By Jade Johnston
After a hard night of sweaty tropical New Years partying in a random vineyard in Gisborne, we crawled out of our tents to face the day. After our morning ritual of looking through photos to determine what had happened the night before, we began the routine end of festival chores. Breakfast beer, munching on shapes (a ghetto cracker brand that we are all addicted to), packing up our stuff, removing the random hairy drunk guy who had passed out in one of our tents, and making our hitch hiking signs.
AUCK (or bust!)
The girls (Gloria, Diane, Susanna, and Sylvia) had lost their car keys the night previously, so were going nowhere in a hurry. Luckily they found them later on though. Camille stayed in Gisborne and started her own adventure southward, while Joe, James, and I began hitching back to Auckland.
We ended up taking the most obscure route back to Auckland, but I still made it back to the city in time for work, and had an epic adventure along the way, so no regrets. Here is a map of our route. As you can see, it is slightly nonsensical.
We began our journey by walking down the main road of Gisborne in the direction of the motor way. We were passed by heaps of (probably) still drunk revellers on their way back home. The honking and shouting were driving us nuts, which may explain why we decided to take the first ride that stopped for us, even though they were going technically in the opposite direction.
The sheep shearer (who can shear a sheep in 30 seconds) from Napier, drove us in the direction of Napier (the opposite way of Auckland) but dropped us off at a place that connected with a much more major highway than we would have originally taken, thus increasing our chances of finding another ride. Our next ride, an experienced hiker from Auckland picked us up on his way to do more hiking near Taupo. He only had room for two in his car, so our group split up with James and I taking the ride. He dropped us off near Taupo on what seemed to be a very deserted looking highway, so James and I started walking along the windy road. It was only maybe 10 – 15 minutes however before another car came to a screeching halt directly in front of us.
The incredibly bubbly girl from Wellington who picked us up works with Peter Jackson studios on the new Hobbit movie and instructed us on how to become elven extras. She was amazingly good fun, and had a mild panic attack whenever a bird wandered into the road…. slamming on the brakes and honking her horn. I think at one point a little bird may have gotten injured during this journey, but we told her that she missed it because I don’t know the sort of emotional anguish the poor girl would have suffered if she had known. It would have been more logical to get off at Taupo and stay along the main motorway, but we really enjoyed her company, so we decided to stay on with her until Tauranga.
We were then dropped off in a suburb of Tauranga called Bethlehem, where New Zealanders flock before the holidays to post their Christmas cards, so that the post mark will say Bethlehem on it. From here we walked about 10 minutes and worried about how dark it was getting when a retired couple from Wellington stopped and took us to their bach near Katikati and let us camp in their yard. We experienced some of the most amazing hospitality there! They brought us out a small dinner and some beers, and the next morning made us coffee before dropping us back off at the main highway.
Our campsite in the yard
The view from our tent
The next morning was also very successful, and it only took about 15 minutes before two friends picked us up who were on their way to pick up their sister from the airport. They dropped us near the airport in Auckland, and then it was only a matter of public transportation before I was back home and ready to start my shift at the cafe!
James packing up and getting ready for the final leg of our adventure!