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Last Days in New Zealand

2010 August 10
by rob

March 11, 2009

Today was my last day in Dunedin. I was taking a coach to Christchurch in the afternoon, so I had many hours to kill. After waking up I finished packing so that I could check out of my room. My pack was so light now!! It weighed only 13 kg. Finally, I was back on track for travelling light.

Today was the coldest, rainiest and windiest day that I experienced in New Zealand. It was merely 5ºC, and only -2ºC with the wind chill. Later, I learned that it was actually snowing in the hills outside Dunedin. YUCK. Summer was really finished on the South Island. I think it was a sign that it was time for me to go.

During a break in the rain, I rushed over to Modak’s Café for more good coffee. They played pretty excellent music last time I was there. They were playing some kind of reggae music today, which I didn’t abhor as much as I used to. I think going to Fiji and riding on the Whitesnake bus cured me of that. Some of it was pretty listenable, too. It always reminds me of the Rastas in Neuromancer, which I was craving to read again. I was out of the book trading business now, though. I picked up Idoru (also by William Gibson) from the bookshelf in Hogwartz. With the other three books I picked up at the used book store, I had four books to read over the last few weeks of my trip. All these books would go back to Canada and sit on my own bookshelf.

After the café I talked to my mother and father on the phone for a while before walking over to a Japanese restaurant with the intent of getting more okonomiyaki. As I walked into the place and was scanning the menu, the waitress came over and touched my arm. It was the cute Japanese girl who was making cupcakes in the hostel kitchen the day before. I chatted with her for a while. Her name was Yuko and she was from Osaka. She didn’t like Osaka because it was too busy and there were too many people there. She said that she like New Zealand a lot and would try to stay there. Good luck Yuko!

It seems that lots of people had come to Dunedin to try and find work. Aurelie, my French roommate in the hostel, was supposed to go to interviews at some recruiter today.

For lunch, I had Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki for the first time. It seemed to use less batter and more cabbage than the Kansai-style okonomiyaki that I was used to. There was also a fried egg on top! Yummy! I’m sorry I didn’t take a picture of it.

After lunch I returned to the hostel and picked up my pack. I caught the bus in front of the train station. For the first part of the six hour bus trip I chatted with the driver and the old lady in the front of the bus with me. Later, I got bored with that and just listened to my iPod. The bus a couple short breaks in both Oamaru and Timaru. Oamaru is famous for its penguins, which I could see when I gazed across the harbour. They were far away and small. I did not get a good picture of them.

Also in Oamaru, I had my last meat pie in New Zealand. I guess I had a lot of them, but my favourites were the big farmer’s pie I had in Waitomo and the venison one I had in Te Anau. NEW ZEALAND, I MISS YOUR PIES.

I got into Christchurch a few minutes ahead of schedule and walked quickly to my hostel, Foley’s Towers (the place I stayed at the first time I was in Christchurch). I wanted to get there before the office closed at 9 PM. I helped a sick guy carry his heavy bag to his room and the office lady gave me my bed linens for free, saving me NZ$5. Sweet!

I quickly walked over to Dux de Lux pub to attend Stefan van Georg’s birthday extravaganza (whom I had originally met in Fiji, but ran across a couple more times in New Zealand). I had the Blue Duck beer (it was quacktastic) and the tasty nachos that Inna Friend enjoyed so much the last time we were here. Stefan was working at some software development job that he wasn’t enjoying. Some of his coworkers were there, too. There were two Canadians. One of them, Barbara, was born in Woodstock (just like me!) but grew up in Tillsonburg before moving to Toronto. She says she didn’t like Toronto — it was too busy and there were too many people. She didn’t like the hipsters, either. I guess that’s why she was in New Zealand now!

There was an Israeli girl there who was shocked that I could pick out her nationality. By this point in my trip, I had seen so many Israelis that I could identify them with ease. When she asked me if I could speak any other languages I said “Polish”. Very stunned, she asked me, “Why?” That stunned me! It’s my belief that it’s always helpful to know more languages. Apparently, her father was Polish, but moved to Israel and only spoke Hebrew now. Their viewpoint was that your former language was useless once you moved to Israel. That’s quite an arrogant attitude, I think.

It ended up being a fun night since, even though I was hanging out with tourists, we didn’t discuss much touristy garbage. Why didn’t I go out drinking and partying with people more often? I had been such a loner lately. Hopefully I would find fun people in the Cook Islands. I didn’t really know what to expect when I got there. I always had different experiences on all the islands I visited.

We visited another pub (the Vespa Bar) after Dux de Lux, but I didn’t stay there long before I got bored and returned to my hostel. Thankfully, I didn’t have to sleep on any bunk beds, but I did discover that I had a snorer in my room. I didn’t sleep very well that night. It didn’t help that I had to keep getting up to pee. Stupid beer!

March 12, 2009 – The First Time

Today was my last full day in New Zealand. I was flying to the Cook Islands tomorrow. Since I was crossing the International Date Line, I was going to experience both March 12 and March 13 two times. Today was the first instance of March 12, 2009.

Since today was going to be my last day in a city for the next two weeks, today was mostly a “taking care of business” day. I did a whole lots of things:

  • I discussed Canadian and Kiwi politics with my old man Kiwi roommate: Murray.
  • I did my laundry.
  • Made lots of phone calls back to Canada in an attempt to consume the rest of the credit on my mobile.
  • Went back to C1 Espresso Café for creamy kumara and pumpkin soup and Red African Fire tea.
  • Worked on my journal.
  • Bought a new travel towel. I seem to have lost my other one in Dunedin.
  • I went shopping for flip flops but didn’t find anything I wanted. It was the end of the season and the selection was scarce.
  • Wrote lots of emails using the internet in the hostel. It was only NZ$3 an hour! So cheap!
  • Called the Australian Consulate in Auckland to see if I would have problems transferring through Sydney. They assured me that I’d have no problems. I’ll write more about this particular adventure later.
  • Met up with Stefan again for dinner at a crappy Mexican place. This would be the last time I’d meet up with him.
  • By the time I got back to my room at 6 PM, it was party over for me. My American old man roommate (how come there were so many old men in this backpacker’s hostel? Weird) was listening to Feist’s “The Reminder’ on a wee stereo. That made me happy. He was talking to some woman from Montreal. We discovered that we had been to the same Arcade Fire concert in Montreal on May 12, 2007. They went out for dinner and I stayed behind, listening to Feist. I packed up my stuff and set my alarm for 5:50 AM so I could make it to the airport. I went to bed at 10 PM.

    Rob Szumlakowski
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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