Well, we finally have a rainy day here in Sydney (my last full day, natch) and I'm back on the computer to try and update my blog. Only now do I discover that the main state library (5 mins walk from my hostel) had free e-mail all along (blogging is classified as e-mail, it would seem - and is therefore blocked on certain computers). It was right under my nose. And to think I had been walking for half-an-hour each time I wanted to use a computer for e-mail/blogging. D'oh.
It is also really quite cold too (for Sydney at least - that means low 20s) so it's quite nice to be inside for a change. He goes...
Friday 23rd February 2007
It was a quiet morning in Napier (I'm not sure the town does any other sort of morning). I walked to the beach and around the town... still enjoying the sunny (and warm!) weather, popping into the library to avoid the midday sun and catch up on the news (courtesy of every available regional newspaper in New Zealand - they don't really do nationals here, like they do at home). I also started researching my trip to Sydney and even managed to book a hostel at the first attempt.
After lunch I went back to the beach to lounge around in the sun. It's just a shame that the currents off the beach make swimming dangerous, as it was so hot that a dip in the brine wouldn't have been out of the question. Alas, I had to make do with paddling and getting covered in salt spray from the huge breakers pounding the shore.
I had an interesting evening chatting to a trainee wine-maker from France. He was a really nice chap who spends his time following the seasons (and the sun) around the world. So far he has worked at wineries in France, Italy, Australia and New Zealand. And I think he's heading to South America next winter... Nice work if you can get it, although by all accounts very poorly paid and really difficult to find without a huge chunk of experience behind you.
Saturday 24th February 2007
It had rained overnight and although it had stopped by the time I woke up, it was still overcast. It was therefore a morning of internet and laundry (that classic backpacker combination - I'm surprised no-one has come up with an internet launderette [interneterette? launderinternet?]).
In the afternoon I was hoping to have taken one of the hostel bikes (of the cycling variety) to go and visit some of the vineyards in the Hawke's Bay area. Unfortunately all the bikes were already in use, so I had to content myself with a walk along the coastal promenade instead. The weather was a bit duff (as was some of the heavy industry along the shoreline). All in all, a rather dull walk (apart from being menaced briefly by a fierce-looking dog), but still, nice to be out in the fresh air.
I was rather pooped come evening, so it was a quiet night. Shower, food, bed (well, the latter should read "roll-mat-in-tent" - which I am rather afraid has developed a slow puncture, judging by the apparent hardness of the ground come morning).
Sunday 25th February 2007
My final day in Napier was one of pootling. I read the Sunday papers at the library in the morning, had a leisurely lunch and then went to the beach in the afternoon. The weather was once again warm and sunny, so it was nice to enjoy it and take it easy.
The only excitement of the day came in the evening, when upon entering my tent I caught my head (ever so slightly - I'm sure it was no more than a gentle bushing) on the door frame, which somehow resulted in one of the tent poles snapping in two. Ooops. I was just debating what to do (luckily it was dry and no rain was forecast - so I'd have been quite happy using my tent as an over-sized bivvy-bag), when an oldish English couple (who had been around the hostel whole time, but who I'd so far largely managed to avoid) came to my rescue. They mustered some parcel tape and a section of aluminium piping from somewhere, which they used to brace the broken pole ("he's an engineer you know"). They were very kind, albeit in a weirdly-nervy, slightly-patronising and very-odd-looking kind of way. He looked like a cross between Mr. Law and Lord Lucan (read: most odd), with a 'tache (massive) that was bigger than his shorts (minute). Very short shorts really should be outlawed by all governments (there's an election winner if ever there was one). If they take objection to a dirty tent at customs, then surely they could easily confiscate a pair of indecently short shorts.
Monday 26th February 2007
I spent the morning packing up my stuff (discovering in the process that my tent repair kit contained a section of aluminium tubing specifically for the repair of snapped tent poles. D'oh). It was once again hot and sunny... bolstering Napier's claims of being the sunniest place in the country (and most of the populations' claims that February is the best month for settled weather).
The afternoon's bus journey was rather boring (it didn't really look much different in reverse) and it got progressively cloudier as I approached Wellington. The bus driver kindly dropped us off at the hostel, however, which saved a 20 minute walk laden with bags.
It was quite late when I arrived in Wellington, and my empty-belly-situation was compounded by the fact that upon entering my dormitory I was talked at for about 45 minutes by an Indian student with an impossibly strong accent ("say it again"). I finally made it down to the kitchen just before 9pm and was rewarded for my patience with a fantastic haul of free food. Yay.
Tuesday 27th February 2007
More free food this morning (departure points are always good for reaping what other people have cast asunder prior to leaving) This included a barely-started bottle of $20 Pinot Noir and assorted other goodies. Yay again, with knobs on.
I went to Te Papa in the morning (New Zealand's National Museum), where I was only really impressed by the art-gallery section (including an especially beautiful work made from disassembled fruit crates - and no, I'm not being sarcastic). The building itself is a monstrous postmodernist mish-mash (talk about over-egging the pudding). If they were aiming for the Guggenheim-effect, then they must be sorely disappointed. Still, I suppose it could be seen as an interesting commentary on contemporary New Zealand (although even through my overly-critical eyes I wouldn't go quite so far as to call New Zealand a "monstrous post-modern [post-colonial] mish-mash").
After that amount of culture (yawn) it was time for a boozy lunch, courtesy of a couple of glasses of the free Pinot. Yum.
I spent the afternoon reading on the beach/waterfront (more sun - hooray) before meeting up with Victoria in the evening for a goodbye drink in a couple of Wellington's nice bars.
Wednesday 28th February 2007
I went back to Te Papa in the morning (only really because they offered free luggage storage there, whereas the hostel would have charged $3). And free newspapers too - bonus. I had a closer look at a few of the exhibits and wasn't really all that impressed by very much. Bah humbug!
I then got the bus to the airport and completed the final leg of my journey through New Zealand. Goodbye Kiwiland, Australia here I come...
Well, that seems an appropriate place to leave it for now. Just two weeks in Sydney to update (which have flown by - and have been filled with all manner of good things) and I'll be there. I might even make some further headway later this arvo, but want to head out and get some fresh air right now (since it appears to have stopped raining - unless it is waiting for me to poke my head out of the door before emptying down, that is).
Cheerio for now,