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A brief shot of Northland

Tucked in this valley North of Towai, is the first farm I stayed on.

A harbor near Opua, i the Bay of Islands.

Mark, the macadamia farmer, after diving for scallops. He is measuring them and throwing back the small ones. By law you can only keep scallops of more than about 4 inches wide. If you’re caught with smaller ones,  your boat is confiscated permanently.

Great day for sailing on the Bay Of Islands.

Stuff goin on

Update
I went up north as planed, to a farm in Towai, a town consisting of a hotel and bar. The family there were nice, but could have been warmer. Nevertheless, they treated me well and cooked great food from the garden. My main job there was putting up the new fence; pain staking work, but I was happy to see it finished. During my ten days there I went sailing twice in the Bay of Islands. It was quite beautiful, and great to be out on the water. My farm host dived for scallops, and we ate some fresh out of the shell. They tasted strongly of the sea (of course) but fantastic sashimi quality! The second trip was a sailing race around the bay. We had to drop out after both front sails failed, one after the other. There was lots of yelling and water and pulling things. I enjoyed myself thoroughly, but I felt bad for the guy who owned the boat. I moved to a different farm near Hikurangi, a town that you can actually see. The family there were much nicer and I had a good time chasing cows driving the quad bike and assisting with freezer installation (the farmers other job). While I was “helping” with a chiller once, I got to help the customer with collecting the velvet antlers from his dear farm. They use a hacksaw, it was more bloody that I expected, but no worse than gutting the possum at the last place. Possums by the way are not like ours, they are a highly destructive invasive species from Australia, and are killed on sight.
From Northland I took a bus to Coromandel peninsula (seriously, look at a map). I came to the namesake town in the region…. Which was as small and boring as a wannabe tourist town with only three streets can be. But sense it was raining and I had nothing to do, and feeling somewhat lost without a plan, or more importantly a car to use in that plan, I stayed in a hostel for three days. By the time the rain stopped, I had met many friendly people, including two young Germans who offered me a ride to the fun side of coromandel. They took the scenic rout, and we hiked to a water fall and a kauri tree grove along the way. Chris and Lena are awesome. They travel spontaneously, and with room in the car I stowed along for about five days all the way down to New Plymouth, where we are now. I’ll post later about what we did, as to not lengthen this extensively. Now in New Plymouth, again at a hostel for a few days; although I enjoy some down time, I’m finding out that I get restless if I don’t have something else to move to. I don’t so much need something to be set up, as just being able to set something up. If I can’t see possibilities ahead of me, I loose ambition. Thankfully I’ve just found my next move: doing a work stay up the coast a ways until Xmas. And today I did some moving in the pub downstairs from the hostel in exchange for a free night, score 🙂
My family might be coming to NZ for Xmas, so I have no idea what I’ll be doing then, but after the holidays I will definitely get a fruit picking job, and make some cash.
I’m having a good time, and NZ is a nice place, but it’s not crazy and new and exciting everyday. After being here a month, it feels like normal life somedays. Hanging with Chris and Lena, and meeting so many other travelers has been one of the best parts so far, and I will try to keep doing a lot of my trip this way.

Auckland City Sky Line

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Possessions

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This is the contents of my backpack, and therefor my life of the road. Some clothes for work, and socializing; hiking boots, chucks; a tent, sleeping bag & mat; other camping stuff like a pot + spoon, knife, lighter, head lamp. Then all the passport, visa, work stay listings, international drivings license, guidebook and everything.
I have already added and lost some things. And I’m realizing what I actually needed to take.
I might thin it out a little if I end up walking a lot, cause the pack is heavy as shit.

A good taste for curry

The good thing about couch surfing go along with the norms of the people you stay with.

I have stayed with two East Indians and they have each made me great curry. The seccond one introduced me to Paradise. It is the best indian food I can remember eating, and I have had a lot in my time!

In New Zealand and other news

Hello friends, here is an over due update…
I left off on Maui, in Oct. since then I have mad it to New Zealand, but let’s start from the top.
I celebrated halloween with my aunt and uncle by going to Front Street in La’haina. The street is blocked off, and it’s essentially a huge costume block party to show off your halloween swag. There you could see anything. From Aladdin’s Jeannie in full blue body paint, to a pack of howler monkeys, to the smallest lingerie allowed, to tetras pieces, and even Occupy the North Poll elves. If you’re dressed up, you are part of the “in crowd” and our fairly easy costumes got praise along side the most elaborate. If you don’t dress up, you are a tourist, sadly taking pictures on the side lines. I’m glad I had the hook up, haha.
I went back to La’haina later, which is a nice little town, with a lot of good art galleries, a good vibe, and a cool body art shop with a cool girl that offered me scuba lessons if i return. Hawaii has a laid back do whatever lifestyle, and I spent a fair amount of time falling into that… And eating the best papaya I have ever seen! The fresh papayas there have at least three extra levels of fruity, sweet flavor, and even a tint of rose. I can never go back to the orange chunks of fiber we have back mainland.
All in all I had a great time, and checked some other island specific activities like hiking around the creator of Haleakala volcano, and snorkeling again, this time at black rock in Ka’anapoli. Finally on the 4th I flew to Honolulu, but not before picking up a local treat of spam musubi. In Honolulu, before my next flight, I had a long conversation with an ex-American Kiwi local who gifted me $30 to start my trip.

That night I made the 8 hour flight (crossing the international date line, with it loosing the 5th entirely) and landed in Auckland, NZ!
My general plan of existence is traveling without paying for shelter. One main way of doing that is “Couch Surfing,” where local people open their homes to travelers to stay. To get a really good idea of how this can come about, look at http://www.couchsurfing.org
My first couch host, Sid, was extremely nice. He picked me up at the airport, fed me, and made me feel at home.
He happened to be Maori, who are the native polynesians, so I got a different feel for that side of the culture. I have stayed with two other surf hosts since then, and they have all been nice. It’s lucky that I’ve found good places to stay even when it’s been late notice. I talked to a backpacker in town that has been squatting for the last few nights.

I’ve now been in Auckland for 11 days, and with no intention of discrediting it, I am done. Auckland is NZs biggest city (1.5 M people) and not a bad one. But for a traveler who craves activity or is on a budget, I feel restless and tired of spending money.
In general, however, I have had a nice time. Since arriving I’ve gotten a hair cut, explored the city and water front, went to the very nice museum filled with Maori artifacts and volcanic science, been to a few nice places to eat and drink, and met some very nice people. One thing I haven’t done is have some proper fish ‘n chips, not sure how that’s happened?
My next objective is implementing an even better tactic for not spending money: Work Stays. Work stays are the same as “WWOOFing” (for more info google this). It is where farms that are whiling take in travelers who agree to work about 4 hours a day in exchange for room & board. The first farm I’m going to is a macadamia tree orchard, and is located in “Northland” the thin part of the north island sticking straight up from Auckland. Note- it may be interesting to check out NZ on google maps/world while you’re on here. as soon as I figure out transportation I’ll head up there. On the subject, my main option in a bus pass, although I might try hitch hiking. I’ve talked to a few backpackers who have had great luck with it, and New Zealand is probably one of the safest places to try.
That’s my life so far. Hopefully I’ll be able to update occasionally, but I can’t predict my internet access. Bye for now.

The Pink Caps

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Me with my aunt and uncle’s master group, the pink caps. They swam for an hour and a half (and around two miles)… I chilled on the beach.