Today really hasn’t been one of my favourite days in New Zealand as we’ve spent 11 hours of it sitting on a bus on the way from Wellington to Auckland. If we were travelling on the Greyhound buses in Australia, I don’t think it’d have been too bad at all; I like the opportunities you get to just sit back, relax and reflect on everything we’ve been doing but on the Naked buses, you just can’t do that. It’s a shame really with it being our last day and all but there wasn’t much we could do so I just braced myself and got on with it. The only other option was to refuse to travel and we really didn’t have that choice!
After a pretty awful night of sleep, I think we managed about 4 and a half hours, we got up at 8:15am and left the hostel to catch the bus to the railway station. Annoyingly we’d only got top bunks so when people came in and out and refused to turn the light off, we’d struggled a bit with getting to sleep and so struggled even more with getting up. Luckily the bus stop was just down the road and it came almost immediately which meant we could just get on and go with time to pick up some snacks for the ride.
At 9:25am, standing at the bus stop, we were greeted by the best sight ever as the bus turned the corner and came towards us. We actually had a proper Naked Bus. Hooray! Our travel around the North Island hadn’t exactly been the best before, often with us on some pretty old buses, so it was quite a relief to see that we’d at least be in a bit of comfort. Well. How wrong could we be? It turns out we could be very, very wrong. We were going to be on a sleeper bus for the full 11 hours and whilst that seemed like fun to begin with, my excitement soon turned to incredible disappointment. You see, when the beds are folded away they form two seats which face each other, quite like the trains seats with the tables. There were no tables here though and barely enough space in between each seat to put your legs. To make matters worse there were no seat-belts either and I soon discovered that if the driver braked slightly, I had to cling onto the window ledge to prevent myself flying away. It was horrendous, not to mention very dangerous and I was so, so annoyed that we had to put up with it for so long.
A couple of hours later and we arrived in Taihape for lunch. I was so glad to be able to get off and stretch my legs as the only way we were able to fit in the seats with our bags was with me sitting on my feet. It was horrendous. It didn’t help matters that we also had someone sitting opposite us with two huge bags that took up the rest of the floor space. Grrrrrr. I’ve no idea why he didn’t check the bags in so they could be put underneath the bus rather than crammed in with us. It seems that for the sake of $5 he was willing to not only squash himself but us as well and that was very annoying. Fair enough don’t bother if you’re only going on a short journey but he was there for at least 9 hours. Just ridiculous really not to mention a bit selfish too. Anyway, once we were off the bus of pain we quickly ran over to McDonalds so we could get something to eat and I could have my last Georgie Pie. I love that they do pies here and I’m really going to miss them; I think that’s the northerner in me! Unfortunately it took so long for them to actually give us the food that we ended up having to shove it in our mouths sat on the kerb by the bus so we weren’t left behind. Not the most pleasant way to eat our lunch but it was still delicious. Mmmmmm.
Back on the bus and now full of pie and chips, I sat back ready to endure more hours crammed in and tried desperately to block out the fact we still had so far to go. Luckily I had my kindle to keep me occupied for a little while and that interspersed with the beautiful scenery meant that I forgot the aching in my knees for a little while. We went passed the Tongariro national park with it’s amazing snow capped mountains and got to see Mount Doom (Mount Ngauruho) too which was nice and reminded me of all the lovely things we’d seen over the last 3 weeks. It’s easy to forget about things when you’re so angry and uncomfortable but those memories definitely helped the situation we were in. A little while later and now feeling a lot more relaxed about the whole thing, we arrived in Taupo. Oh dear. It was very, very busy. I could feel my relaxed state and calm thoughts ebbing away when a group of loud American girls hurtled towards the back of the bus where we were sitting. They’d decided to not bother checking their huge bags in either and so had settled upon blocking the aisle and the limited amount of space between the seats instead. If I was uncomfortable before I was even more so now and absolutely raging. It was completely and utterly ridiculous. Naked Bus, though not great before, had really dropped in my estimations and as I sat there packed in, I mentally wrote my complaint. Never, ever again will I ever travel with that company. Never, ever, ever.
We had one more rest stop before our final destination of Auckland and I found myself practically hurling myself towards the exit to escape. Hours of having to listen to shouting and screeching coupled with non stop eating and being constantly hit with the girl opposite me’s bag had totally drained me and I was in desperate need of some fresh air. Now, it sounds as though I’m completely intolerant of people but that’s really not the case at all. I was just struggling with a lack of sleep and the fact that so many people seem oblivious to the fact that they aren’t the only people around. When we’re so careful not to disturb others or get in their way, it’s a little bit annoying when we’re not treated with the same respect and it can be very infuriating like in this case. Still, we had half an hour away from it all and managed to get a free trial of the Spark wifi, some NZ phone network, so we could check in online for our flight tomorrow. I like that you can do that as it saves so much time in the airport and means that you can make sure you have decent seats. No more seat anxiety for me! Sadly the break time just disappeared and we soon found ourselves back on the bus, back enduring the noise and the cramped conditions and back praying it would all be over soon. Just a couple more hours to go….
Almost in Auckland and I could feel myself begin to relax again as I knew we would soon be free of the hell that had been that journey. It wasn’t over yet though and as we reached the bright lights of the city, the girl opposite Codie decided to throw up everywhere. Luckily for us we’d had a bit of warning and she’d been found a bag but I’d made Codie move our things just in case. I’d had had one vomit splattered back before on our NZ visit and I didn’t want another! As you can imagine, when we pulled into the bus stop I was absolutely over the moon and leapt of the bus desperate to get as far away as possible. We’d booked into the first hostel we’d stayed in in Auckland, the Queenstown Backpackers, and so whilst it wasn’t the best in the world, we knew it wasn’t far away and made it there in no time. Hooray! The ordeal was almost over! We were given a room by the lounge area which was handily just by the stairs and after making sure our bags weren’t overweight and printed all the paperwork we needed for the flight we headed out into the rain once again. We had intended to make some of our left over noodles for tea but everything had taken so much longer than we had anticipated and the kitchen was now closed. Hmmmm. We ended up back at McDonalds (I know, very healthy) for a tasty late night treat and then filmed a short time-lapse for our New Zealand film. Cyclone Pam had started to affect the NZ weather so it was a little bit wet and windy but I think it’ll still look good with all the bright lights. I’m really looking forward to putting the film together. It’ll be great to have a look at all the places we’ve visited in one place and be reminded of all the good things we did.
Today hasn’t been the best day in the world and I am so glad that it’s almost over. I’ve said in the past that I kind of wish that we’d used the Kiwi Experience rather than the Naked Bus due to there being so many older people and less of an atmosphere but I think after today, I’m glad we didn’t. I don’t think I could have coped with so much noise! I’m sure it’s great and you meet so many people but for me, if I’m tired and just want to sleep, I’d rather keep myself to myself for a bit. That’s perhaps the only good thing the Naked Bus is good for. That and perhaps the occasional nice driver. Other than that I think it’s a terrible way to travel as it really drains you and dampens your excitement. Grrrrr. I’m not sure how much sleep we’re going to get tonight as there are a lot of loud people in the room and the mattresses are so incredibly thin, I can feel metal stabbing me in the back. Need to try though as we’re up at 4:00am for the trek back to Brisbane so it’s bound to be a long day. I’m really going to miss NZ and I wish we could stay longer but we’ve got 3 weeks left in Oz and I’m sure they’ll be just as much fun. I hope so anyway!