Friday, December 05, 2008


After a laphroaig and some live music at the local bar, I find myself in yet another youth hostel, this time in Coromandel Town. The hostel is called the Lion’s Den and comes with a magnificent garden, Uruguayan backpackers watching Family Guy and an unfamiliar night sky telling me exactly how far I have travelled.

Despite all the stunning natural marvels, being on the road here in N.Z. is not the same as backpacking through the rich layers of history in the Balkans, Armenia or even Mexico. With the Maori culture nowhere to be seen, the country has this smell of newly built settlements, of colonial improvisation and recently acquired taste for exclusive Italian coffee.

Nothing wrong with any of that, it is just that as a tourist it makes you feel a bit like you are living a Lonely Planet guide from the inside. That being said, I have seen fantastic things today: orcas diving outside Kuaotunu, a beach heated by volcanic activity where I dug my own hot tub in the sand and majestic conifer forests.


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