Bicycle Courier in the City of Sails

Imagine a job where you get to be outside all day enjoying nature without supervision, meeting attractive receptionists, and getting exercise while performing your favorite hobby.  You don’t have to imagine long, because as the title of this post gave away, a bicycle courier gets all these benefits.

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Auckland CBD from the Harbour

 

A bicycle courier is a cyclist that rides around the CBD(Central Business District) of a city picking up packages and letters from one business and getting them to another business withing a short time frame.  There are only three requirements for the job.  First is a strong body.  Riding a bicycle up and down hills for over eight hours a day is not as easy as say, brain surgery.  Second is excellent map skill memory for it takes too long to use a GPS.  All addresses must be memorized, as well as the entrances and delivery point of each business.  Third might be most important of all.  A love of all weather types for there are no days off.  Blistering heat or typhoon are the same in the eyes of a bicycle courier.

I was lucky enough to be able to perform this job, if I can really call it a job since it felt more like getting paid for my hobby,  for six months in that most beautiful of places, Auckland.  The experience will be imprinted in a special part of my mind until I am no longer part of this planet(I’m hoping to become an astronaut, not die).

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Auckland CBD at night from my Flat(Apartment)

Auckland, as some people will know, is built into the hills.  I do not mean it is built in a flat area surrounded by hills, it is actually built into hills.  To go from the Harbour up the main street(Queen Street) to the motorway is probably the same elevation change as climbing Mt. Everest.  I would ride up and down and around this area dozens of times a day.  I remember one small side street that was so steep I could not ride my bike up it.  I would either have to push my bike up or choose another way around.  God I miss Auckland.

Since New Zealand decided to drive on the wrong side of the road(Damn you British), I had a bit of trouble adapting.  Bicycle couriers are aggressive by nature on the roads as time is money, and I had multiple close calls with cars when I first started out by crossing multiple lanes of traffic.  Nothing gets your heart racing or feet pumping like turning into an oncoming dump truck.  I believe this actually made me a better, or at least faster, courier.  Fear is a wonderful thing.

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Vero Center

The weather is my favorite memory of the whole experience.  I have never been shy of weather.  Here is a little known fact.  Water rarely melts people and dries fairly quickly, so it is ok to get stuck in the rain.  It rains quite a bit in Auckland so most days were a little wet, but that was just fine as it cooled me off.  What I wasn’t prepared for was a typhoon.  It might just have been a serious storm but in my mind it was a typhoon so please humor me.  The day proceeded as normal except with a few meters of water in the streets.  I had to use a snorkel to get from place to place.  It was amazing.  A seperate day I hit a batch of wet pavement and slid a good distance.  No damage was done except to my pride but people must have loved seeing a bicycle courier fall down, especially drivers.

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During a Typhoon

The receptionists at the businesses were also a perk of the job, or would of been if I hadn’t had a girlfriend at the time.  Oh well, at least it was nice to flirt a little bit and enjoy the view.

All day was not spent running from place to place non-stop.  Sometimes there was a lull, and this was a beautiful thing.  If I was down by the harbour I would sit on a bench and soak up the sun while watching the ships sail by.  It I was near the domain(central park), I would lock up my bike and walk around a little admiring the flowers and green spaces.

Even the packages themselves were sometimes fun.  When I was new I once picked up a 3 meter long tube.  It was supposed to be picked up by a car but there was an assignment mistake so I got it.  I should have refused and asked for a car but I didn’t know better.  So on that day people in Auckland got to witness an American wobbling through downtown on a bicycle with a 3 meter tube sticking out of his backpack.

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Harbour and Cruise Ship from my Flat

 

I dreadfully miss this time of my life.  Even though the pay was low and the benefits nil, it was the most fun I’ve had in my life.  It beats the hell out of being a chef, a job I hated but deeply respect).  It beats being a fireman, a paramedic, an engineer, and everything else I have done.

“I wanna live in the sauce.”

An Overview of New Zealand

The short and quick of it is that New Zealand is my favorite place on the planet.  Lets delve in a little deeper and see why that is.

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Let me start by saying that I have not just traveled through New Zealand, I have actually lived among the Kiwis.  I worked for a couple of months as a bicycle courier in Auckland and as a chef on the Southern Island, but those are both stories for another time.

Natural beauty.  It is well known that New Zealand has it and it is incredible.  Anyone who has seen Lord of the Rings(Terrible films) knows about this, but it goes deeper.  There are many beautiful and amazing places on the planet but there is something special about New Zealand that I cannot put my finger on.  The few days I spent at Milford Sound was my heaven on Earth experience.  Again, that is a story for a later time.  Auckland and Wellington are built into the hills which I love.  Going into the first floor of a building on one side and existing on the 7th floor through the other side is an amazing experience.  I could write a novel about the natural beauty but for this blog I believe I have said enough.

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The activity of the people is another huge benefit of the country.  Cycling through the country, skydiving, bungee jumping, paragliding, rugby.  The people love being outside and that suits me just fine.  I’m so tired of everybody sitting inside watching TV and sitting on the computer.  They take sport so seriously that when I asked if I could play rugby with them or join a beginners team they said no way since I hadn’t been playing since I was a child.  They would have killed me on the pitch.

I love that they refuse to let any American navy ships into their seas since America ignored their rule of no nuclear powered vessels in the water.  It was strange to see a Chinese warship ship docked in Auckland but no American ships.

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I have a few items I wish they would change though.  Driving on the wrong side of the road is one, though it does make going through roundabouts and parking lots extremely exciting.  The architechture is terrible.  I wish the buildings were a bit more attractive.  I wish it was the perfect country but it suffers from the same issues as everywhere else, such as tearing up the cargo railroad lines because the truckers lobby asked them to.

I really wish I could put on paper why I love this country so much but it is impossible.  It is just a feeling I had when I was there and have never gotten anywhere else.  If you have never been you really have to go and put up with the 50 hours flying time.   I will add a little disclaimer to this.  If you are the type of person that likes fake beauty, then Dubai and Las Vegas are for you.  But if you are like me and care more about natural beauty and less about what man can make, then New Zealand is your paradise.