NZ10+ : Day 30 : WELLINGTON to TAUPO

What started as a day going solo and finding ways to kill time in a rainy Taupo, turned into one of the most surreal and rock and roll nights out of my life as I was joined by three Norwegian Valkyries, and made friends with a Manga-loving Maori.

There are no pictures of this day (or the night out) at all, apart from this view out of the bus window.
A very wet and rainy ride into Taupo...

Tuesday 15/04/08

After thinking on it, I decided to on my original plan to fly home, as I’d found a new group of cool people to spend the last three days with, instead of changing my flight. But after making this decision, the bus this morning ended up leaving without them! I have no idea whether they slept in as a result of staying out too late, but none of them showed, so I got the bus without the new ‘gang.’ Hopefully they will get on tomorrow’s bus and rendezvous with me in Taupo.

For now, that means that I am in Taupo by myself again, currently sat in Mulligans – the very same pub which ran the massive pub quiz earlier in the trip. I’m sat here writing this diary for a while, in the vain hope that Will or “Chubba-Chup” Martin will come in, and that I can be on a quiz team with someone other than myself.

The heavens absolutely unleashed themselves today. The seat next to me on the coach was being dripped on through a hole in the sunroof, and the main road to Taupo was closed, so we had to go the long way around the Lake. We checked into the hostel in the pouring rain, and going against my usual convention, I checked into a dorm room rather than a solo one. I think there are three girls in there who had stayed the night before - I hope they’re sound. “My” duvet was being used by one of them the night before, and their laundry was on my bed, so I had to move a few things around to make space.

I should have stayed for some food at teatime in the hostel, as that’s what worked in Kaikoura to meet new people. Instead I locked my bag up, and headed right out to Global Gossip internet cafe to go online. I did check the cinema times, but when it came down to it, I thought I would rather waste time surfing online, rather than time and money watching Rambo.

Just went for a curry next to Mulligans, reckon it came out of a tub and then straight into the microwave, it turned up very quick-ish! Now I am sat here, writing my diary in a pub full of people who already know each other. Great. I could head up back to the hostel, and try to mope there and meet new people. Who knows. At the time of writing, I haven’t got a clue. Think I’ll plan to drink to be asleep enough to not disturb whoever the girls in my room turn out to be, and vice versa. Bloody backpacking.

(Writing on the 16th, in the same Café that I had a brew in last time I was in Taupo).

Turned out to be quite rock and roll actually!

I spotted Will with some lads from the bus waiting to join in the quiz, so I infiltrated their team by telling them how the quiz had worked last time I was in Taupo. We did okay, but it was nowhere near as much fun as it was last time. I guess the rain had dampened the crowd’s spirits. The guys left right after the answers, so I was left alone again with half a pint. I finished it off and tramped back to the hostel, where I could hear voices from my room.

Turns out to be three very friendly girls from Norway (“You must be Colin!”) who were watching their bungee footage on a laptop, whilst having a quiet drink in the room. It was only 12-ish at this point, and I thought why not join in? So, I finally finished off that bottle of wine I had been carrying since Nelson. I wished one of them a happy birthday, helped them with some computer problems, showed them my own Nevis bungee footage, and got them hooked on the conspiracy theory that Paul McCartney had died in the 60’s…

I then found that the three of them were getting ready to go back out; at this point it was 1am. So, I joined them and ended up right back in Mulligans where I had started! Must have got a little tipsy, as I ended up chatting to the Maori bouncer/writer (who also works at the hostel and cleaned the room this morning!) and a Kiwi truck driver about the perils of women and drinking.

The three girls obviously got a lot of attention, and I felt like Charlie looking after his Angels. Though they were more than capable of looking after themselves of course. One of them pulled, the one everyone fancied was getting friendly with an English dude, and Birthday girl finished the night off with a cigar before going to bed.

Woken up at 10am by the car valet/garage next door using the world’s most powerful vacuum cleaner to clean their entire fleet of vehicles. The poor girls had only managed five hours sleep, and they were driving again this morning!

But in the end, my night out had turned out to be more than ok!

SOUNDTRACK: “Don’t Panic” - Coldplay
Because Panic isn’t good.


Forming new friendships so quickly back in Kaikoura and Wellington had been great. Yet I had managed to shoot myself in the foot on this occasion, with my usual insistence on not staying in a larger hostel back in Wellington. Going solo again meant that I was the only one to wake up and get to Taupo that morning, so the ‘new gang’ were delayed by twenty-four hours from my perspective. But they got another awesome day in Wellington from theirs I suppose! As it was, I had an entire rainy day spent getting into Taupo, killing time in the afternoon in the internet café, until it was a reasonable hour to start drinking.

If I haven’t already mentioned it in an existing commentary, in retrospect it feels as if I spent too much time on the internet. I don’t blame myself now, it seems evident there ‘was not much to do’ in certain places. Though it always seems easy to look back and presume there could have been better ways to spend my time, I have to remember this was the first big solo adventure I had ever undertaken. I was missing my mates. I was missing my family. I was missing Hazel! I was missing all the creature comforts!

At the time, the internet evidently plugged me back into some of those for short periods of time. But I feel that all of the web time ‘tainted’ the travel experiment a little bit – not really getting away from it all as much I ‘should’ have done. This minor regret at is a luxury I can afford myself now, but at the time, I know I was more than happy to plug in for hours on end. Indeed, I’m sure my past-self would tell me to shut up and move on, and so I will heed that advice…

I do remember having a really good ‘go’ at trying to socialise with a set of strangers in the pub, but Will and the group of lads he was with didn’t really go beyond letting me join their pub team. Nobody is obligated to hang out with each other when backpacking of course, but it would’ve been nice if they’d have hung for another round after the quiz.

Feeling a bit put out, as I’d been ‘ditched’ it was a complete 180-degree turn when I walked into my dorm room and three beautiful blonde Norwegian girls turn at once and all say “Colin! You must be Colin!”

Three girls being in your room, all being evidently so excited to see you, is a very nice feeling indeed. Not something I had experienced before (or since) so a pleasant memory to treasure! Turns out that the three of them had read the name tag on my bag, and had been guessing who I would be, and when I would turn up. They were well into drinking even though it was already ‘late’, and they were planning to go back out. In the meantime, they had been struggling with their laptop to watch back their various DVDs (as mentioned) – evidently some of tech know-how I used in tweaking their laptop won them over further, and so we had a blast for an hour talking about New Zealand so far, bungee jumps and swapping stories about the UK and Norway.

I was evidently so thrilled to have some company that wanted to talk to me, and that found me funny (unlike the pub quiz gang) that I evidently thought f*** it to the ‘no drinking in a hostel room’ rule, and I finally cracked open my bottle of wine. I caught up to their levels of merriment, and then all four of us headed right back out to Mulligans.

Of course, there was no funny business. Just a normal night out for me! A humble Mancunian, with three blond Norwegian girls hanging off of my arm. It could be my memory playing tricks to make a story, but I’d like to think that Will & Co, who had been standoffish with me earlier, were suddenly my best friends when I returned with my new girl-gang. It was kind of funny to hang out with them as a foursome, knowing that we had no romantic designs on each other, but with the girls evidently knowing how to ‘play the room.’ Every free drink the girls got from a would-be admirer, they made sure I got the same. Every time a guy would try to spirit one of them away or get too friendly, they would hang off of my arm and get another round in. I felt like a million dollars! I’d gone from billy-no-mates to Charlie and his Angels!

The Bouncer on the door obviously thought it was hilarious. He had spotted me using my Dragonball Z wallet at the bar, and he was a big fan of the Anime. Not the first or last time that my love of cartoons and pop culture have done me well! I obviously must have bonded with the bouncer over Dragonball, and he found my return to the bar quite amusing, seeing as how I’d been a bit miserable and had only said goodbye to him an hour or so before. Turning back up an hour later with the three Norwegians, he laughed his head off! “Player!”

In chatting to the bouncer again, he found it hilarious how the guys in the bar were fawning over the three Norwegian girls. He imparted some of his worldly wisdom to me. “Those girls will be trouble my friend. They’ll cause trouble!”

No trouble happened that night, apart from maybe a few broken hearts… The three girls and I all left the bar at the same time, then headed back to our room, where I dare say the drinking continued…