Feb 11- 13
On my own again, I exploit Jan’s kindness and crash at his place for a few days to get organized and decide where next and how. See, the problem is, when one wants to travel around New Zealand in the busiest month of the season without planning at least a month aforehand, one has a tiny problem. Therefore, four domestic flights cost me almost more than the return flight Bangkok – Mexico. Weather in Auckland is hideous, so I don’t really do much except seeing the War Memorial Museum on one afternoon (which is totally worth a visit, it is an interesting mix of natural history, paleontology, Maori culture and the highlight is definitely a room that simulates what is going to happen when a volcano erupts. Awesome!).
I also explore Auckland’s food scene, and although many restaurants have the problem of overdoing things, as of February 2017, these places are definitely worth trying (just remember, be early. After 8.30, you are really pushing it): Depot, Ortolana and the adjacent dessert joint Milse (I am not much into sweet stuff, but this place is awesome), also check out restaurants in Ponsonby Central . The routine is pretty much the same everywhere all across the country: “all our dishes are designed to be shared and bla bla bla…” which is very thoughtful of you, but you’d look less stupid if you avoided repeating this mantra to solo diners.
Just before Eva left, we managed to check out Auckland’s hottest gelato joint, Giapo. It’s definitely a high quality ice-cream, but a little pretentious. You need to queue to be served, because your gelato-specialist needs to explain to you how everything works. Are you after two scoops of honest ice-cream? Not gonna happen. You don’t even get to see the stuff. You will be explained what cone goes with what flavour and what coating, you get to taste some samples from a mini fridge at the counter, you will end up ordering something because after all that attention it seems rude not to and then your order will be brought to you. I ended up with avocado ice-cream coated in roasted sesame seeds and seasoned with soya sauce. Sounds hipster? That’s exactly what it is.
Feb 14 – 16
I want to get out off my kind host’s hair and even though the weather keeps being horrible, I decide to move on to Waiheke Island for a couple of days. It’s definitely the best thing about living in Auckland. Just 40 minutes ferry ride away, there is a beautiful tropical island full of vineyards. The ferry leaves every half an hour from the harbour. Most people will stay in the biggest settlement of the island, Oneroa, I booked the accommodation in the village of Onetangi (some 2 hours walk away), with the intention to rent a scooter or a bicycle, which would be normally possible quite conveniently just off the ferry terminal, if I did not leave my credit card at Jan’s, which means I’m on foot/public transport. Fortunately the island’s public buses times match the ferries’ arrivals and departures, so no drama. There are only two restaurants in the village (of which only one is open in the evening), a little dairy and a liquor store (thank God). I struggle a little to get a table in the restaurant, cause it’s St. Valentine’s and the place is packed with couples who pretend to be having romantic dinners while staring at their respective phones. Why do people bother? I am so glad I don’t have to put up with this nonsense. I get a few pitiful stares (apparently 14th February is also the international singles awareness day, as if being single should be something to raise awareness about, like Alzheimer’s disease or prostate cancer), but I am certain I am better off dining with my book compared to 90 % of the other guests, who may have a dining companion, but barely speak, let alone share a laugh.
I wake up to a magnificent morning, put on my hiking shoes and walk around most of the island’s beaches, through some beautiful native forests, find a beautiful secluded nudist beach and spend a few hours there. Nudism in New Zealand is no different to Europe: everybody is either over 60, or gay, or German. I reach Onoroa beach by early evening, buy some fish and chips and eat them on the beach while watching the sun setting over the horizon. Very much Kiwi style. My ex boyfriend was right, I have to admit: fish and chips are much better in New Zealand than in the UK. Also, the seagulls are better behaved and less aggressive. I want to leave Waiheke on friday afternoon to meet the guys at Jan’s after the office hours, and even though I had planned to go on another hike, I end up spending the day on the nudist beach again. I guess I just struggle to keep my clothes on.
On the following day, me, Jan and Ben are due for a little roadtrip to Rotorua and National Park.