Flashback: Home, To Where The Powder Is [en]

This is a flashback post, that is, it refers to a long-passed event, or contains content that was originally published through a different channel.
In this case it’s based on an e-mail I sent to a bunch of friends on 2008-06-25 from my trip to New Zealand.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Just a quick update this time, since my life has not been overly eventful recently. At least not in a positively exciting way.

P1: Tauranga – Sunset at a bay
P2: Tauranga – Scenic Walk by an Inlet

As mentioned, I spent autumn in Tauranga [P1][P2], which is in the Bay of Plenty on the North Island. In the beginning I was staying in a suburb called Mount Maunganui, right on the beach [P3][P4]. Many of the other hostel guests had surf boards, and some of them would lend one to me for an hour or two. Problem was, all of them were riding short boards, which are not exactly right for beginners. However, after a few days out I became good enough to catch a wave from time to time! I was really stoked it worked out so well, but admittedly it all depended on good wave conditions. Anyways, I guess I’m getting there…

Unfortunately I didn’t do as much surfing as I had hoped to do. First of all, Mount Maunganui does not have great condition all year round — the water got fucking cold soon and we had heaps of flat days and weeks. Also, I moved away from the beach after a few weeks, because of my new job…

P3: Mount Maunganui – Afternoon at the Beach
P4: Mount Maunganui – The Surf Beach

By that of course I mean my employment at the new hamburger bistro called Wünder Burger [P5]. As the place only just opened, I spent my first two weeks with occasional building and painting jobs and helping to figure out how to grill good burgers. However, once we opened the place a few weeks later I actually liked the food we were selling quite a lot! I had at least one burger, panini, or sandwich each shift. So once I’m back home I’ll be the burger man at every BBQ!

Wünder Burger was still quite a new place, and while we were quite busy at lunch time, at dinner time, and late night on weekends, most of the time the job was pretty boring. I was tending the place all alone most of the time, a big contrast to the busy bar I used to work at in Queenstown (QT), where I always had nice colleagues around.

P5: Wünder Burger

But the worst trouble I had during my stay in Tauranga was definitely related to my van. I’ve had problems with it before, but things kept getting worse and worse. First, one day when I wanted to drive to work, the drive shaft simply broke. (That’s a big solid metal bar connecting the engine to the wheels!) I waited a few weeks till I had more money to fix it and I spent another two weeks calling and visiting several wreckers to find an appropriate spare part.

Next, it turned out the battery had finally given up and I had to buy a new one. Moreover, I had to obtain a new Warrant Of Fitness for the van. While there were no severe problems to it, there were lots of small fixes to do before the van could pass the recheck. In the end all of this cost me a lot of time and money, and kept me busy until my last day in Tauranga!

As you may know, this was the first car I ever owned, and I really hated all the hassle related to it. Luckily I don’t need a car back home in Munich!

Due to all that trouble I did not do all the weekend trips I had planed. In the end I had to skip the Taranaki peninsula (with its impressive volcano) and Northland (anything north of Auckland).

However, I did go to Raglan, a lovely little town on the west cost, surrounded by probably the most beautiful scenery in all of New Zealand [P6]. Since it was also featured in the legendary “Endless Summer” movie I was expecting great surf there, but unfortunately I just hit some down-days. One afternoon we had some half-meter waves at least, so I grabbed the biggest rental board they had — about 9 feet. It turned out to be one of my best surfing days ever, the waves being small but nicely shaped and pretty constant. And with that huge board, I caught almost every single wave!

[Update: I should mention that Raglan has these great backpackers, two of the best I’ve ever stayed at in NZ. Also, they have Denise now:) ]

P6: Reglan – Manu Bay

The only other place I visited recently was Auckland [P7][P8], from were I was flying back to the South Island. A nice city, although I could not make out any killer sights. Being a fan of tall buildings, I liked the Sky Tower, but other than that the city center seems rather mediocre. However, Auckland is situated in a remarkable landscape with lots of hills (ancient volcanoes) and is situated in between several bays — the ocean is never far.

Unfortunately I spent the first 3 days in Auckland trying to sell that damn van. In the end I succeeded to get rid of it for a ridiculously low price — it’s just not the right season to sell backpacker vans. The rest of my days in Auckland were tainted with a really nasty cold I caught shortly before leaving Tauranga. So I could not enjoy much of the city and its nightlife.

P7: Auckland – Skyline by the Pier
P8: Auckland – Skyline with Marina and Sky Tower

I still felt pretty weak when I came back to QT, but it was really good to be back “home”. Five minutes after getting off the bus I already had my first free drink at my old and new workplace, The World Bar. The next day we were invited to a Drink Safe Workshop. by the local police authorities. Appropriately we had a staff party the same night, with lots of free food and drinks! The day after, I finally picked up work… sweet as!

However, some aspects of coming home to QT were slightly disappointing. The weather for instance: after my QT mates had already reported heaps of snow about a month ago, all of it melted away just the weekend before I arrived. The local ski resort has only been open for about one week and is currently closed until further notice. Well, right now it seems to improve, as it’s getting pretty cold again and it may be snowing during the next few days. If I’m lucky I’ll have my first snowboarding day by the end of the week:-) I’ll keep you up to date about the season…

Keep on ridin’,
Michael

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