Picton, Plimmerton, and volunteering

As I mentioned in my last post, I had to leave Wellington because of the madness that was the Homegrown Festival. I took the ferry to Picton and stayed at The Villas backpackers.

My first day was a bit chilly and overcast, but not bad. The hostel has a dog and they allow you to take her with you on your hikes, so Millie (the yellow lab) and I went for a great hike. It was about 4 hours long and quite intensely uphill for parts of it. Millie ate lots of poo along the way, but I held out for my hummus sandwich at the halfway mark.

That night, I made friends with a couple guys from the hostel and we all went to dinner together then played in the playground on the quay (pronounced “key”).

The next day I went for a half day kayak. Since it’s just me, no kayak company will rent a kayak to just one person, so I had to do a guided kayak. Luckily it was all couples and me, so I was in a kayak with the guide (the very sweet Cole). As we went along, he pointed out sights and such, but mostly I asked him to help me kayak better, so I basically got one-on-one kayak lessons!

Right afterward, I left for the ferry and got back to Wellington at almost 11PM – and the last train to Plimmerton was at 11. I ran across the street to the train station and caught the train just before they shut the doors!

The nice people from my hostel, the Moana Lodge, came and picked me up from the station and gave me a room by myself for that night. I fell asleep listening to the sounds of the ocean, which is right outside the hostel.

Yesterday, Monday, I was supposed to meet the volunteer coordinator for the SPCA at 3. I got there only to find that she wasn’t in, so I met the woman in charge of the puppies, Rebecca. I spent 2 hours walking puppies and then wrangling them into their nighttime cages with a fellow new volunteer (and motorcyclist) Sam.

I was a bit disappointed in the SPCA here. First, their facility is at the end of an alley outside Wellington city; second, it’s not very modern or inviting; and third, we got no training or real guidance in how to do things properly. I found that we kept making mistakes (like letting all the puppies from one cage get the better of us) and didn’t learn until after we made the mistakes. No wonder they’re short of volunteers!

In the end, I’ll probably go back and work with adult dogs or cats. But they could really use some organization and some upgrades.

Last night I came back to the Moana reeking of poo and ready to make dinner. I did laundry and cooked an actual real meal – with vegetables and all! While cooking, I met a really nice guy from North Carolina and we ate with 2 women from Oregon. We had a great time talking at dinner and exchanging stories of NZ.

After dinner, I sat down to read and found that it was a little too noisy in the common room, so I went to my bedroom and found that my roommate was the guy from dinner! Funny coincidence.

Re reading…I’ve decided to read all the Pulitzer Prize winning novels, so I just started Independence Day by Richard Ford.

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