I escape the Maori's and head for Tauranga over on the Pacific coast. It's still a pleasure driving, light traffic and a pleasing two or so hours ride listening to an 'oldies' radio station. Music that is, not SAGA radio.
It's a small and very smart clean town. I find my hostel – Loft 109 and check-in early afternoon. Everyone is friendly. Get nattering with a couple of lads from Yorkshire – brothers, they've both left their respective partners and have a one-year working visa for NZ. Listening to their tales of sleeping their way around NZ, they haven't managed to find much time for work. My kinda guys!
We head out into town for a few beers – these are my first in NZ, and it's noticeable how much more expensive this is than anywhere in S. America. Get used to it Woz.
I like to think otherwise, but they don't 'pull' for the first time in ages – and it's been mentioned that hanging out with me may well be the problem. Well really...
I've a couple hours spare next morning – I have a wander around Taraunga, then take a drive over the harbour to the beach. This is a very nice place – wish I had longer to stay. It's a rush, trying to see what I can in the three days – but I have to head back to Auckland Airport, to a motel for an early night and a very early flight to Australia. I really need to come back here sometime.
No real formalities at the airport and I'm soon aboard a 747 bound for Melbourne where I clear formalities easily – I hand my passport over to the immigration lady, she flips through the pages “G'day Warren” she says with a smile “How was South America?” - “Demanding, but great” I reply. “Well, you won't have any trouble here, well except from us Shelia's” - another smile. “OK, I'll be careful then”!, I say hopefully. That's it – I'm in and within thirty seconds I know I'm just gonna love OZ.
I have an easy transfer for my short flight to Adelaide. I'm being met my my mate and former partner from our software business in UK and USA. I haven't seen Andy in a couple of years and last June he and his lady Nikki, emigrated to Australia. I've been looking forward to meeting up again.
Andy's in the arrivals hall – he's a bit amazed at how little stuff I have – just my holdall and small backpack. “Blimey Woz – you have changed” he says. Of course, he remembers me from a previous life -suits, loads of luggage and smart hotels, even for a short trip!
We've loads to talk about while he's driving me out to the coast in his smart Jeep Cherokee. He also looks different – much more relaxed. We're both literally a world away from the high-pressure business we were operating back in the UK and USA.
It's the little things in life that are sometimes just so good – we're sat out by a deserted beach with fish 'n chips – and going through our own bits of nostalgia. From the coast we head up to Mount Lofty (the Aussies have such literal names) and get some great views of Adelaide from on high.
Regrettably it's only one night with Andy and Nikki – they're heading off to Queensland early next morning. I was so glad to catch up with him – never seemed to manage it when he was in the UK and I was in Spain, so it was ironic that Adelaide was our meet-up!!
I sleep most of the next day – the time change from Santiago, to Auckland and now Adelaide is around thirteen hours and my body-clock is more than a bit confused. I've arranged to meet my Couchsurf host - Don, in the centre of Adelaide. We haven't spoken before, just swapped a couple of emails through the Couchsurf website. We're meeting at 5pm, I just manage to wake in time to get the bus from Andy's for the short ride to the city.
We meet as arranged at the corner of Currie and King William Streets. “Don?” I say. We shake hands - “Just got here, a moment ago – good timing” I add. He looks at me intensely - “Your English is very good for a Spaniard” he says. I laugh – he's not read through my whole profile on the Couchsurf website. He saw that I'm based in Fuengirola and assumed I'm Spanish. Of course my dark complexion and sultry look adds to the illusion. “Sorry mate, you're stuck with a pom”. We laugh – I can see we'll get on just fine.