28/06/2017 – Landing in a new city, in a new country after two days of travel and no sleep, I’m dazed and lost and regretful for a minute until I hop on the bus from the airport to the city and see the mountains in the distance, a shimmering lake so wide you can’t see its shores. I found the magic I hoped for already.
29/06/2017 – I hike through the strange city streets to change hostels, they’re near empty, though it’s a workday. I have to pull my luggage up a steep incline and I feel sorry for myself once more. I’m still tired.
Too early to check in to my new hostel I seek out the water, I need a serene place to reach calm and smother the anxiety threatening me. I find the harbour and in the winter sunshine its a site I can’t comprehend. My camera won’t do it justice and I grumble to myself about it. But I give up on technology and take it all in. From here I see a brilliant, if slightly tiny like a model city, skyline. The buildings don’t soar so high here and it’s refreshing. There is a small transportation container, two chairs inside, surrouded by bookshelves for exchange. Suits are everywhere, though packed most tightly in the gardens of upmarket seafood restaurants and wine bars. I like them because they remind me I’m not them and I go solo on back into town.
I stumble on a Lord of the Fries, a marvel I indulged in back in Australia where I assumed I would see the last of it. The fries are just as greasy and delicious across the waters and it’s a small happiness to have that gooey spicy Vietnamese sauce in my life again.
My roommates at the new hostel are long term and have no patience with me. All boys are in my ‘mixed’ dorm but they prove nicer than the girl gang in the lobby who scowled when I smiled. They’re from England, big surprise there. After a few uncomfortable hours I leave the hostel to meet with a friend I lived with in Sydney. She’s a ray of sunshine as always, loved up and content with her life on the South Island. I take comfort in knowing someone and it reminds me to be grateful for all the experiences and people yet to come into my life.
30/06/2017 – It’s sunny again and I roam out of the city centre to Mount Eden. Getting lost I end up on the road to the Museum so I follow the alien lead and find myself in the Winter Gardens, beautifully exotic greenhouses on the park grounds of the Museum. I don’t go in the museum building in the end, distracted by a seat in solitude by the duck pond in the sunshine. On my trek back down the incline I see a sign for my original destination so I follow a local lady, chatting on the phone in a firm tone, a brisk haste in sport leggings, perfectly highlighted hair in a tight ponytail. The way up is probably the most magical because with every family of trees you pass a new piece of the complete puzzle is revealed. Far away blissful ocean, islands and bays inhabiting it, the skyline with the sky tower powerful in its centre, hundreds upon hundreds of houses. At the top, the summit is centred by a volcanic crate and there are various spots around its perimeter, a 360 degree view of Auckland. Make sure its a clear day so you can catch a glimpse of all of the wonder.
At first I’m almost alone and take it in slowly, rushing to my camera when two buses of tourists reach the summit, hungry for the raw image before it’s speckled with bodies. On the way down I listen cheekily to the words of two guys, who look about my age, one is bearded and dressed in ripped and worn clothing, artfully so. The other is in a bright orange rain jacket, a beanie hugging his head. They both own perky New Zealand accents and talk about an independent movie they’re working on, a gig one of them attended the week before and a downward romance orange jacket is ready to give up on.
For a minute I want to talk to them, a strange impulse I’ve never owned before in my shyness. But I don’t I just keep strolling, catching snippets until I leave them at the visitor carpark, taking the road to the city by foot once more. I stop at a cafe, that I forget the name of, on Mount Eden road and grab an iced soy latte to sip in the heavy sun. Once back in the city I hunt down food, a place for one that isn’t so intimidating. I settle on a mexican fast food place with vegan burrito bowls and two other solo occupants. Eating out is the only thing I find difficult about lone wolfing so far.
01/07/2017 – My 23rd birthday. I almost forget until a notification from a keen friend alerts me. I open a card my parents gave to me before I left and cry for a couple minutes in the shower. Not sad, just overwhelmed. Them being proud has a phenomenal effect on me because as much as I’m enjoying my life and living it so selfishly it’s almost wrong, I expect they aren’t too pleased with my lack of career, house and relationship. Though I suspected they don’t care, they’ve never been the pressuring types, it was still a comfort to read. I call home and chat for a while. The weather has turned grey and as wonderful as thunder storms are to me, they don’t bode well with touristing. So I book to see West Side Story. A production who’s advertisement I’d eyed on my way in and out of the city. Theatre is a huge part of who I am and it has been a while since I saw any kind of production.
Through the day I cafe hop (Remedy Coffee on Wellesley Street is my favourite), window shop (Thrifting on karangahape road) and duck into a few art galleries along the way. Finding time to embrace the energy of the city instead of racing against it. In the evening I do my makeup for the first time in Auckland, dress in my favourite outfit, take a few selfies in my rare confidence and hit the sleek streets. The theatre is crowded but I find my section to be strangely empty. I chat to a young girl who has also gone solo. She tells me how she studies in Wellington and she feels I’d love it there, that the city is art in action. She’s from Auckland originally and visiting family and friends. Usually she does such things alone because it’s the only way she can really process the thing and escape. When the curtains fall for the final time I believe her and vow to take more solo theatre trips. I call a few friends, respond to some beautiful messages and feel loved. I sleep feeling that twenty three could be a wonderful year.
02/07/2017 – Another hostel switch, to one in the city. Base. I’ve stayed in Base hostels in other cities and this one is just as comfortable in it’s easy vibe and pure traveller feel. My room is a four bed, cleaner and more relaxing than the others I’d stayed in. My only roommate is a New Zealand chap who’s just landed back after ten years in Australia, we barely talk. The reception guy is awesome and gives me advice on trips to take and supports my decision to work the winter and travel the summer. I feel relieved and set myself up for the night with re runs of gossip girl in a comfortable bed.
03/07/2017 – Check out is first up and I’m surprised by free food so I nab a cheeky slice of toast and a black coffee. Then I hit second breakfast (when in Middle Earth) at a joint called Misters. I’ve yet to have an acai bowl and I hear they do the best. It’s true. It’s a cute spot with brick walls and plants everywhere. They don’t just do vegan but there are tones of options and my almond milk latte is bomb. I leave the place after taking advantage of the free wifi and hop to a couple other spots to use the wifi and drink too much coffee. My appointment with the bank runs smoothly and my account is set up and ready in less than a half hour. I thank chatty Jess, my wonderful advisor, and head to pick up my bag from the hostel. Hopping on a bus to the airport, I’m there way earlier than I need to be but I grab yet another coffee and fill my last hours in Auckland with research on Wellington. My tummy turns and my spirit is giddy, all ready for a new adventure.