Things learnt so far…Cheese rolls are a south island speciality. Fairy bread is a children’s birthday party classic, despite only consisting of buttered bread and hundreds and thousands. New Zealand has the oldest break dancing crew in the world ‘hip op-eration’. North&South is an excellent monthly magazine.
Since arriving I have been staying in Mount Maunganui on the Bay of Plenty with friends Suzie and Adam, who have very generously lent me their living room floor to sleep on. Suzie’s also lent me her clothes as my rucksack still hasn’t arrived from the UK having been lost by Air India…hopefully now it’s on its way (I’d recommend Pack & Send if you ever need to import/export personal effects from NZ!).
Suzie and Adam have also given me a rapid introduction to New Zealand adventure activities, as within a week I’ve attended a fitness boot camp, had my first surfing lessons with Travis from Hibiscus surf school, learnt how to Kayak in a straight line with help of Estelle and Dave at Canoe and Kayak (Estella also spent half an hour annotating my New Zealand Map with the best places to go!), attempted to mountain bike in Whakarewarewa forest, and done my first ‘tramp’ in the Kauaeranga Valley on the Coromandel Peninsular. I’ve also had the best fish and chips EVER at Bobby’s fresh fish market restaurant, only $4 and it was amazing! (about £2).
Terrifyingly, Adam and Suzie have also signed me up to the Whangamata Adventure Race this weekend, although fortunately we’re only in the 6 hour category, which amusingly you’re only allowed to ‘win’ if you’re of primary school age. Epic.
As for climbing, things have been off to a slow start but are beginning to pick up. There’s what looks like some good climbing on Mount Maunganui itself, but tracking down partners was difficult at first. Fortunately, after a second session at the rock gym, I met Benni and Marx who are planning a session tomorrow morning. I’ve also purchased the beautiful guidebook, ‘Rock deluxe north’ as although you can get most topos for free from the national route database, it’s useful to have it all in one place with a good editorial overview. I’ve also spent a few hours on the New Zealand find-a-buddy Alpine Club forum, and from doing some research have found quite a few potential partners for some pre-Christmas mountaineering….I think the seasonal job may be put on hold in favour buying a car and heading round the top South Island spots.