I set out from Whanarua Bay with no real plan of how far I'd go. I have been avoiding set hopes and plans as I tend to have no clue how my legs are going to handle a day. As I mentioned before the hills, though smaller on average, are often extremely steep and can be pretty exhausting. Again the day cut in and out of the coast with the same beautiful weather I've had all week. I was glad to see some clouds though, which gave occasional relief from the heat of the sun.
I passed camp site after camp site as I was feeling pretty good and enjoying the day. I make it over Maraenui Hill and decide to skip the Hawaii Bay and head the remainder of the way to Opotiki, a small city. When I get to town I realize the motorcamp there is $20 and I'm not willing to fork that out so I try roaming around for backpackers. I discover Central Oasis Backpackers which seems pretty nice and only charges $12 to pitch a tent so I'm sold.
It's pretty packed with working holiday kids and as it was Saturday night most of them were ready to drink. I was enjoying hanging out with them so this was fine with me.
A New Zealand thing that I haven't talked about before is the fact that shoes are pretty much optional here. Most establishments have signs about leaving dirty work boots outside so it's common to see people kick off their boots and go in socks but its also common to see people on the streets or in stores completely barefoot. I mention this because they were heading to get more beer and I decided to join but could not find my shoes and was quite excited to finally take advantage of this shoes-optional policy and hopped in the car without. Felt strange walking around a supermarket barefoot, though.
So I had some beers as they worked to cook the mussels they caught that day in various fashions. Had Belgian style, more normal cooked versions and even mussel patties. This was the first time I've tried mussels, I enjoyed the taste but not the texture. The patties fixed the texture problem, though.
College is something I spent a while wishing I could go back to, I usually feel when I'm at hostels full of working holiday travelers that this is the closest thing you can get to being in college again. You live in a dorm room, spend most of your time not at work watching tv or drinking and instead of complaining about class you complain about work. To top it off there's no homework this time! At this point I wouldn't really want to take one of the fruit picking jobs but pay seems descent, something like $15/hr.