On DAYS 83-85 we hung out in the small town of Nelson, which has two claims to fame: it is the geographical center of the country and home to New Zealand’s best weather patterns.
As our trip winds down, Carrie and I have been talking about different places we’d like to live if we ever moved to New Zealand. We both agreed that we’d want to be near an urban area just for the sake of larger job options. Wanaka was a clear favorite until we spent time in Nelson. Nelson is particularly appealing to Carrie because of the town’s “living green” vibe. The markets sell local and organic goods and many homes we saw used native plant landscapes. The town is also close to many wineries and fruit orchards. It has two breweries: Macs and Founders. We saw lots of cyclists using actual designated cycle lanes. Nelson has a lot going for it.
During our time in Nelson, we stayed at a friendly, small hostel called Trampers Rest, whose owner Allen helped us fetch boxes to pack our bikes for the flight to Auckland. Allen also saved the day when he appeared at the airport holding Carrie’s journal, which she left at the hostel. We were both grateful for his hospitality.
Our flight from Nelson to Auckland was easy. I didn’t even show ID when checking in for our boarding passes. There were no metal detectors or bomb sniffing dogs or grim security guards. The lady who checked us in was wearing a paper hat with a felt pen “Happy 19th Birthday” scrawled on the side. George W. Bush claims we’re safer now that “we’re” taking the terrorists head on, but I prefer the feeling of safety that comes when we don’t have enemies. The only enemies of New Zealand are possums, stoats and sandflies.
When we arrived in Auckland we reassembled our bikes and weaved our way through the suburban chaos back to our Warm Showers hosts Cynthia and Marjo, with whom we stayed at the beginning of our trip. They treated us to a great homemade dinner as we recounted some of the highlights of our trip.
On DAY 86 we did a lot of walking around Auckland searching for the perfect gifts to give to all of our friends who’ve been kind enough to plant sit and do other favors while we’ve been gone. We probably walked about 50km, or at least it felt like it. The “winter” weather in Auckland right now allows everyone to be out in shirts, shorts and sandals.
On DAY 87 we’ll be collecting our bicycle suitcases and heading to the airport for our final day in New Zealand. It’s really going to be hard to leave. We’ve met so many wonderful people and seen so much of what is a spectacular country. All I can say is that everyone should visit this place at least once in their lifetime.