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Leaving Auckland ended up being quite sad despite my growing resentment of the place these last few weeks. I'm glad my final days there were my happiest, but it was definitely time to move on.

A quick geography lesson for you. New Zealand comprises two islands of roughly equal size known as the North Island and the South Island. Auckland sits on the northern tip of the North Island, and Christchurch on the east coast of the South Island. Work paid for my transport between cities and gave me the choice of flying or going overland. As a man who once opted to sit on a boat for five days instead of a plane for three hours, this was a no-brainer. It was an awesome experience I feel very lucky to have had for free.


Auckland

Underneath the Auckland Harbour Bridge. I'd never been underneath a bridge before but kept getting flashbacks of being underneath a different bridge that looked very similar. It later clicked I was thinking of a level on Half Life-2. It's funny how video games can be so immersive they have the power to create fake memories.


Auckland

The University of Auckland put on a rail jam to mark the beginning of the new semester, just one of many events designed to put Nottingham's pathetic "Fresher's Fayre" to shame.


Auckland

I spent Tuesday with Rachel, a Scottish figure skater I met on Sunday underneath that bridge from Half-Life 2. It was her last day in Auckland so we did loads of touristy stuff together, including a ride up the famous Sky Tower. I already did a couple of towers in America (Baltimore, Seattle) so was reluctant about doing another, but it was actually really cool. We stayed up there for nearly three hours drinking Coronas and watching brightly-coloured lunatics tumble past our window.


Auckland

I spent my last day in Auckland relaxing in the park. I finished the book I was reading then had a massive nap underneath some palm trees. It's supposed to be mid-winter here but Auckland never really gets cold, one thing I anticipate missing when I reach the (much colder) South Island.


Auckland → Wellington

The ten-hour train ride to Wellington across rural North Island was really great. The scenery was a blast of fresh air following my month-long imprisonment in smogtown. Proper New Zealand is everything I had hoped it would be: muddy, foggy, grassy, hilly, and above all sheepy. Just really great.


Wellington

I managed to fit so much into my day in the capital it's ridiculous. Most of this revolved around meeting a French girl halfway up Mount Victoria called – get ready for this – "France". After exhausting Wellington's tourist sites, we went back to her's where her housemates (Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany) cooked me an amazing meal and got me really drunk. Lovely boys and girls I can't wait to visit again when I'm next in Wellington.


Wellington → Christchurch

I slept on the ferry between islands because I was a hungover mess. Fortunately, I had regenerated in time for my second rail adventure between Picton and Christchurch where I was once again blown away by the beautiful scenery. My favourite thing about these trains is the open air viewing deck, something you don't really get on planes. Health and safety.

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The jigsaw puzzle pieces I've spent the last three weeks forcing together without any success have been swept into a hurricane only to re-emerge fully assembled, and the picture is beautiful. To be clear, this is a metaphor for my current situation and shouldn't be interpreted literally. I've tried the hurricane trick with jigsaws before and it doesn't work.


Between looking for jobs and crying myself to sleep, I've spent much of my time in Auckland wandering around aimlessly. On Sunday I wandered up Mount Eden, Auckland's largest volcano. Lovely view!


I did it again on Monday because, really, why the hell not?


Tuesday was when the hurricane started brewing. I was sitting in the library when I got a call from a recruitment agency about a software job I'd applied to that same morning. They wanted to interview me. This was literally the first thing I'd heard from any employer (despite plenty of promises/blatant lies) so naturally I was buzzing. The company is in Christchurch (other side of the country) so we scheduled a Skype interview for the following day.


The interview went really well and a second, more in-depth interview was scheduled for Friday. I really wanted that job.


I chose Friday because it gave me a day to remember how the hell computers work. I hadn't touched any code for over a year so there were some serious cobwebs to blow away. It just reminded me how much I love programming though. I really, REALLY wanted that job.


The second interview went spectacularly and they offered me the job. I couldn't believe it. I don't have a picture to express how I felt so here's one of the docks instead.


This picture doesn't really fit in with the theme of this post but is worth a mention anyway. They were filming a John Lewis Christmas advert just outside my hostel. I guess they chose New Zealand because it vaguely resembles England and is cold enough to film in July. It was all very elaborate, with fake snow, fake postboxes, fake British-looking cars and buses and people. There were probably 80-100 people working on the set. It makes me feel a little bit sick to imagine how much it costs to put something like this together.

So what does this new job mean for the rest of my trip? I don't know. Certainly it means I'll be away for at least another year, but that seemed likely anyway. Aside from that, I don't know. One thing I've learned since I started travelling is that plans aren't really important. They're just arbitrary restrictions on your freedom that you very often end up breaking anyway, so why bother making them in the first place? I'll stay here for as long as I'm happy, and figure out the rest later.

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Photos from week two in New Zealand.


Realistically I don’t think I could live in a town without a tram system, so you can imagine my relief when I saw this glorious machine rolling towards me.


I could barely muster the concentration required to take this photo over this persistent, high-pitched screeching noise. Not sure what that was all about??


Auckland has a very popular ice rink. I’ve only tried ice skating once and I was terrible at it, so I’m always very jealous visiting these places because it looks like a lot of fun.


I often walk around the docks at night. It’s peaceful and gives me a chance to reflect on the fact I still don’t have a job and that my money from Canada is slowly but surely running out. Nice photo opportunities though, I really like this one.


I’m not going to try anything clever with this caption: it’s a seagull and a boat.


Billboards like these are dotted around the city, advertising nothing in particular. This one made me a little bit sad and vow to support my local bra shop more in the future.


Auckland Harbour Bridge casting its pretty reflection on Waitemata Harbour.

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Another week, another hemisphere.


Vancouver → ???

Bye Canada :')


???

My plane took off from Canada on June 24th and landed 13 hours later in New Zealand on June 26th. The whereabouts of June 25th is unknown and police are appealing for witnesses.


??? → Auckland

I arrived in Auckland completely shattered after two consecutive nights of almost no sleep, but was determined not to sleep which would have meant surrendering to jet lag. I caught a bus downtown, opened a bank account (I had previously been carrying around my entire savings from Whistler in my pocket), checked into a hostel, and spent the rest of the day wandering zombie-like around the streets of this scary metropolis I would soon call home.


Auckland

Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand.


Auckland

Auckland has buildings with windows.


Auckland

There's a story behind this photo. I was walking down Queen St minding my own business when a crowd of people emerged from the other direction. It was a protest against the closing down of TVNZ 7, New Zealand's only public service TV station. I took some photos and briefly joined in to figure out what it was all about. I walked next to some massive guy wearing a white hat and leather jacket. When I got home I Googled the protest and discovered Kim Dotcom - internet celebrity/criminal and founder of Megaupload.com - had attended the march. Cool. The website had a picture of this massive guy wearing a white hat and leather jacket, and the realisation hit me. I searched through my own photos and sure enough, there was Kim! He's the guy in the middle with the white hat and leather jacket.


Auckland

It gets dark in Auckland.

The Buckner Building

The Buckner Building is an old US military facility from the Cold War. It used to be Alaska's largest building, large enough to house 1,000 personnel and amenities such as cafeterias, libraries, a jail, hospital, cinema and bowling alley, but was badly damaged in the 1964 earthquake and condemned shortly after. The town can't afford to demolish it (it's full of asbestos and the only road into town goes through that tunnel) so it's been left in the unforgiving hands of mother nature and urban decay. Nowadays it serves only as a horrible stain on Whittier's otherwise beautiful panorama and place to go if you're into smashing glass. I had 12 hours to kill before my ferry so obviously I went inside.