We had a leisurely start on the Magic Bus at 8:30am passing pockets of steam rising out of the ground from natural springs as we made our way out of Rotorua. Our first stop Tauranga, a city on the coast in the Bay of Plenty. The goal here was Mt Maunganui which we only had an hour to climb so it was a brisk walk to the top but a perfect day for it and well worth the effort.
Our lunch stop was in the small town of Paeroa known for the world-famous Lemon and Paeroa soft drink, known locally as L&P, which is often used as a mixer in bars and tastes great with Southern Comfort.
After that it was straight on to Auckland where we arrived just after 3:00 in the afternoon. I had contacted some old friends from Zimbabwe and arranged to meet up with them so after dumping my bags at the hostel I asked where I could catch a bus to the Browns Bay and the North Shore. The receptionist was very nice and said there was a stop one block down the road and looked up what number bus to take and said it should come every 30 minutes.
As I was walking down the road I saw the bus number come past so I had to run to catch it. luckily there were quite a few people getting on at the bus stop so it was stopped for a while allowing me to catch up. Once on I had memories of being back in Xiaoshan and trying to get from one city to another on the buses and trains. At least here the road signs were in English and the people spoke English, so after checking with the bus driver I followed our route on my phone’s GPS and an hour later I got off in Browns Bay and walked up the hill on a beautiful evening to their house. It was so nice to see them again after nearly 10 years and here about their experiences having immigrated to New Zealand. Likewise they were interested to hear about China and what I thought having lived there for 2 years.
I had a very early 7:15am start the next day so I didn’t take up their offer of having me to stay plus I had already booked my hostel so after dinner they dropped me at a bus station on the highway and within 30 minutes I got off the bus just outside my hostel and crept into my 12 bed dorm room. I did however make plans to stay with them on my way back through Auckland heading South but for now I was heading North to Pahia and the Bay of Islands.