I have booked myself on to the Stray Bus to tour the North and the South Islands and I wait patiently for the the fancy orange bus I have seen in all the literature. Unfortunatley they seem to have run out of the fancy orange buses and we get a mini bus that has frankly seen better days with a trailer behind for the luggage! At first I am disappointed and then I realise it will help us to bond if it breaks down. Our first stop in Hahei on the Coromandel which we get to via a small winding road through native bush. A big bus would never have got through here! Half way along our driver gets abused by a pig hunter....how exciting. Once at Hahei the driver took us to Purangi Winery for some wine tasting. I dont like wine but I was willing to taste it just to make sure that I didn't like it. There were some plum, passionfruit and honey liquors that I did like!! After a kind of one man comedy act by the owner, Dan, he invited us to help ourselves to Kiwi fruit off the vine which we did! Next stop was a walk at Cathedral Cove, our bus driver, James gave us directions and a map but somehow we still got lost almost immediately. We made our way down steep slippery banks and through prickly guaze until we stumbled across a proper walk way, and a group of Japanese tourists we had seen where we started just strolling along! I am sure our way was more exciting....extreme walking!
Back at the hostel we decided to cook a big meal which we had bought all the ingredients for during the day. James asked my advice on the pasta and I was actually able to help. In light of the fact that I had burnt some spaghetti a week before I am not sure I was the best person to ask but thankfully it worked out fine!
The following day we headed for Raglan a New Zealand surfers paradise, we were overtaken by several motorcycles which James liked to call Yamazukihondaha's. Raglan is a surf place so naturally I wanted another go at surfing. I was issued with a wetsuit (we are not in Hawai'i anymore) which I proceeded to put on. The instructor looked at me with such pity and said 'Oh, sorry you have got that on backwards', next I tried to get my leg in the arm hole before finally getting it on correctly.
Raglan was nice and chilled and if the bus arriving that day had enough takers the hostel would employ a chef 'Frano' to come and cook us all a meal. For every night I stayed there I crossed my fingers and prayed that the people arriving on that bus were as lazy as me when it came to cooking. I soon became friends with the people who were staying there long term Wendy, Wes, Stephan, Tim and Mark and had many a game of pool on the free pool table. I was so excited when I heard there was a free table until I saw it carefully levelled on piles of magazines and all the cues equally lacking in tips. Chalk was redundant and when you took a shot there was a reassuring 'clunk' as the cue hit the white.
After a couple of nights I went off in to the 'Big Smoke' (Hamilton) to visit a family I met in Fiji. Chris, Robyn, Ashley, Jacob and David made me very welcome by cooking a lovely roast chicken then plying me with as much alcohol as possible before whacking the stereo up full blast and dancing round the huge living room. I knew things were gonna get a whole lot worse when the Absynth came out, I had one and regretted it almost immediately...all this on a Wednesday night. Needless to say there were some sore heads the next day. I stayed a couple of nights and then went on to stay with Gregs brother and his wife, Rod and Lisa. Once again the night was fairly centred around alcohol, but I didn't mind....'tis the Kiwi way!
I returned to Raglan for the weekend which seemed to be one big party in honour of the fact Wendy was leaving to return to Ireland. Tim spent alot of time trying to kiss Martina (a German girl staying in my room) and Martina spent alot of time running away from him. Despite Marks best (if not drunk) efforts to persuade me to stay I am moving on. I am afraid that if I stay here much longer I too will be having Vodka for breakfast.
I have had my best hug since arriving in New Zealand from Frano when I said goodbye. He hugs like a bear!