The Road to Wellington

I got a ride from Richy's parents just out of town, they were heading home to Auckland. Along with them were some fish that the torpedo had caught earlier that morning.

There was already a pickup truck pulling over before they pulled away, I hopped in and met an Indian guy heading for Mount Maunganui, near where he helped with the kiwi harvest.

I was fairly disoriented where he dropped me off, I wandered a little to get my bearings, finally choosing a road to stand on with my thumb out. I figured it was all good and fine, Wellington was my destination, but it didn't matter to me if I got there in one day or five.

The next guy to pick me up was heading for Waihi Beach, where I'd just come from. He was in no hurry and dropped me off at the turn off to Rotorua. I got a short ride from there a little further out of town, then I was quickly picked up by a plumber about my age on his way to Rotorua, "working on a Saturday".

He dropped me off by a McDonalds in town for a cheap cone and internet fix, I walked towards the Taupo road from there and got picked up by a guy with his kid heading to do a triathlon. He told me about the surrounding area and pointed in the hills where he said there was a hotel that actors and whatnot stayed at for four thousand dollars a night.

He dropped me off along the road in front of a lot of barking dogs, barking at my presence, some sort of pound or shelter it seemed like.

They calmed down eventually and accepted me, soon after I was picked up by a guy with a dog of his own in the back seat.

He said he was heading to Hastings to work with his brother on a dairy farm where they had four hundred and forty cows. We cruised at a good speed through the gorge, certainly not the direct route to Wellington, but the good one. There were forests on either side, he said he'd once planted some of them when he worked with forestry services.

We got to Napier, a nice looking town on the water, he stopped at the liquor store saying it was much cheaper than where he was going. He wasn't actually going to Hastings, but a small town past it. We took another road which he said would bypass it all together. I'm glad we did, this road passed through wine country, vineyards that stretched on and on, both sides of the road.

We popped open a couple of the bourbon cola cans he got and took it all in, I asked more about the cows.

"your best cow will give you 37 liters in a day", he told me, I was impressed that one cow in one day could supply over a months worth of milk, and they had so many putting out every day. Every so often they'd get half a cow worth of meat too, he wasn't going hungry.

We did a quick lap of the town when we arrived, he pointed out his house saying to stop by if I got stuck, then dropped me back off on the road.

It was getting later, but light sticks around this time of year, I walked down and up a hill along the road thumbing the odd car that passed.

Two young girls and two guys passed me and then turned around to get me, making room in the back, "we felt bad, it's so hot!"

It was a fun ride, laughing about one thing or another, me telling them things about America and them telling me about Wellington and the south island.

They drove me a ways past the city they were heading for wanting to get me as far as possible, "we'd drive you to Welly if we had enough petrol!"

I was let out in a town called Foxton just as darkness was taking over. I walked to the edge of it and caught a ride from a kid who'd picked up some beers and was heading up the road to some friends. He'd done some snowboarding and was keen to get to the states one day and give it a go there.

I walked to the edge of the next town, I figured I was about an hour ride away from Wellington by now.

I stood under a streetlight and was spotted by a guy named Paul heading to the next little town, a light rain had just started. He offered me his couch to crash on and I took him up in it, although there was talk of partying in the Wellington streets on account of a rugby victory that was tempting too.

We drank beers all night  while he went through his music collection, all New Zealand artists. He was once a radio host, he played me some interviews he'd done and told me stories about it all.

In the morning I got a shower and coffee in, then stood in the garage, which was now his bike shop. He tuned up his personal bike, a couple of his friends pedaled in waiting to get on the trail.

I got on my way back to the road. I got picked up by a couple heading to Wellington to see their daughter flying in for some soccer games.

They dropped me off at the big museum on the water. I wandered the floors looking at information on New Zealand's tectonic plates, ancient giants birds called moas and all sorts of other things.

I wandered the streets a bit more, then walked along the coast listening to a cannon firing off, then finally climbing a maze of a hill until I finally reached the house I was looking for, I saw Ben through the window.

Him and mandy were both home, along with a couchsurfer they were hosting. We caught up on things and soon took to computers, he had plenty of work to do and there was plenty things for me to catch up on. The next day was overcast and rainy at times, it was easy going inside and relaxing. I messed with different things online and we also talked about the sleeping bag / backpack / jacket idea I've been kicking around for a while now.

It was peaceful, their little place in the hill, overlooking the water. Chickens ran around the yard, I had a fresh egg along the way, and also some honey from the beehive out back. We also made chips and guacamole, tasty all and all.

The next day was nicer weather and I hiked into town, roaming a bit, reading in the library and going to the botanical gardens, then back to the library for a while before heading back towards evening. I got lost in the hills getting back, but finally made it for an easy evening of a couple beers, pasta and fooling with maps on the Trip Hopping site.

The next day would be the end of the north island and on to the south island. With the first geographic half of my New Zealand trip coming to a close, I was pretty happy with everything.