When I told my hosts at Parrots in Paradise I was going to be in New Zealand in February, they made a point to tell me to head up North for Waitangi Day. However, financially that wasn’t much of an option, so decided to head to one of the events going on in Auckland. None were particularly near the city centre, but some navigating on the Auckland’s bus routes (which are many and often times frustrating) suggested the one near Mission Bay Beach was doable. As it happens, as I was leaving I ran into fellow backpacker Mark, who had intended on hiking his way there, so tagged along. He intended to camp out in the area to save money, which actually seems like a pretty smart idea…if not for the rather miserable wet weather we’re currently experiencing – first rainy day in a week and on the day of wide spread concerts, typical.
The festival was happening on the hill overlooking the ocean, with the main stage at the bottom, and the food stands and smaller stage up the extra additional hill (which is SO much fun when its wet). We’ve gotten there a little early, so we end up back along the beach and hanging out at a coffee shop to discuss everything from travel arrangements to politics – one of the more engaging conversations I’ve had in far too long.
When we headed back up, the main stage was heavy with its Rastafari line up, but there was no shelter, so we hiked up to the smaller stage and hid in the shelter to the side for a few hours watching the much smaller time local performers strut their stuff. There was one teenager who was pretty incredible – had a very impressive range. I got his name to check out his work on Facebook, but lost it before I got home…
Once the weather cleared up, we decided to head back down to the main stage and catch up one the main attractions. When we did, it was the start of a dance contest to win free t-shirts. Since I’ve never been one to pass up anything with the word ‘free’ in it, I rope in Mark to help me out dance-wise and manage to bag an XL and a canvas bag. Way too big for me, but does mean I have a new sleep shirt.
I’m honestly not much of a fun of rasta music, especially not compared to the local music we had been listening to, but it was enjoyable enough to listen too while lying on the grass. Ended up taking a light nap while listening to the artists, before deciding to say farewell to Mark and leave the festival and head back into town. While we were at the coffee shop, we spotted a cinema that was showing ‘The Finest Hours’, which I’ve been trying to see for a while but wasn’t airing in the city. Since I’d had my fill of live music, I figured I could finish my day with that.
The movie is based on a true story, where a tanker ripped apart in stormy weather, and a small lifeboat had to make it out to rescue the survivors. Despite impossible odds (having to get across a bay that was considered too dangerous to pass in the current weather, losing their compass, and not having any contact with the boat, they actually managed to track down the ship and rescue 28 men from the ship on a boat that was only designed to handle 12. It takes a while to get going, and most of what happened on the ship while they waited for rescue was fabricated, but when it hits its stride, it really sucks you in. Great way to finish the day.