There were a number of places on the North Island I had yet to see and in Auckland, I decided to do a quick week long bus trip with a company called Stray to hit some of the highlights. Given how many of these blogs I have written on the freighter about all the things I did in New Zealand, so here are is really quick rundown.
Surfing lessons in Ragland. A traditional Maori evening in Whakatane, where, as the oldest member of our bus tour (high honor, that), I was ‘elected’ our Chief for the evening and had to lead a haka war dance with the other male members of our bus. That part wasn’t great, but the traditional New Zealand food was great!
From there, with about a week to go before my long boat ride home, I decided to spend my remaining time in two ways: scuba diving north of Auckland, in the Poor Knights Islands (of which Jacques Cousteau said was one of the top 10 dive spots in the world) and then back to Auckland for a few last poker days. The diving was considerably better than the poker, unfortunately.
My housing for my camera I’ve taken underwater a few times on this trip didn’t survive the backpack, so I wasn’t able to take any pictures, but the diving was great. It was the only non-tropical diving I got to do on this journey. Forests of kelp. The biggest underwater cave in the world. Four different types of moray eels. And the highlight of my couple dives – a stingray that swam with us for about five minutes. It was a great dive site and considering the area has fifty or so different dive sites, it is a place well worth multiple days of diving and there are some great camping spots nearby as well.
The poker back in Auckland, on the other hand, was not a highlight. The most amusing thing about my trips to the casino was that I was initially turned away from the door. I have very few articles of clothing that have made it all the way around the world, but the two pairs of pants I started the trip with are still with me, a pair of jeans and another pair of khakis. But after more than a year of use, both of them are looking quite shabby at this point, and according to the people at the casino door, you can’t get in with “ripped pants.” All four knees of both of my pants are ripped through, so I actually had to go buy a new pair of jeans just to play.
All the way around the world without having to buy any pants along with the way. . . just to break down and buy a pair three days before I left to go home. ‘O yea, and my laptop finally completely crapped out and I bought a new laptop about an hour before I boarded the boat on my last day as well. So close.