Sunday, December 20, 2009

A weekend away

After getting a ride into Auckland with our last WWOOFer's neighbor, we spent a night in Auckland at a hostel before catching a 12 hour bus ride to the south of the North Island. The ride went through some beautiful scenery but because we kept getting behind schedule we didn't get to stop at any one place for very long, and the one time we did stop for any duration, we got out to stretch our legs and got back on the bus to find our seat was now occupied by a quite large woman and her daughter. We explained that she was in our seats (even showing her our water bottles that we left in the mesh net on the back of the seats) but she didn't care. So...we had to ride the last eight hours not next to each other and not by the window. (The bus was a double-decker and our original seats were on the top by the window.) It was a little bit annoying, but such is life with long-distance bus rides. At least I loaded up the iPod with my favorite podcasts before leaving (although I'm not sure listening to five hours of podcasts about the financial crisis helped my mood much...) Jaimee entertained herself by reading three-quarters of a real page-turner.

In any event we arrived in Wellington, had a quick beer at the pub in the train/bus station (we needed it!) and caught the train out to the town of Upper Hutt to meet Brian, the Harley Davidson-riding kiwi who Jaimee's aunt and mom met last August when he was cruising through Idaho.

Brian is a awesome, although not exactly your stereo-type New Zealander. About the only thing typical is his business - he runs a fencing company, which I assumed meant farm fencing for the numerous farms around New Zealand. But, no, he said he does mostly commercial jobs that require tall barbed wire fences, like prisons. He also rides Harleys (he leaves one in Montana for his frequent visits there) and collects muscle cars (there were three Cameros, two Mustangs, a couple of Ford pickups and a Corvette, among other cars I couldn't identify in his garage). He fixes them up (even converting the driving side in some cases) and re-sells them. Who knew there was a market for 1980s Corvettes in New Zealand (or that there were so many prisons that needed fencing)?

Brian lives above his garage/work shop, which is decorated quite interestingly. Here I am working on the blog:

But we didn't stay here long. In the morning we went out to his land (he owns about 700 acres which he's subdivided and hopes to develop). Continuing with the WWOOFing theme, we helped him replant a tree, although if this was a real WWOOF situation we would have dug the hole by hand. Instead we used Brian's tractor:

After this task (and a cup of tea, of course) we drove a couple hours up the coast to his bach (pronounced batch) which as mentioned previously is like a small cabin or weekend home. His bach was a bit rustic, but the setting was phenomenal, literally across the street from the beach. The weather was a bit blustery for a swim, but we enjoyed walking along the water and playing with his three dogs by the beach. We also drove out along a beach road to a light house and seal colony.

We also got to do some work on the grounds (mowing and cleaning up). Once we tell people about WWOOFing I think they think it means that we want to work. We didn't mind, although the grass was pretty unruly and long and the mower kept stalling out by choking on the grass.

Now we're back at the workshop, but leave early in the morning to take a train back to Wellington, a ferry across to the South Island and then a bus to the town of Nelson. We'll check out Nelson (it's supposedly the sunniest place in New Zealand) before heading to our WWOOFing hosts in Westport on Tuesday.

Here are all the pictures (don't miss the one with the American Flag!):

A Bach Weekend

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