and then make all kinds of connections and spin webs to make their story relevant to me, even if they are really different.

I'm hoping WWOOFing will allow me to meet some people and talk to them about their choices– why they live where they live, do what they do, are the way they are.

So although I'm technically a tourist for these next few months, I'm also a truth-seeker, an adventurer, a documentarian. This trip feels so different from other trips I've taken– I really feel like I'm going to come out different on the other end. And maybe that's why it feels so… monumental, big, life changing. Who will I be a few months from now? What will I know? What will I think? What stories will have been added to my collection?

One Day in Auckland Yields…

Well, I really have one and a half days in Auckland– today and tomorrow morning/ early afternoon. Today felt busy but I really only did one thing– a tramp on Rangitoto island. But with all the walking I did, with backpacks of varying sizes, it felt like I got a workout. I certainly worked up a sweat!

View of a people-less street at 6:45am on Monday morning in downtown Auckland.

Now I'm shower-clean with some food in my belly, sitting in the common room of the City Garden Lodge, blogging about my adventures of the day.

So nothing really to report food-wise. I didn't eat very well, honestly, especially after the feast-a-rama in LA. Here's some of the meager eats from today:

Decent Americano and banana chocolate chip muffin at Esquires Coffee, a chain all around Auckland. I feel they could have done a better job naming their shop. Conjures images of a gentleman's club for some reason!

Omu rice. More on this below.

There were two main highlights from today:

  1. I found a Korean market– legit! They even talked to me in Korean! And I bought some omu rice for my lunch (see photo above). And for dinner, I bought (sad to admit this) a bowl ramen to bring back and eat at the hostel. Hopefully that's the last bowl ramen I'll be eating on this trip!!
  2. A tramp/ hike/ walk at Rangitoto Island, off the shore of Auckland. Rangitoto is the youngest and largest volcanic cone in Auckland, according to the Lonely Planet. I took a ferry there from the Ferry Building in Auckland center ($17NZD) which was a nice way to see Auckland's city skyline. We got to the island around 1pm, and the next and last ferry of the day was 3:30pm. Signs for the summit hike (the only reason to come to the island, by the way) read 1.5 hours to the summit which meant that unless we booked it, we wouldn't make it up and back to get the last ferry. So the group of us that got off the ferry really raced up the summit. At least it felt that way! I got up to the top in an hour, which was good. It was a nice, semi-challenging hike. I worked up a sweat, especially towards the end where it was steady uphill. And the view up top was a 360 panorama of the island and all the water surrounding. Beautiful.

View of Rangitoto summit from the dock where the ferry dropped us off, on a beach.

I wasn't able to upload photos from the top of the summit because they're on my camera, but I'll do that tomorrow, hopefully. That was my first glimpse of the beautiful views of New Zealand.

The whole trip to Rangitoto Island takes about 4-5 hours, so it's a great day trip if you're coming to Auckland and want to see some nature and get on a boat!

Now a few words about the hostel, the City Garden Lodge. It's a cozy and clean little hostel. Owned by a nice older gentleman– I heard him being called Ian, I believe. It's at the top of a hill in Parnell, a neighborhood of Auckland. It's a bit of a hike from the city center, but it's in a nice residential area. And close by is a main street with lots of nice restaurants and shops. Seems kind of like a high end area, which is ironic because there are these budget backpacker hostels in the neighborhood, too. I found the hostel on the Budget Backpackers Hostel website, which I became a member of. I heard from a friend of a friend that their hostels were a bit quirkier, out of the way, and had more character than the traditional International Hostelling hostels. This place was $27NZD for the night– I should not have booked online because I missed out on the BBH discount! Darn it! Read the fine print!

This place has really clean bathrooms, a big common kitchen, a cozy common area with wood burning stove, a yoga/ meditation room, and a cute little garden out front. I recommend it if you're OK with being a little out of the way from the thick of it.

So far so good with my travels. I didn't overplan, especially my Auckland stay, since I knew I was only going to be here for the day. But everything from the airport to the hostel went smoothly. I relied on some common sense and just asking people for help, and I didn't run into any challenges, really. I'm trying to learn to do this more– go with the flow, ask for help, and not freak out about the minute details. Today was good practice for that. I took things slow. Rested a lot. Just soaked in the idea that I'm in another country halfway around the world, in a different hemisphere and different time zone, too! My Rangitoto hike was totally unplanned– I just looked in the Lonely Planet this morning while I was waiting for the hostel to open and found this day trip idea from Auckland. And I walked to the Ferry Building, stopping at the Korean market on the way, and made things happen.

I was reminded of a favorite song from a favorite movie, The Sound of Music:

What will this day be like? I wonder.

What will my future be? I wonder.

It could be so exciting to be out in the world, to be free

My heart should be wildly rejoicing

Oh, what's the matter with me?

I've always longed for adventure

To do the things I've never dared

And here I'm facing adventure

Then why am I so scared

A captain with seven children

What's so fearsome about that?

Oh, I must stop these doubts, all these worries

If I don't I just know I'll turn back

I must dream of the things I am seeking

I am seeking the courage I lack

The courage to serve them with reliance

Face my mistakes without defiance

Show them I'm worthy

And while I show them

I'll show me

So, let them bring on all their problems

I'll do better than my best

I have confidence they'll put me to the test

But I'll make them see I have confidence in me

So I'm hoping to do a little reflecting, processing, travel-logging, food-blogging, confidence-building, and travel-tipping on this blog for the duration of my travels. Hope everyone gets a little of something!

Arrival in Auckland, New Zealand

I am here!

Currently, I'm sitting on a bench in the middle of downtown Auckland at a free wi-fi hot spot. Pretty cool. You get 30 minutes of free wi-fi from the city each day at these hot spots. Here's my view:

The whole process of getting here, not only physically but mentally and all that, has been pretty painless.

  • I had a great last day in LA with my cousins, eating ramen and Korean pork belly BBQ. So yummy.
  • The plane ride was really quite nice. Fly Air New Zealand if and when you come to the land down under! They have free meals, free baggage allowance, individual TV monitors with free movies, and really nice flight attendants. It barely even felt like a 13 hour flight! I watched two movies (The Avengers and Brave), had lunch and breakfast, and was even able to get in about 6 hours of sleep.
  • I landed at Auckland airport at 5am and was able to get my bags and get through customs all by about 6am.
  • I got a new sim card and call/ text/ data package through Telecom NZ for $35NZD at the airport kiosk. Slightly better deal than Vodaphone, a big international provider. And I found out that I could still iMessage for free on my iPhone! So exciting! Incoming calls and texts are free, so if anyone wants to text or call me, email and I'll send you my number!
  • I found my way to the bus that brings people into Auckland city center. And for $16NZD, I got to the destination. It was about 7am by the time I arrived in town. My hostel didn't open till 8, so I decided to walk the 1.5 miles instead of taking a bus. Wasn't too bad considering I had my 33 pound pack on my back and a smaller backpack on my front. And there was a steep hill at the very end, but I made it in 30 minutes!
  • I caught my breath at the hostel (City Garden Lodge) and then walked out, with only my small backpack, to the ferry terminal to catch a ferry to Rangitoto Island where there's a hike up a volcano. Another 30 minute walk around Parnell and Auckland. Nice city. And lots of diversity. I hit up a Korean market for some fried rice for my lunch later. Korean people!

So now I'm just biding my time for the ferry. The 10:30am one got delayed because of bad weather. So I have about 2 hours to wait for the next one. It's kind of rainy, grey, and windy here. Probably in the 50s or so. But the sun keeps breaking through, so I hope I can make the hike later!

During the time I've been sitting here, it's dowpoured rain and now it's sunny and blue-skied. Strange.

Hope to post more pics later when I'm back at the hostel!

New Zealand, Here I Come!

New Zealand, here I come!

I’ve got a non refundable ticket to Auckland.  The wheels are set in motion and I can’t jump off or else I lose a chunk of change.

I’m going to be WWOOFing, hiking, hopefully diving and swimming… enjoying all that New Zealand has to offer a woman on the search for answers to life.

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