Well, it’s been a crazy 2 years. I’ve seen 2 Australia Days, set foot in all 5 states, working in everything from an office to a roadhouse to an animal shelter, been financially wrecked and visually blown away. I’ve seen the Great Barrier Reef and sunken ships. Walked around Uluru and atop Mt. Ngungun. Held a koala and fed kangaroos. I never got to see the Whitsundays or swim with whales, but I’d be hard pressed to say I haven’t done plenty to make up for it. One day I’ll come back, hopefully with a driver’s licence, and do everywhere I missed this time around.
But not for some time – I now have New Zealand to conquer.
For my last day in Oz, I’m seem determined to spend as much money as possible. After failing to make Movie World yesterday, I’ve realised that with planning and some effort, I can still make it today. I check out of the YHA, and a quick bus trip later, head onto the theme park express bus.
I’ll only get about 4 hours, and I need to dump my bag in a locker, but I really love the rides at this park, so only feels right to say goodbye properly.
I’ve never actually been here first thing, so the line at the door catches me off guard, as do the lockers. The large ones can easily take my Osprey Farpoint 70, but they only take coins – $20 worth. So not only do I need to hunt down an ATM, I have to exchange it at one of the shops. Really need to invest in a coin machine there.
By the time my bag is safely tucked away, I bolt towards the superhero section, which has just opened for the day. Everyone’s headed towards Superman, so there’s almost no queue for Arkham. I’m on in 5 minutes, and it’s as awesome as I remember it. Can’t repeat my luck though, as the queue grows while I fly, and I wander over to Superman.
My timing couldn’t have been more perfect. First time around, I’ve barely waited 5 minutes before there’s a call for a single rider. I am the ONLY one in the queue, and get to cut past about 4 lines of traffic to get on the back seat. When I go on immediately after, I only have to wait 10 minutes before single rider gets me on the exact same seat again.
Sadly, it doesn’t worth a third time. Several more single riders and a much longer queue see to that, and have to wait a proper length of time. The queue has also grown, so I abandon any attempt for a fourth try, and instead wander out into the rest of the park.
The biggest problem is figuring out what’s worth waiting for. Most of the rides have very long lines, and my time is limited. I end up on the log ride, and then stroll into the stunt driver show mostly because it was open while I passed. In my last hour, I decided to go over to the Bat Shot, which marks my final ride at Movie World.
I could have stayed longer as I still had a good 20 minutes before my bus came, but the queues are just getting longer and I couldn’t afford to miss this connection – as it was I made it from Helensvale to Brisbane Airport for 3:30…and now have a train card that’s about $16 in debt…probably a good thing I’m leaving.
I’m flying out at 6pm with Quantas, so I still have a few hours. Despite this, it appears I’m the late arrival as the entire plane has been booked out. I’m forced to sit in a middle seat because I wasn’t smart enough to book online. Thankfully the flight is only 3 hours.
I also become extremely grateful for the buffer time when I try to check in, and the staff honestly don’t know how to process me. I have a Working Holiday visa for New Zealand, but it’s electronic. That combined with a foreign passport, and they didn’t have a clue how to handle it. It was clear I WAS cleared to fly, they just couldn’t get their systems to register it. Eventually they just threw up their hands, and said if the boarding pass had printed then clearly nothing was wrong, and they’d let New Zealand deal with it.
(FYI, New Zealand didn’t have a problem with it at all).
Once we touched down, I found myself waiting in the line of hell at New Zealand quarantine. It’s past midnight but there’s enough people here to pass for one of the rides I’d been waiting in earlier. I hate going through quarantine cause I’m never certain if I’m answering things right. Most the time people act as if I’ve been wasting their time when I tell them what I’m carrying, but hey, I’d rather waste their time than pay their fine.
However, it tastes so long to clear customs, that I walk out to see the airbus driving out of the carpark. It’s another half hour before the next one shows up, and I’m already dead on my feet. I end up looking at the shuttle buses, which are twice the price and trying to justify it, when I get a little bit of luck. Four other backpackers are grabbing this shuttle, and they’re all going to Auckland Base Backpackers, my hostel. Since it’s a group, the price is dropped, and the shuttle actually ends up cheaper than the airbus!
Auckland Base is one of the largest hostels in Auckland, and is situated more or less in the heart. You need to take a lift up to the reception on the third floor, where I get a little bit of bad news. One of the floors has flooded, forcing them to relocate a lot of people, and they won’t be taking any new bookings. They will honour the one’s already made, but I won’t be able to extend my stay here. Not great news, but at least I have a few days to find somewhere else.
The added bonus to this is that my room was on the flooded floor, so instead of a room with no window, I get a room with a pretty awesome view. Not that I cared, I passed out the second my head hit the pillow.