Home > NZ, Travel > Sleeping with the sheep – A

Sleeping with the sheep – A

I am all happy and comfortable in the Antipodes(!). I must apologize for the really long break this post has taken. Between travel and planning it, I get time to attend classes and manage my days. September is spring time here and all the fabulous winter deals are just about getting over by the end of this month. When you are using a developing country’s money to travel in a developed country, backpacking on these deals is the best way to have fun. I have extended weekends (say 4-5 days) as I have classes for 3 days from 6 to 9 in the evening. So I plan to travel 3 weekends in Sep, saving a lot of money hopefully and that explains the lack of updates on this page. Please bear with me. I shall be regular soon. NZ tourism is so much organized, making it simple and easy for DIY holidays. But to start with, I go with one of the backpacker buses. I shall start describing my travel in reverse order, for the heck of it.

I travel with Magic Bus (after extensive research of other options like Kiwi Experience and Stray Travel mainly because of the ‘value for money’ 30% off discounted prices in Sep) on their ‘Top of the North’ pass. In this pass, the last overnight stay is at Mount Maunganui, a sleepy little coastal town in the Bay of Plenty on the Pacific Ocean just a little below the ‘very beautiful’ Coromandel. At 5.15pm, the driver drops us at our backpacker accommodation after a quick drive around the Pilot Bay, the Mount and the Beach Road. We grab a few pizza slices and a tea. This is a free extra with Magic. I ask the lodge owner about walking up the mount which looks so tempting. The Kiwis call every small height a mount (well, most of these mounts are volcanic cones) and they call walking ‘tramping’. Mount Maungaui and Tauranga are twin towns and are separated by the sea which a harbour bridge connects. So many harbour bridges here! 🙂

I start walking on the Totara Road, with good views of the large ships in the port. I join the Maunganui Road and reach the base of the mount in 30 minutes. There is one walking track around the base and two to the top. I ask one guy before getting on with the climb. It is a 4WD track and is very comfortable for the climb. On the way, I see plenty of sheep grazing in the pastures and many old men and women running past me to the top. Very soon, the harbour beach Pilot Bay looks magnificent. The Pacific Ocean is next. There are a few red and green lights blinking in the ocean. The Mount or Mauoa (crazy Maori names) is about 230m tall and the climb takes roughly half an hour. It gets dark by the time I reach the top. 6.30pm. There is a bunch of Scottish residents whose habit is to either walk the base or the climb of this Mount every Monday. One of them tells me today is a full moon day, but the clouds cover the moon and so it is eerily dark. The lights over the town illuminate the entire area and are a feast for the eyes. I take a couple of pictures.

There are few people left as I start my descent. I wait for a couple so I can use her torchlight. The dark scares me and I wish the path was lighted properly. The couple descend through another track and I am the only one marching in the same track I walked up. I have the sheep for company. It is a popular fact that there are 10 times (at the least) sheep than the humans. That is when I think of the title to this post. I walk briskly, occasionally hearing the strange sounds of the birds and other living or non-living(!) things in the Mount. I read there is no species dangerous to the humans in NZ than themselves and that makes it a little less worrisome. Most of the Kiwis I have seen have been good-natured. In any case, they have to. After all, tourism is one of their biggest revenue earners, with education. I am relieved when I reach the spa pools at the base.

It is a short walk to the beach. But at 7pm, there is almost no one at the beach. Is is because of the lean spring season? Is it because of the Monday evening? Are the Kiwis naturally early to bed and early to rise? I get back to the Maunganui road to grab a piece of fresh fish at a takeaway. The lady asks if I want it cooked or uncooked. She must be Japanese, I say to myself. I unhesitantly say, “Cooked please”. The fish is remarkably tasty, though it is bland. I return to my hostel and cook my dinner, before retiring for the day – my last night of travel.

PS: I shall try to upload to pictures to flickr soon. Till then, you could peep into my yahoo. Cya soon.

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Categories: NZ, Travel
  1. sk
    14 September 2006 at 2:50 am

    Wow Sparkie, the places look absolutely beautiful! LOTR was shot in NZ right? Beautiful land scape. So you touched Pacific Ocean on the other side ;–)

  1. 21 September 2006 at 12:25 pm

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