By Jade Johnston
Reatihi. Hard to hitch to, and potentially really hard to hitch out of. We returned from our canoe journey to the holiday part at around mid afternoon and had hot showers and a hot meal. We then said goodbye to Nils and Thomas and prepared our sign, and our patience for what we thought would be a very difficult hitch out of Reatihi. James was even preparing his very typical English whinge about how we would never get out of the town. Mid complaint, a massive semi truck pulled up behind him (as I always hold the sign since I am a girl and people are much more willing to stop for me) without him even noticing.
We passed our packs up to the driver and climbed up the ladder into the lorry. Al, the truck driver, was going as far as Taupo. We drove through the beautiful Tongariro park and later had stunning views of lake Taupo from high up in the lorry. After Al dropped off the truck for the evening, he gave us a ride to the centre of town in his car.
When he got into town, the information centre was already closed and all the hostels were very expensive. We wanted to camp, but the nearest freedom camping spot was about a half hour walk away and my ankle was in no condition for walking. Luckily the pharmacy was still open and I could buy a stretch bandage for it.
Soon it had gotten dark and we still had not found a place to camp. We eventually walked into the park, where you were not supposed to camp but we decided to try to be sneaky anyways. We started to set up when we heard people – a security guard. He had not seen us but we decided to, instead of being sneaky to go speak to him instead. He had no problem with us camping out, as long as we were gone before 8 am, since a festival was going to be held in the park the next day. He even offered to keep an eye on us to make sure no one messed with our tent. So nice!
That night we had to strategically tie up our bags and food since we had spotted several possums in the area. Possums were introduced to New Zealand from Australia in the 1800’s to establish a fur trade, but they have no natural predators and are now one of the major pests in New Zealand. They destroy native bush and eat birds eggs.
The next morning we were up bright and early and set off. We waited quite a while to find a ride, perhaps due to the early hour. Eventually, Ross stopped for us. He was heading back to Auckland and we could have ridden the whole way with him, but we decided that since I didn’t have to work after all, that we would go to Raglan to relax for a few days instead. Ross was super cool and had been to both Winnipeg (my city) and Bristol (James’ city) for his work. He dropped us off in Tirau where the motorway split.
Here we stopped for a nice coffee and cake break whilst making our new sign: Raglan. When we headed off we were soon picked up by Jenny who works at the Warehouse (its sort of like Walmart) in Hamilton and who was on her way back from the Ragamuffin festival which is held in Rotorua. She dropped us off in Hamilton, and from there it wasn’t long before Reb and his friend picked us up in their jeep and took us the rest of the way to Raglan. They had both met in the army and had just finished some sort of training camp.
Once arriving in Raglan it was a three kilometre walk down the beaches to the cheap ($5) campground which was pretty much a paddock that we shared with a herd of sheep. It had toilet facilities and, unfortunately, only cold showers.
Raglan is famous for surfing and has some of the best surf beaches in New Zealand. Neither James nor I surf though, so it was mostly a relaxation spot for us. The town is really small, but it really cute. It has amazing cafes and art and antique shops where we spent most of our time when we weren’t hanging out with the sheep.
We stayed in Raglan for just two days before heading back to Auckland. On the way to central Raglan my pity inspiring limp got us a ride into the town centre with a mum and her small daughter. From there we were picked up by Hamish who owns a night club in Hamilton. From Hamilton we got a ride with another truck driver who took us to Bombay (just outside Auckland) and who told us heaps of hilarious stories of the antics truck drivers get up to. From Bombay we got a ride with a buddhist women whose name was too challenging for me to remember, who was kind enough to take us to the suburb of Auckland that we needed to get to, despite it being out of her way.
Now time for rest and healing.