This has been one of the more stressful weeks of my life, although as I have said to myself at least a thousand times, it’s all part of the adventure. This all began when Nate and I crashed at a friend’s place for two nights, only to unintentionally offend the host (still not sure what we did) and make a quick escape from the area. We appeared at a tumultuous time in that household, which of course makes for a stressful and awkward beginning of a trip. After our speedy departure from there, it was back to camping. Claudia and our new friend Kristina (who is part of the best Kiwi family ever) decided it was time we took a road trip for a few days up to Cape Reinga, far out in the North of the island.
The first leg of the journey was a three hour drive out to Whangarei from Auckland. We took a break at the local waterfall for a dip in the insanely warm waters, and to take a quick shower under the falls that Nate and I desperately needed. We all piled into Claudia’s car for another few hours of driving (and belting out songs at the top of our lungs on the drive) to end up at the Cape.
This was a truly phenomenal place. This edge of the island is where the Māori believe their spirits depart this world, and enter into the underworld. It also happens to be the meeting place of the Tasman and Pacific, which was incredible to see in itself. The two bodies of water are different colors, and the point between them is clearly visible as it snakes away into the turbulent waters off the coast. Spending sunset here at the lighthouse on the edge of the island, watching gulls and the slow sunset, was the most peaceful time I have had in this country thus far. There are some moments in which one cannot help but feel as if they are small. I think these are the moments that we must chase relentlessly so that we keep ourselves in perspective.
Following this 6+ hour drive up to Cape, we decided that a new adventure was in order on the way back down to Auckland. Our first stop off was at the massive sand dunes of Te Paki. This was one of the most visually odd places I have ever encountered. After driving through lush rolling fields for hours, we suddenly encountered what appeared to be a desert between the tree line and the ocean. The dunes here were huge, and a popular sandboarding place. Unfortunately we had no boards, but that didn’t stop us from walking out into the “desert” and leaping down the dunes for a while! Our excursion eventually had to end though, and the drive down south continued. We continued on to the mermaid pools (basically excessively large and deep tide pools) for a taste of ocean. We ended the day with another great night of talks, beer, and the incredible stargazing that New Zealand provides. This trip was a great distraction from the awkward position that we had left, yet there was still one problem that needed to be solved.
We needed accommodation. We needed a van.
Our worries have finally ended though! We are now in possession of a bright yellow, incredibly hippie, surfboard toting, 1990 Toyota Hiace. This absolute gem of a car has provided Nate and myself with not only a place to stay, but with two incredible new friends. Our new friends, the lovely German couple named Lasse and Marisa, sold us the van and camped with us for a few nights. We all got to know each other quite well, and bonded over stories, ping pong, and countless games of pool (one of which determined the price of the van). These two new friends left for their home country of Germany, and entrusted us with the care of their beloved Helios (now known as the Banana Van). Making friends (we consider each other distant family now) from all over the world, has been one of the greatest experiences thus far in New Zealand. No matter where you go in the world, people are people. We can always find ways to laugh together, bond over random things, and create memories together. Nate and I were sad to say goodbye to our new German family, yet are confident that one day we will see each other in one of our homes.
The board has been set for New Zealand. All the pieces are in place. All that is left for Nate and I to do is play the game.