Weekend Adventures: Goat Island
Saturday (March 3rd) was a pretty low-key day. I had finally started feeling better from a cold; as some of you have noticed I’ve been struggling with that lately. But what can you do, right? Most of our plans (like the Guinea Pig Festival and French Food Market) fell through due to rain and lack of motivation. I decided to walk around campus and take some pictures between afternoon downpours. It was actually kind of fun, like I was playing a game with Mother Nature. Obviously she one. Later I worked through my to-do list and hung out with friends after taking a group trip to the local market to stalk up on groceries for the week. Saturday night we had movie night and
watched Ratatouille. It’s one of my favorites and always makes me think about my Mom and the year-ish we spent in Paris. Anyway, after that most of us went to bed because we had to get up in the morning for our next adventure: snorkeling day-trip to Goat Island.
What a fantastic day! 10 girls from Loyola booked the trip through a local travel agency that we’ve built a pretty good relationship with and headed there on Sunday morning. None of us really knew what we were getting ourselves into except a day of “snorkeling and great beaches”. Lunch and a stop at a pub were also included in a great college-budget price so how could we say no? We woke up early and made it to the meeting place around 9am. We were waiting for our ride for about 15 minutes and got a little uneasy that something was wrong when a mini-bus came barreling around the corner. It abruptly stopped in front of us and the driver popped out of the cab and said, “Right, are you with me?” to which we replied, “Depends, where are you going?” After it was decided that we were all in the right place, introductions were made and we piled into the van with James (for details Skype me, and trust me, you want details). Sitting in the front seat on the passenger-side in that van was one of the more terrifying things I’ve ever done. Not only was I on the wrong side of the car, on the wrong side of the road, it was also a standard so the stick-shift was to my right, James’s left. So weird! I covered my eyes when we made right hand turns. But eventually I got used to it and was able to relax. We listened to so really awesome Kiwi music and I fell in love with a couple of new bands. I’ll post the links up to some of my favorite songs for you to enjoy later. Along the way to Goat Island we stopped at a Rugby pitch for a photo op. The field overlooked a bay but the tide was out so the view wasn’t as amazing as it could have been but we didn’t care. Poor James had a really hard time trying to work Erin’s Dslr camera and eventually gave up and she had to take the picture. We couldn’t stop laughing.
We moved on and in no time were at the surf shop to pick up our wetsuits, masks, and snorkels before hitting the beach. There were a lot of people there (but no Goats) doing everything from sitting out to scuba diving. The water was pretty chilly even with the suits on so we only stayed in the water for about an hour. We saw some pretty interesting fish and a lot of rocks and seaweed. I still can’t get over how clear the water was. We swam out to Goat Island and cruised around its cost until we just couldn’t stand the cold anymore. I was the last one out (of course). We swapt stories on the beach for another hour before returning are gear and heading to lunch.
The restaurant was a local little dive with the best fish and chips I’ve ever had—which isn’t sayin much because I’ve only had fish and chips once before but that was really good too! I the fact that I was a little chilly and tired from snorkeling and sitting in with an ocean view didn’t hurt either. fter we were sufficiently stuffed it was time to hit up another beach. This time there was a little less chatting and a little more snoozing. I took a walk down the shore line and found some awesome shells to add to my growing collection. By the time I made it back a few of the girls and James had started an impromptu volleyball game without a net. It was pretty funny to watch. Before we knew it, it was time to move on again. It was not easy to leave the glorious sunshine but James hadn’t led us astray yet so we headed out.
Next stop: biker bar. Yes folks, ten American college girls and one kinda surfer-dude Kiwi went to a full out, legit, biker bar. I don’t think I’ve felt more out of place in my life. But the bar itself was awesome. It was covered in money, photos, and various other kinds of paraphernalia giving it a great personality. We kind of likened it to the Paper Moon Diner, but way more hard-core. After shaking off the stares of the patrons of this fine establishment we found a length of picnic table outside and settled down. We ordered a round of New Zealand beer that hit the spot after the day in the sun, and then we ordered another. We were all chatting and getting along great when a couple of the locals started taking an interest in us. Our reputation as college kids obviously preceded us and one of the men in the group challenged us to a drinking game. It was the equivalent to a “waterfall” where the two sides of the table race each other down the line to see who can finish their drink first. Once we all had our drinks in order the lovely gentleman who challenged us decided that he just wanted to be a referee and make sure none of us cheated. Uh-huh. He was scared. Needless to say my side of the table one and we earned a little respect from the onlookers cheering us on. Fun fact: in New Zealand they don’t say “chug” when downing a beer but “skull”. I did not know this until after the competition was over and I have to admit it was a little unnerving hearing these bikers chant “Skull! Skull! Skull!” while we drank. Anyway, a little giggly from the sun and suds we piled back into the van and headed home singing as loudly as we could to our new favorite songs we learned only a few hours before.
It was still pretty early when we got back to Huia and some of us weren’t ready to call it a night yet. Since we had all planned ahead and were ready for our lectures the next day anyway, we made plans to meet up with James in town after dinner to explore a little. He is originally from Wellington (in the southern part of the North Island) and only moved to Auckland a few weeks before so we decided that since he showed us around we had to return the favor. Sundays are obviously not a big “going out” night here so we went to a nice bar, grabbed a booth by the pool tables and just relaxed. After a while we decided to see what the scene was like at another bar in town. So we walked there, met up with some more friends who had been out surfing earlier in the day, and caught up. It was the perfect way to end a really chill day with a new friend.
Fun Fact: there are no snakes in New Zealand.
Many Maori priests, once exposed to Christianity, developed a kind of fusion in their religious practices. They found the bible passages involving snakes (like Adam and Eve in the Garden and Moses’ staff) particularly interesting becausesince there are no snakes in Maori, there was no word for snake in their language. The missionaries figured that “lizard” or "Ngarara" was close enough and just used that instead. Lizards already had a huge spiritual meaning to the Maori in that they were messengers between the living and the realm beyond death and those who occupy it called Te Nakahi. Of course the missionaries had no idea this was the case. But there you go!