The Travelling Series
We flew to Auckland from Singapore on 8th October with both flights having gone as smoothly as they possibly could.
We then had one day to kill in Auckland before getting on our Stray bus tour around the North island.
My first impressions of New Zealand were through Auckland - it was chilly and could have been any old city in England. The river front was nice but, other than that, there was nothing special to look at. When we came further out into the suburbs, I got a feel of San Francisco with the hilliness and fancy multi-coloured housing. Then, as we ventured further from the city, I saw mountains and cabin-like housing which reminded me of my time in Calgary (Canada) - maybe Auckland was a little more interesting than I initially thought!
We were extremely jetlagged that day so we ended up mooching around the city, having a Nandos and then going to bed. I should mention that Nandos in New Zealand doesn't have Creamy Mash as a side, nor does it allow you refillable drinks. Disappointed is not the word.
The next day we got picked up by our Stray bus driver, Leftie, at the crack of dawn. Having not slept much of the night, I was looking forward to hopping on the bus and getting a nice bit of kip before the first stop. Wishful thinking, Katie.
We had to do an icebreaker on the bus where we sat down facing everyone at the front, put on Leftie's headset and explained a little bit about ourselves. I felt so ill from jetlag, I wanted to die. But I'm so glad we did that initial icebreaker because it forged an immediate bond between us all that became the foundation of some beautiful friendships!
I was so pleasantly surprised to learn that there was a lovely lady on the bus from Rothwell, which is very close to my hometown of Wakefield. There was also a funny American, the sweetest girls from Germany, a guitar player from Carlisle and a humble chef from the Midlands - amongst several other amazing people from all around the world.
The first stop was Raglan, a surfing town, where we stayed in a lodge overlooking the sea. We watched the sun go down on the inspiration point whilst eating fish and chips, which was a great way to start the Stray journey!
I remember thinking that if the rest of the trip was as good as that first day, then I was in for the trip of a lifetime!
To be continued...