1. Beach Bonfire- Since I arrived we’ve had 2 bonfires on the beach. Right before dusk a group of us head down to the beach to start it (we traverse to the very end of the beach so that we can’t be seen). Fires on the beach are by permit only. Additionally, everyone brings their own booze, and it may in fact be illegal to drink there. Anyway, we start the fire and hang out, drinking, talking, yelling, skinny dipping, singing, whatever. The nights are very cool here but the fire keeps us warm. Both fires went until the early morning. One was during a full moon and the reflection of the moon’s light on the water was beautiful.
2. Family Dinner/ Monday BBQ- I’ve mentioned the Monday night BBQ before. It’s fantastic. Those started just 3 weeks ago. Before that, every few weeks we would have a potluck, usually for someone’s birthday. Everyone would squish into the kitchen and make a dish (it is mass chaos with 30 people cooking on 2 stoves), then we’d shove the tables together, squish on the benches and eat together like a big family. Afterwards, we all help clean up.
3. Standup Paddleboarding- A few Thursdays ago I went standup paddle boarding for the first time. Basically, you stand on what looks like a surfboard, then use an oar to paddle out and about. The water was choppy but it was really fun. Mainly it takes good balance. I did fall in once, but I would for sure do it again. Unfortunately, the weather was too windy last week, resulting in choppy white caps so the outing was canceled.
4. Hitch Hiking- Waiheke is hitch hiking friendly. I’ve hitched countless times and always get a ride. Sometimes alone, sometimes with others. Usuallly I have to wait about 5 minutes before someone will stop for me. I’ve for sure met some characters this way, like a man with an eye patch who was a bit unfriendly and a woman who suffered a severe brain injry and had to learn to read/ write/ walk/ speak again. It’s fun not knowing who you’ll meet and what their story will be.
5. Saturday Market- Every Saturday morning there is a farmers market in a neighboring town. I went over labor day weekend and it was fantastic. Lots of food (I got a taco, my first Mexican food in New Zealand, incredible), second hand clothes (got myself some sweet shorts for $3), books, antiques etc. I’ve only been the one time but I hope to make it back before I have to leave.
6. Stair Challenge- There are 187 stairs up to the hostel from the beach. The beach is also where the bus stop is. So anytime you want to go anywhere, you’ll most likely have to climb the steps. They are a beast. The stair challenge is very simple, you run up the steps as fast as you can. Luke organizes and times it. The winners get beer or cider. It’s good fun having a short workout and cheering on my fellow travelers. I for sure yell and clap the loudest and am probably the most intense about it. The last stair challenge was 4 weeks ago (maybe? I can’t be sure) and I won for the women. My time was slow though, 44 seconds. The record is 33 seconds (which is crazy, that girl must have been a beast). There is another stair challenge right before I leave. My goal is to come in under 40 seconds.
7. Day Drinking- 2 weeks ago was Luke’s birthday. As is his birthday tradtion, he went on a walking wine tour to 4 vineyards and 1 brewery. Before he left he came up to the hostel and invited anyone who was around to come with him. I said I’d go and I ended up being the only person who went. It was such a good time. We started at 2 vineyards that are quite close to the hostel. After that we had to walk about 10 minutes to the next group of vineyards. We started around 12:15pm and spent just over 4 hours drinking before we got a taxi back to the hostel.
8. The Beach- It’s about a 3 minute walk to the beach from the hostel. Usually I go with people but last week I went alone for about 2 hours. It was very hot out, especially on the sand and in the sun, my guess is close to 90F, but the water was the perfect temperature, a little cool when you first go in, but mostly refreshing. I don’t know why this excursion to the beach is one of my favorite times at Kina, perhaps its because I was alone, or the weather and water were perfect, or there was hardly anyone on the beach, not sure, but it is one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had here.
1. Broken Tooth- Before I left for New Zealand, I had some dental work done on a tooth. A few weeks ago, as I was chomping on popcorn, that tooth broke in half. Legit. It didn’t crack, it broke into 2 separate pieces. The next day I was able to get an appointment at a dentist in town. He unfortunately told me the tooth is unsalvageable. Eventually I’ll have to get a fake tooth but for right now he pulled out the smaller part of the tooth that was digging into my gums, and then sealed the other side. It looks entirely normal but I only have half a tooth in my mouth. Cost me $290 NZD. My travel insurance does cover emergency dental so I should hopefully get some of that back.
2. Being Sick- The week of my birthday I was sick. It started on Sunday with my stomach feeling a little bit off. By Monday I was feeling awful, headache, chills, achey all over, tired all the time. Tuesday I felt a lot better and by Wednesday, my birthday, I was feeling close to normal. Unfortunately, Thursday I was feeling sick yet again, this time mostly stomach issues. I was tired all the time and was just feeling off. By Saturday/ Sunday though, I was feeling better and by Monday, the day we had a birthday party for me and another guy, I was pretty much normal. It was essentially a wasted week though. I did read a lot, which counts for something I guess.
3. Getting Around- The main reason we hitch is that the bus is 1) expensive and 2) does not run that often. It only runs once a hour and can cost up to $4.40 for a one way ride. As long as you’re not in a rush, hitch hiking is solid transport option. Mostly I hitch to and from the food store as it is a 40 minute walk form the hostel. Walking there isn’t too bad, but walking back is about 60% steep uphill.