A Ticket to Ride

  • Downhome Magazine
  • Posted: Nov 30, -0001 12:00 AM
The bus that Jay and I took to tour Auckland

Wed. Feb. 1, 2012

This morning, Jay and I get up bright and early, slather on the sunscreen (I think I've learned my lesson!) and scarf down our breakfast on one of the benches just outside the hostel as we wait for the Stray bus to arrive. Just on time, the bus pulls up and the Maori bus driver takes our names and tells us to hop on.

After picking up our fellow passengers, we fetch our guide for the day, a likeable and lively guy named Chucky. He greets us with a rousing "KIA ORA!" (a Maori word - pronounced "key-or-ah" - which literally translated means "be well" or "be healthy," but is more commonly used by Kiwis to say "Hi!" or "G'day!"). Soon, we hit our first stop - Auckland's iconic Sky Tower.

Would you take a flying leap of the Sky Tower?

Chucky reminds us that we should be donning closed toe shoes today - no jandals allowed! - for an activity that will be happening a little later on. I look down upon my feet and frown as my toes smile back up at me. I look around and notice that everyone else's smelly feet are hidden from view, except for one other girl, so I start to feel a little better that there's someone else to share in my misfortune. At the base of the tower Chucky requests a coin. Someone tosses him one and we start to play heads or tails for a "prize" of some sort. My curiosity is piqued! But after several coin tosses, I'm ultimately booted out. A young German girl is the last one standing, and Chucky informs her that she's just won a jump from the 328-metre tall Sky Tower. I'm left deciding if this is supposed to be a prize or punishment! Jay and I chat 'er up with some fellow passengers while we wait for the German to fall (which she does - with much hearty screaming). Click here to watch her plummet!

Soon, we hop back on the bus and roll right along to our next stop - the lovely Michael Joseph Savage Memorial, which honours the first Labour prime minister of New Zealand. I jump off the bus, head straight for the green grass and flowers and drink in their intoxicating aroma, all the while saying a silent thank you that I'm here instead of back home in the dead of winter, trying to shovel myself out of the house. I stand in the middle of a big green meadow and take in the view of the palm trees framing the Sky Tower in the distance.

The Michael Joseph Savage Memorial

The view from the MJS Memorial. See the Sky Tower in the background?

After lunch at a local pub we head to the Auckland Harbour Bridge, where Chucky reminds us that those who aren't wearing appropriate footwear must stay behind. The rest are going to climb the monstrosity! He also says that if anyone wants to do a bungy, now's the time. It seems that a couple of brave souls have taken him up on the offer.

The Auckland Bridge bungy is actually the world's first harbour bridge bungy jump and is the only place in New Zealand where you can jump and dunk yourself in the ocean.

On the wall inside the office are photos of celebrities that have come here to take their big, flying leap - everyone from Katy Perry and Justin Bieber to David Beckham. Jay feels bad that I won't be able to join the group and offers to stay back with me, but, of course, I tell him to go on (after cursing at my toes a little more). He and the others get fitted with hard hats, go outside to get some group photos and eventually, head across the street to climb the bridge. I also make my way over to the other side of the road and plank down by the ocean. The one other girl that is wearing sandals (who was sitting at the front of the bus) comes over and sits next to me. I find out that she's doing a sort of internship and is studying tourism at school. We watch the group as they make their way across the bridge and the talk turns to bungy jumping and how she's afraid to do one. As the warm sun shines down on us we have a grand chat, and I actually start to feel kind of happy that I left my sneakers back at the hostel.

After a while, the group makes their way back and Jay and I vow to come here again (no jandals for me next time) to jump off the bridge.

About me...Linda Browne
I recently quit my job as staff writer at Downhome, boxed up all of my belongings, sold the car and moved out of my apartment - all to hang out in New Zealand for a while. Will it all be worth it? Keep reading to find out!