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Tiny Little NZ Road Trip

a travel blog by Koala Bear

So most people on Blogabond are off in exotic parts of the world doing noble volunteering stuffs and things and teaching deprived ickle kiddies and what not.

I'm in New Zealand and have just spent 6 months working in a call centre for beauty and exercise products and anyone who knows me personally will piss themselves laughing at that.
So I saved my cash and buggered off around the country to see what NZ has on offer apart from campervans, sheep and jumping off stuff.

Photos are all at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ohfuckkit/collections/72157605420359714/
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Welcome To New Zealand, Eh Bro

Auckland, New Zealand

The question I get asked more than any other is, "How do you get through customs?" which is a reference to the unnecessary amount of metal I have through various parts of my head. My usual reply (which is always accompanied by a "my my aren't you funny and original and I've never heard that one before" sort of laugh) is "No worries, I never get stopped." Now I was never particularly good in English Lit, my understanding of irony isn't strong but I think this might be it.

So I made it to New Zealand yesterday with only minor hassles and by minor I mean being accused of smuggling drugs by a dog with a penchant for squeaky toys being handled by an eight foot Maori woman. I may be exaggerating slightly but when you're sat there while a man shouts at you for putting your hand in your pockets with visions of latex gloves flashing through your mind things do seem a bit out of proportion, I mean, I've never been in trouble with the police or customs before. This was a whole new thing for me. I shake when I'm pulled over for a random breath test even if I haven't had a drink for three days. I don't deal well with people in uniforms thinking I've done stuff I haven't, I just ooze guilt from every pore, I feel like I have "I DID IT AND DAMMIT I'D DO IT AGAIN!" written across my forehead in permanent marker.

Before the customs guy searched my bag he told me if they didn't find anything they might strip search me and you know what was going through my mind? Honestly? All I could think was, fuck, I wish I'd bothered shaving this morning. If I was gonna have to get naked in front of strangers whilst stone cold sober I could at least look vaguely hot instead of having a minge you could sand door frames with. I made a mental note to improve personal grooming before any future flights just in case.

So he searched my bags and jacket, all the time asking me loads of questions about my drug use and have I come into contact with anyone who uses drugs and if I did drugs it was ok as long as I didn't try and bring them into New Zealand. He emptied everything out onto an aluminium bench, went through all my pockets (bear in mind I wear combat trousers, I'm a huge fan of pockets) and by the time he'd gone through my bags and found nothing he let me go.

Without a strip search.

Shame. It'd have been the most action I'd seen in a fortnight.

permalink written by  Koala Bear on May 21, 2008 from Auckland, New Zealand
from the travel blog: Tiny Little NZ Road Trip
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Random Nuggets Of Information #5

Wellington, New Zealand

Getting to a new place and Settling In means I haven't had a great deal to blog about that doesn't involve stress and/or drinking. Fortunately my ego is big enough to continue telling the world all about me me me whether they're interested or not so brace yourself for a few paragraphs all about my first month in, as the locals say, Nu Zuland.

I have no idea how they'd pronounce "elocution."

Finding Work
Three weeks it took me to get a job. Three bloody weeks! I've never attended so many interviews that have those inane questions such as;
"Why do you want to work here?" (Because you'll give me money.)
"What's the most important thing you look for in a job." (Wages.)
"How would your best friend describe you?" (An anally retentive nerd with bad hair and appalling taste in music.)
"Describe yourself in 5 words." (Seriously? Ok. Cold, tired, narky and sexually frustrated.)
"And what could you bring to the company?" (Donuts on Fridays if that's what it takes!)

Eventually I got 40 hours a week in a national chain store where for the first time in 10 years I have to take my piercings out for work. Yep, I'm a corporate retail whore. Every day before work I put all my jewellery in little sealy bags and wave goodbye to my thought processes for 8.5 hours, then I don my bright red shirt complete with name badge in case enough of my brain disintegrates and I forget who I am and spend the day rearranging things on racks.

It's the most boring job in the world surpassed only by that time I decided that making plastic envelopes was a viable career option but it's a job init. They pay shit wages but they do pay wages and after all, that's the most important thing we look for in a job, right?


New Wheels
I'm now the proud owner of a Toyota Camry station wagon. Thankfully it's not the 3.9 litre 6 cylinder beast my last car was given the shocking price of fuel over here but it's big enough to sleep two people without kicking each other in the head or waking up with cramps. And by waking up I mean from the kind of broken attempt at sleep that happens when you're folded in half on the back seat of a sedan. I'm also a bit disturbed at the longness of it and anyone who ever saw me try and park the Falcon will understand why but I love it. Not as much as the Falcon yet, I loved that car about as much as it's possible to love a car without it being A Bit Funny but I'm sure once me and the Camry (who is apparently called Harry) are on the road we'll develop that special bond that single people with no pets have with their vehicles.

And In Other News
About 4 years after everyone else in the world I'm now addicted to playing Scrabulous through Facebook. I'm not very good at it though, I get excited if I can make words of more than four points and it doesn't help that I keep getting letters the Welsh would cream over. But come on, bring it on, I'll 'av ya.

That is all.

permalink written by  Koala Bear on June 13, 2008 from Wellington, New Zealand
from the travel blog: Tiny Little NZ Road Trip
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One Month In The Capital

Wellington, New Zealand

With Wellington being the nation's capital an all that there are plenty of things to do to keep you entertained and some of them don't even involve alcohol. Most do involve coffee on account of the copious amounts of cafes, each one with its little fan club that claims it does the Best Coffee In Wellington. Well whatever gets your rocks off, once you've added the three spoons of sugar that makes coffee palatable it all tastes the same to me.

Aaanyway, here we go. Tourist type stuff I got up to before taking off up north to the nation's Should Be The Capital, Auckland.

Cable Car To The Botanic Gardens
On account of the fact New Zealand is made entirely of hills you'll find that some of the tourist attractions involved climbing up them or rolling down them. In Wellington they have a handy cable car that'll take you up one of the aforementioned hills up to the Botanic Gardens where you get to spend a few hours wandering round and looking at trees and more hills.

Wellington is one of those places that'll either get you really fit really quickly or have you crawling to the NHS and begging for a new pair of lungs.

Mount Victoria
Take a group of backpackers. Remove alcohol. Add boredom and a Mancunian bloke called Dan who suggests we all walk up Mount Victoria in the dark.

It's a stunning view from the top in all honesty, I still haven't been up in the daylight though. When I pass back through I'll head back up there. In the car.

Red Rock Seal Colony
So you drive for about 15 minutes to the beginning of the 4WD only road, park up and begin the 1.5 hour trek to see the seals that are sprawled out over the rocks at various points along the walk. It's so cool to see them.

I could so easily be a seal, me. I could get fat and blubbery and spend my days lounging around looking bored and stinking of fish. In fact catch me on any given Sunday and I'm almost there.

Getting Away
It took me a grand total of three days to get fed up of answering the retarded questions of people that in England we'd describe as A Bit Council and picking stuff up that the general public were too fucking lazy to return to the shelves themselves for a measly, piddling NZ$12 per hour so I handed my notice in and headed up to Auckland. It took a mere 10 hours by car to get there followed by about 90 minutes of driving round the city, swearing loudly at the map book which was clearly lying to me. After not being able to find the backpackers I was booked into I ended up in a tent for two nights at City Garden Lodge before there was room inside.

As feral and outdoorsy as I like to think I am not even I'm happy about camping out when the temperature drops to 1 degree and you're kept awake all night wondering if the tent you borrowed leaks.

Fair weather camper indeed. I want to go back to the Tropics.

permalink written by  Koala Bear on June 24, 2008 from Wellington, New Zealand
from the travel blog: Tiny Little NZ Road Trip
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A Word Of Advice

Auckland, New Zealand

Maybe it's just me.

Maybe it's because I'm weirded out by empty backpackers run by a man in a baseball hat that somehow looks slightly too large for his head and his European missus, or maybe it's just because I think you should be allowed to bring your mates into the place you're staying with it after all being your temporary home.

It could be because I resent being told I essentially have go to bed at 11pm because they're closing the TV room, communal area, kitchen and dining room at that time or perhaps its just because I prefer to do my own laundry as opposed to handing it over to two people who are barely about.

So yeah. Maybe it's just me that hated staying at Auckland International Backpacker in Parnell.

Probably because I have issues with people other than my mother washing the skid marks out of my knickers.

permalink written by  Koala Bear on July 7, 2008 from Auckland, New Zealand
from the travel blog: Tiny Little NZ Road Trip
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Life So Far

Auckland, New Zealand

I'm ill and not "Where's All My Money Gone, Why Do I Smell Of Kebabs And What's This Traffic Cone Doing In My Bed" kind of ill.
More of a "Sat In The Office Coughing Into The Air Conditioning Whilst Wishing I Wasn't A Temp So I Could Take Full Advantage Of The Company Sick Pay Scheme" kind of ill which of course is infinitely worse but at least I'm legally allowed to bitch about it without smug looks from people eating fry ups. I've been nothing but ill since I got to Auckland.

And yes I said office, I'm a Call Centre Monkey again and no, I have no idea how this happened but my sanity already started packing last week and is threatening to move out permanently.

I do not like customers. I do not wish to service them. It doesn't help that customers take Stupid Lessons and are under the impression that their phone call is the most important thing to happen to me that day.

I wanted to work in a factory, I called the agency and told them I wanted to make the same thing over and over again for 8 hours a day because that's the kind of ambitious go-getter I am. Apparently they had nothing like that but they practically creamed themselves when they saw I'd spent two years taking verbal abuse off the good people of the UK because the inept depots once again failed to deliver their water on time and this was somehow my fucking fault. Not that I'm bitter or anything. Oh no.

  • twitches a bit*

  • I also spend 2 hours a day at the backpackers vacuuming, mopping and hoping to god that the wet patch I just put my hand in on a mattress was where someones hot water bottle leaked and isn't in fact piss and I spend Friday and Saturday nights getting a room full of queers drunk up at Family Bar although I'm not sure any of this will counteract the fattening effects of working in an office with a vending machine full of cookies and a Subway across the car park so basically I'm doomed, at least my waistline is anyway. And my pocket, I need three jobs just so I can afford the vast quantities of chocolate required to survive working in customer service and the vodka required to overcome the trauma of dealing with people who I'm surprised have the mental capacity to operate a telephone, let alone use it to call me and make my day miserable.

    Anyway, if you'll excuse me I'm off to drink some tea and take calls from people who are under the grave misconception that I give a flying fuck.

    permalink written by  Koala Bear on August 25, 2008 from Auckland, New Zealand
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    Magical Mystery Tour Of Auckland

    Auckland, New Zealand

    So most folks on Blogabond are off in exotic parts of the world doing noble volunteering stuffs and things and teaching deprived ickle kiddies and what not. I'm in Auckland, NZ, trying not to get rained on and working in a call centre for beauty and exercise products and anyone who knows me personally will piss themselves laughing at that. Since I've been here I haven't seen much outside of the office or the night club I also work at so yesterday I dragged my Kiwi missus, Kama, and two of my backpacker mates round to look at some hills and stuff.

    One Tree Hill

    I'm actually a bit disappointed in the abundence of trees on the alleged One Tree Hill. There's definate tree related activity on that there hill and dammit there's more than one of them. The one tree the name refers to, a Totara, was apparently chopped down years ago. Then it got replaced by a pine tree which was attacked by Maoris and then, well, chopped down. So yeah, it didn't have much luck with its One Tree and all that remains is a stump and a fuck off great big oblisk.

    And One Tree Hill is interactive, if you look down into the valley you'll see where people have gathered rocks and made big art such as their names and a large, smiley penis. We made our way down there to make some of our own. Ok well me and Bexster did anyway, Gregg and Kama stood around taking photos and generally mocking our efforts. Slack bastards.

    We stole a circle of stones that was already there, had a brief attack of guilt before deciding that we weren't destroying a great work of art or upsetting anyones dead ancestors and made a slighty spastic looking smiley face.

    Mt Eden
    After the completion of our Special Needs Smiley and we'd admired it frm the top of the hill we headed to Mt Eden. Apparently you haven't seen Auckland until you've seen it from Mt Eden so we duly rocked up to take more photos of the city from the top of a big hill. The oblisk isn't half as impressive as One Tree Hill but you do get some pretty views and a crazy Asian lady thrusting leaflets about organ harvesting into your hands.

    City Of Sails
    Random retarded question of the week: "So is there, like, a harbour in Auckland or anything?" I was informed that Auckland IS a harbour then promptly ridiculed. Oh come on, I'm allowed to ask stupid questions, its the tourist in me.

    So the next stop was under the Auckland Harbour (duh!) Bridge for more photo ops and a wander round the marina in the wind. Fuck it was breezy yesterday, probably not the best day to spend mincing around near water or on top of hills but there was one more hill to go.

    North Head
    Then it was over the bridge to Devenport and North Head where it occured to me that the majority of tourist activities in and around Auckland involve taking photos of the Sky Tower from various look outs and points surrounding the city. I have millions of pictures of it from every angle and I have no idea why because it looks exactly the same no matter where you stand to look at it. I still fucking love it though.

    North Head is laced with tunnels all through the hill that you can wander through and explore, its pitch black in parts, darker than a back room at a dodgy gay club but not quite as dodgy on account of all the tourists emerging out of the gloom. You don't really have a chance to give the place a bad reputation. Uh... not that we would, mum...

    More About The Girl
    And yep, I've met this lass and no, she doesn't seem to have too many Crazy Issues at this stage. She's an Auckland girl who I met at the call centre which means I probably can't keep her once I leave the country, locals just don't travel well once you drag them away from their own bed, couch and their hair straightners, but I'm trying not to think about that at the moment, we're just gonna make the most of what time we have.

    Aaaand, I don't think there's much more to tell. She's 21, called Kama, lives out in bloody woop-woop at Muriwai Beach about 45kms west of the city and it amuses me that she always dresses for the office, even on a sightseeing tour of some hills.

    Ha, can't wait to see how she copes on the road for 10 days in January.

    Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ohfuckkit/sets/72157608780982328/detail/

    permalink written by  Koala Bear on November 9, 2008 from Auckland, New Zealand
    from the travel blog: Tiny Little NZ Road Trip
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    Sooky La La

    Auckland, New Zealand

    Its visa extension time again which means being prodded by strangers that don't even buy me a drink first, bombarded with radiation and stabbed with needles that don't result in a pretty picture or a shiny bit of metal embedded in my flesh. Oh fucking yay.

    Clearly I'm used to needles, I have several tattoos and my face resembles an expensive pin cushion, I should be ok with blood tests, right?


    Ha yeah you'd think so. Last time I had blood taken I cried. Twice. They gave me a lollipop. I was 25. And watching Kama have blood taken the other day? The nurse was soothing ME through it.

    So on Wednesday I get the chest x-ray and the blood tests done, I'm thinking about taking Kama so she can feel sorry for me but then that'd destroy my Butch Dyke Image I've so carefully crafted over the years, can't have people knowing I'm really gayer than a row of pink tents now can I. Plus sympathy is as alien to Kama as a sense of taste and style is to me, she's more likely to take photos and post them on Facebook than make cooing noises and promise me a pampering later on.

    On Friday I get to go for a medical where hopefully they'll discover that a strict diet of vodka, cask wine and 2 minute noodles makes for a fit and healthy backpacker with no signs of malnutrition or vitamin deficiency.

    Oh yes. I'm. So. Doomed.

    permalink written by  Koala Bear on November 14, 2008 from Auckland, New Zealand
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    Now I'm No Expert...

    Auckland, New Zealand

    But is it seriously necessary to extract half the contents of my bloody arm just for a few fucking blood tests?! Anyway I survived it with only minor sobbing and they only had to get ONE extra nurse in to hold my hand. Oh and this is what I'd look like if I was transparent. And stood in front of a bench. Naked. Anyway. Visa extension application has been handed in and now I just have to wait a bit to find out if I have to leave in May or if I'll be allowed to hang around for a bit and take a bit more verbal abuse off infomercial customers.
    On a brighter note, this is about as stressful as my life gets. Can't really fault that ay.

    permalink written by  Koala Bear on November 21, 2008 from Auckland, New Zealand
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    Practically A Local

    Auckland, New Zealand

    So my visa extension was approved and now I'm legally allowed to reside in the Southern Hemisphere until April 2010. Yay an things.

    However this may have some severe implications for my hair, more specifically the back of it. Whilst mullets were outlawed in 1994 in most parts of the world, in New Zealand they're practically fucking compulsory and not those allegedly trendy Toni & Guy mullets either, more like those rat tail efforts so popular with rednecks and Australians circa 1989.

    My hair has mulletous tendencies as it is, I spent years abusing it with peroxide and product and now it spends its time plotting a terrifyng revenge. Every now and then the back of it makes a break for it and tries to outgrow the top. I usually manage to catch it in time once I notice the horrified stares of bystanders but as mullets are as common place as sheep over here and even regarded as (shudders) acceptable my early warning system may fail me.

    Hmm. I may need to invest in some hats.

    permalink written by  Koala Bear on December 3, 2008 from Auckland, New Zealand
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    Practising Their Stupid

    Auckland, New Zealand

    Ok so I've pretty much come to terms with the fact that I'm just not cut out for the Being Nice To Stupid People thing that customer service entails. Try dealing with this every day:

    Me: And your street number please.
    Cust: Canterbury.
    Me: The number, please.
    Cust: Canterbury.
    Me: Is that a number?

    Me: C for cat, T for tree.
    Cust: C for tree?

    Kama: B for bravo.
    Cust: C?

    Me: Please could you confirm your phone number?
    Cust: Twenty first of the fifth nineteen seventy nine.
    Me: ....Erm... phone number?

    Me: Could I take your customer number please?
    Cust: Is that the customer number?
    Me: ....Yyyyeeeeesssss....

    Switchboard: Could I please take your name and number and have an operator call you back?
    Cust: I don't have a name or number.

    Me: When did you place your order?
    Cust: I don't know.
    Me: Was it more than three days ago?
    Cust: No.
    Me: So it was less than three days ago.
    Cust: Yes.
    Me: Ok so it wont be in our system yet.
    Cust: …errrrm…
    Me: You placed your order less than three days ago yes?
    Cust: No I placed it ages ago.
    Me: Ohhh kaayyy! So you DIDN'T place it less than three days ago! Did you pay with a credit card?
    Cust: No, it was cheque or money order thing…
    Me: And did you get a payment slip off us or did you send in a coupon?
    Cust: I havent sent it yet.
    Me: Ok but did you call us to place your order?
    Cust: I havent placed an order yet.

    God I hope it isn't contagious.

    Aaaanyway, only a week of call centre hell left and I'm outta here. Three weekends left at the bar plus new years eve which is fine because drunk people are easier to handle than call centre customers and probably drool less too then I'm back where I belong.

    On the road.

    permalink written by  Koala Bear on December 12, 2008 from Auckland, New Zealand
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    I live life on the edge.

    Provided I'm harnessed to a safety rope and there's a team of trained professionals on hand to make sure I don't fall off.

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