Travel.P #2 – Haka Lodge

Food is not supposed to be fast.


Kia Ora, back into my blog.

How did I challenge you?Did you bring yourself in unpleasant situations without dying? I hope it was a nice experience and you ended up with a little personal growth.

Today I’ll tell you about my first home, my Jet-lag sleep, Couch-surfing in Auckland and how I bought my first Van “EMMA” .

Arriving in Haka-Lodge the booking and check-in went without any problems, with my German Visa card. I could straight check-in and brought my stuff upstairs. I felt so relieved once the heavy backpack was gone. Finally the sweat on my shirt began to slowly dry up. After a short walk through the backpackers, I went outside to get some food. After I asked where I can find a supermarket, I ended up at “Countdown” to get some food. Haka lodge is a backpackers with a couple standard rooms, a washing room, a lounge, connected to the kitchen with the big lovely table and fridges and a movie room, as well as a storage room. “Countdown” and “pak n’ save” are in my experience the cheapest option to gather food after the free food of the hostels and
dumpster diving, that I discovered later in NZ, Wellington, but that will be another story.

The supermarkets are quite close to the German ones in design and offers, except that fruit and beef is so much better and there is no proper quark. Dairy products are way more expensive, which is weird since there are cows everywhere in this country. Maybe it is because they make shit tons of milk powder, that is being shipped to Asia for baby food and stuff. It’s a bit weird and definitely worth a topic to dig into and do some exploring.

What did I buy? – cheapest oats, peanut butter, some bread and maybe a salad and tomatoes. Rice for carbs and some fruit. At that time I thought I knew a lot about nutrition and how to eat healthy, but man I had no damn clue what I was doing. I finally went deeper in nutrition, when I was bored and working on the vineyards in the beautiful North of the lovely South Island – South Island rocks! More about that later on.

The Fake Tree

So how do I pay? – self checkout or maybe better the normal check out? Self check out is the easier way to get some small stuff through or a whole bag without paying, that’s what I was told before arriving in NZ. I ended up at the normal checkout by the way.

Back at the hostel, sitting down for a couple minutes, no clue what was going on, watching people about how life runs here and later when there was some more space I tried myself in preparing food.

Usually at Backpackers, there are always many people living in them, that work over the day, come ‘home’, make food – at that time it is usually very busy, and I tempt to hang out on the couch, while I watched everyone preparing their meal. I love the atmosphere, many open minded relaxed, very different people. That’s why Backpackers (hostels) are a great opportunity to meet awesome people and share big meals, where everyone adds a little dish and you end up with a buffet.

It was my first time sitting at a big table with Argentinians (very interesting folk), British, Brazilian, French, Dutch and Germans. Everyone had a great time and was shouting around and speaking about their days at work or their free-time, diagonal over the table or just next to their neighbor. It was completely loose and I had no clue what to do. I didn’t know how too cook properly and what kitchen utensils I am allowed to use. Now I would say, take what you can as fast as you can, share what you can with who ever looks miserable or is interested or just random – because you feel like it, and care about others, ask them if this pan is available and in the end enjoy the chaos. Yeah sometimes it is annoying to wait half an hour for a stove to be available, but man, it’s not like you’re in hell. Just have a good time.

After a couple shy conversations, I went into my cold room in the first floor, since it was winter and insulation sucks in NZ. I fell asleep for a long time. The next three day were really weird. I felt like I didn’t really got much of the day and it was hard to find motivation. I slept slowly into the new day times and night times. It took me three days to adjust to the new rhythm and I never felt so sleepy, hungover, foggy and exhausted in my life. Maybe I was just a weirdo, but trust me, it’s really strange to fly so far and so long with a tiny amount of bad sleep.

After I adjusted, my hours more and more to everyday time, I started being part of the hostel life and started gaining more confidence in my English. I moved from my room down into the 20 bedroom chamber were the ‘regulars’ lived. Because I had a good eye mask and earplugs, my sleep was good most of the time.

Sunset in Auckland

From Tim, a friendly German, we got the tip to walk to Mount Eden, Maungawhau. A scoria cone. The cone is a dormant volcano and with it’s summit at 196meters, the highest natural point in Auckland suburbs. It’s soft shaped bowl like crater is 50 meters deep. It erupted the last time around 28000 years ago. From there we wanted to catch the sunset over the far horizon in the distance.

Tim told me and a French friend, Marie, after about his main advice after his ‘long’ travel experience: ” No matter what, don’t panic, there is always a solution and a way out”.

He came to Auckland again to leave home after 8 months of NZ. 8 months sounded massive at that time. As it turned out Mount Eden was a beautiful sunset spot, we saw the sun setting behind the mountains and shimmering golden through the river and the glass buildings. I remembered the grass was a bit wet and we became quite chilly, but the amazing view kept us there for another half an hour.

About the beer in New Zealand, I never really found a favorite one. I told myself I like the Pale Ale, though I ended up with lager in the end. I preferred red wine, to which I got introduced to by my french sailing friends. They are also the reason why I like cheese these days, I absolutely detested it before.

The nightlife is supposed to be good in Auckland, but since I was used to Cologne it sucked, haha. The best party are probably in the backpackers, parks, woods, and beaches anyway.

After nearly a month in Haka-Lodge, I saw my money disappearing since I didn’t have a job. I started to think of cheaper alternatives, so I ended up checking out Couchsurfing. After a couple failed tries, I ended up at the LEGEND Sid. Awesome dude, even if I just had a week to get to know him, he was great. He rented out vans in that you could sleep and did shitload of cool things. I stayed there with 3 other Backpackers. It was more like a tiny backpackers than a host, but it was great. We went boxing, swimming and he taught me how to drive on the left side, while telling me all kinds of stories, from his son George FM, my favorite electronic radio channel in NZ, to hosting a group of stripper girls and having the best time with them, since they knew how to party.

While I was staying at his house I bought my first own van for 5000NZ$ . “Emma” was empty and got it’s name inspired by Jim Knopf. It is a Toyota Hiace, with around 300.000 km on the dashboard, which is fine, since the engine sounded good and the oil was just sweating out and it wasn’t dripping. Corrosion is rare in NZ since they use less salt on their streets than in Germany, so when the car is broken it is usually the engine, where a Hiace can go until half a million km or towards eternity, if you tread it good, meaning checking the oil, cooling and doing service checks half a year and driving it careful.
I saw the van the first day and asked for one day where I could think about it. There was already someone else interested in it, so I showed up the next day and bought it. It is a quite expensive price for a Van in NZ, but a common price in Auckland, especially in January, February. For a normal car you should pay around 2000 to 4000 dollars in Auckland. In Christchurch that might start from 1000 to 4000 dollars, depending on the state of the car and your luck.

The next time I bought a diesel van since they are cheaper to move around than petrol and last longer, as far as I know. Just when I bought the Emma, I also found a job in the South Island, through the “Backpackerboard”, a page to find jobs for travelers in NZ. Moving from Sid was easy, because he was on a trip somewhere, so I gave him a call and he told me I could take whatever I needed from the garage, since he bought shitloads of camper vans, including all their random stuff that piled up over the years. I loaded the van with useful utensils, and Sids friends reassured me that I made a great deal with Emma.

I spend a couple more days in Emma in Auckland on the streets. Together with a German friend, Sasha, I met in Haka Lodge. I sometimes went back to Haka lodge to cook for free catch a shower. After that I went for a random beautiful random hike a bit further north, planed my trip on a map and left Auckland direction south. I was super exited. My first Roadtrip in my own beautiful van. Emma had a great color, a deep blue like the ocean. I’m not materialistic, but that car and me had some great times.

What else I have done in Auckland and would recommend doing:

  • Go to Hare Krishna near the port on Sunday. Nice food for 5 bugs, fun and weird lessons for life.
  • Do some hikes outside Auckland
  • Try to enjoy the city life, even if it sucks
  • go to the Auckland War Memorial Museum, sounds boring but it’s actually pretty cool
  • wander random in one direction and see what happens, interesting things to see
  • spend time in the parks, they are great
  • try some nice restaurants, I really enjoyed the Indian just on K-Road
  • Catch a couple sunsets

What I don’t recommend in Auckland:

  • Give it a try, but I think clubbing sucks
  • spending too much time in this city, you miss a beautiful country
  • spending money on fast food, since you could share nice meals and fun at the backpackers. Food is not supposed to be fast in my opinion.
  • stressing out
  • wasting money on booze

The next time I’m gonna tell you about my first road-trip and my first proper view of stunning NZ.

Puh, another smoking head in the Dock Library of Melbourne and “Strand-Stephan Bodzin” in my ears, erupted through the Paul Kalkbrenner Radio on Spotify, while I’m escaping the summer heat, (never felt that hot wind) and enjoying the view on the port and the wind shaping patterns on the brown sea. One day you will see this exact view on my blog, but this blog post is still far, far away.

My choice of the day for you (and me) is to bring more thought into the food that you buy and actually appreciate it, spend time consuming it and preparing it.

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