Check out these crazy Canucks in NZ ripping down the Bombay Hills on SH (State Highway)1. I guess this group of long-boarders is on a world tour promoting long-board manufacturing company Landyachtz, based in Vancouver. These guys are nuts! One guy drafts a transport truck and trailer and then bombs past it, catching his buddy who is riding with no helmet or shoes ahah. If they were to crash, carnage would follow.
Dont worry mom, I will not be trying this. Im sticking with bikes!
Mission Bay Marae
On the weekend Michelle and I attended one of her aunts friends kids 1st birthday party, who happens to be moari. They held the party at a Maraei at mission beach in Auckland. It was a pretty big gathering! FYI: The marae is a communal ceremonial centre where meetings and ceremonies take place in accordance with traditional protocols. The marae symbolises group unity and generally consists of an open grassed area in front of a large carved meeting house, along with a dining hall and other facilities necessary to provide a comfortable stay for visiting groups. On the marae official functions take place including formal welcomes, celebrations, weddings, christenings, tribal reunions, and tangihanga (funerals). The older people have the authority on the marae, and they impart to the young people traditions and cultural practices including legends, songs or the arts of weaving or carving.
Detailed carvings on the marea
All of the carving that is done to a marea is done by someone in the family.
The birthday party wasn’t in the Maraie, but in a hall beside the Maraie. Like any birthday party there were heaps of kids running around, balloons, presents and generations of the family. I was lucky enough to be shown around by a family member of that explained the customs and beliefs. It was quiet interesting. There was a lot of food; steaks, sausage, salads, sweets, pasta and I could go on and on but you get the point. I found it really interesting how this culture takes care of itself. The provide housing for the elders, whose families have moved away so they don’t have to leave the community, housing is passed down from generation to generation and there is a real sense of what’s mine is yours. They are planning to build apartments so more locals can stay within the community and do not have to move away. The land settlement has been challenged, but it will remain in the hands of the maori people I believe. From what Ive read in the 80’s the maori people pretty much just took the land. One day they a staged a protest/sit in and never left, claiming it was there land. Hell, Im sure it was as they were here a long time before any white folk. It is an amazing piece of land they have – pretty stretches on to the ocean, lots of green space and you have to be a family member to live their. You can really see the similarities between the indigenous people of NZ and of Canada; they way the governments in the past have treated them is very similar and quiet sad/embarrassing also the struggles and sterotypes they face today.
The Church in the centre square in Christchurch
This road trip has been a test. This morning I was awakened by the fire alarm and a sound over the speakers saying “there is a fire, please exit the building” Yah another WTF moment ahahaha. I really wasnt too concerned – maybe I should have been but i just tossed on my jeans and sweater, grab my wallet and passport (made sure to close the coat zipper), put my toque on and slipped on my 5-10′s and I exited the building.
Once outside you could tell who was the panicked guests were – ppl were streaming out in there underwear and pj’s with a look of terror on their faces. The hotel staff were handing out towels to those with little clothing on to keep them warm. It was about +5, windy and rainy. I was fine – I was dressed and had my rain jacket. I personally thought it was hilarious. There were these asian travellers who packed all of their luggage and brought it with them. I thought myself getting dressed was good enough, but these travellers were struggling down stairs with there suit cases, clothes hanging out of them, their hair dryers in hand. ahaha Idiots! I only really cared that I had some clothing on, my wallet and passport. In the end someone just burnt there hair blow drying it and it set off the alarm ahaha Hilarious!
Since I was up and grabbed a coffee and by the time I got back to the hotel everyone was back in the building. This work road trip is awesome! ahahah I wonder what will happen in Queenstown?
Mussels at the Occidetal
Saturday night was the start of the Stienlager Cup, which is a tournment with the All Blacks, England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. They were playing Ireland and by playing I mean kicking their ass! Michelle is a fan so we decided to go out and watch the game at one of her favourite bars – The Occidental which is a Belgium beer bar! They are known for beer and mussel pots and for good reason! Absolutely delicious. Ive never had mussels before and I am now a fan! The place was packed with fans and it was a great time! The final score was 66-28 – not even close – but fun none the less.
I don’t think I mentioned this before, but I will be hitting up an All Blacks game with Michelle through IEP New Zealand. IEP and Stray Travel are joining forces to take participants to the Welsh vs. All Blacks game in Hamilton. For $55 you get transport to and from the game, pizza and a sausage – sweet! Another thing checked off the to do list!!!
Today I was up at about 6:00am as Amy and I had to head off early to Hamilton for a career fair at the University of Waikato. Ive only heard negative things about Hamilton or as a lot of locals call it the Tron. Well it lived up to it. What a boring hole of a place. The career fair was brutal, very slow traffic and the uni kids really didn’t seem to interested. I guess they all want to stay in Hamilton. It kind of reminded me of being in Palmy – another place to skip if you are visiting NZ.
After the fair Amy and I checked into our accommodation, The Victoria Suites. What a shit hole. It was cold, drafty and all under construction. The room was huge, but that didn’t help when trying to warm it up with one little ass heater! So far the Tron has not impressed!
At the harbour in Wellington
Today is the start of my 3-week road trip with IEP. I met my co-worker Amy at the Auckland Airport at 9am and we caught a 9:30 flight to Wellington. The flight was only an hour and relatively smooth. There was a little turbulence coming into Wellington as it was pretty windy, but that is Wellington though – windy as hell! It is a really pretty and hilly city a long the coast. There are houses scattered all along the hills banks. I definitely would like to go back to Wellington for a weekend to see the city. From what ive read and heard it has a really artsy vibe. I guess a lot of movies are shot in the area and the mayor wanted to put a sign up on the hill – Wellywood – a play on Hollywood. Thankfully the people of Wellington opposed and the idea was quickly kyboshed. Amy and I caught a shuttle to a rental car depot and then started off to off to Palmerston North for the info session in the evening. The drive down was great. It’s a long the coastline and you get a great view of the ocean and surrounding hills. The weather was a little gloomy but still provided great views. It took about 2 hours to get to Palmy. We then checked into our hotel, grab a bite to eat, checked our work emails and prepared for the evenings info session. The info session went ok – I talked up Canada of course. There wasn’t a huge turn out, but for Palmy I guess it was good. This maybe foreshadowing for tomorrows job fair.
It was a great day and it was nice to see a bit of the country. The views are as always, impressive! Tomorrow we are working a career fair at Massey University and then we drive back to Wellington for an info session their and our first career fair of the trip. Stoked!
40,000 New Zealanders turned up to protest against the governments decision to mine on conservation land.
Today there was a protest right out front of my place. A 40,000-person protest! The NZ Government announced plans to open 7058 hectares of protected conservation land and marine reserves for mining. They say the value of resources underground could be $140 billion. The protest blocked Queen St for almost 2 hours and I really couldn’t believe the turn out. The last time I was at an event like this was when I bussed from Ontario to Quebec back in the 90’s for the Canada rally when Quebec wanted to separate. There was such a range of people at this event. From the dread-locked hippies, parents with their kids, couples, old folks – pretty much anyone and everyone. Everyone marched from the base of Queen St to Mayers Park where there was speeches and music. I read that over 50% of the countries population opposes the mining, so hopefully the message will get through to the government to not mine conservation land. It was quite an amazing event and I am glad that I got to take part in it. New Zealand has a really green image and hopefully they will keep it.
After the protest Michelle and I hit up the Auckland War Memorial Museum. It was huge and had lots to see. There was heaps of info on the south pacific culture, there musical past, artwork, native wildlife, New Zealand’s history so much more. It’s free to visit, though they ask for a donation – only $10 and it’s well worth it.
We got lucky as well since it was New Zealand Music month and there was a free performance inside the museum from local artist Iva Lankum. She and her band were great. Definitely worth checking out and Im hoping to see more local music through the month. Though it will be tough since Im on the road until the end of the last week of May.
Tomorrow Im off to ride again. If I get time before I head off on my road trip Ill post some pics of the protest and hopefully riding.
Another right of passage when you come to New Zealand is your first meal at Burgerfuel. All of the locals rave about it and those who have been to New Zealand will tell you, “Bugerfuel is amazing! You will have to try it.” I myself am a bit of a burger connoisseur. From an early age that is all I wanted to eat. I actually interrupted by sisters christening by screaming ‘I want a hamburger!’ My passion for burgers runs deep. The tagline for Burgerfuel – life is too shore to eat bad burgers! And I totally agree with that.
They do some odd things to the burger here and it’s not all bad. Here you will find toppings like; eggs, beetroot, peanut sauce, aioli, avocado and the list goes on. Definitely not your standard North American toppings.
Well the other day I took the plunge and got myself the biggest burger on the menu, some kumara fries and a cup of L&P. All I have to say is, “You have to try Burgerfuel, it’s amazing!”
An IRD is essentially the same thing as a SIN in Canada. I applied for it right after my orientation last week at IEP. It takes about 7-20 days to get and Im still waiting on it – yes I am impatient – I just want to get paid. Ive talked with my employer and have asked not to be paid until I get my IRD. The reason behind that is if you do not have and IRD number you will be taxed 38% on your pay cheque. That is a little too much for my liking, which is why I am holding off on getting paid. That being said, make sure you bring all of the required support funds or more if possible. Starting a new life can be pretty expensive. You’ve got to pay for your apartment bond – which is like paying first and last months rent in Canada. You will want to set-up a phone as soon as possible – for employers to call you. As well if you do not get a furnished apartment you will have to pick up everything for that i.e. cutlery, plates, cups, Tupperware, bedding. You burn through money a lot faster than you think; if you are staying at a hostel – it can add up quickly, travelling and of course hitting the bars with your new friends all will deplete your savings. If you can, try and create a budget and stick to it. Make your lunches, limit your bar nights and maybe put off some of the travel until you have some money coming in. It can be tough though, because when you do get somewhere new you want to explore and of course party, but remember you are here for a year and will have lots of time for all of that. That’s what I keep telling myself.
Do you have any travel tips for saving money?
My first week at work was good. Had lots of training to get through and a couple of new systems to learn. I think the job will definitely keep me busy! Had a few ‘what am I doing’ moments, but I figure that is natural when you start a new position. In all honesty it kind of just feels like Im working back home. Yes it’s a new city/country, but jumping right into work doesn’t make me feel like Ive had any time to travel. It is definitely not the typical backpacker experience. Ive toured around Auckland and took a ferry out to Devon Port for a day and that is about it. It’s good and bad I guess. I am glad that Im working and making money because you burn through it so fast. On the other hand I really want to travel and ride as much of New Zealand as I possibly can. I know that I am being impatient as that will come, but when you get somewhere new you just want to travel – especially after doing orientation and seeing all of the opportunities you have in NZ. So when Im sitting at my desk I just keep telling myself that I am here for a year and soon enough I will be hitting the open road to explore and ride. I guess I am going to try and make the most of my weekends to fill that need!