In the 1970s we didn’t have digital and/or compact cameras, consequently I didn’t bring a camera along with me when I went to New Zealand. I also, remember thinking that I could pick up postal cards as they had better pictures than I could take. Big mistake! I don’t have a single picture of my trip to New Zealand!

I arrived in Auckland, New Zealand, and immediately fell in love with it! I stayed at the Logan Park Hotel on the top of a hill and I burst out laughing with my first view out the window. Across the street was a huge area of grass and there were sheep grazing. The bellman explained that it was a lot cheaper than hiring someone to mow the grass and, maybe being a naïve tourist I believed him!

Sober or drunk there are some things I will never forget about Auckland, one being the people I met starting with my leaving the hotel the first time. I had the Damon’s gay guide in one hand and a map of Auckland in the other and I had asked at the front desk where Queens Street was and they told me to make a left leaving the hotel and then another left, walk down the hill and it would take me there. In a short time I found myself at Queens street but had no idea where to go to find the gay bar in the guide. I, obviously, looked like a tourist and a young, good looking guy stopped and asked if he could help me and I told him the place I was looking for. He told me to follow him and it wasn’t long before we were down by the Princess and Queens wharves and he pointed the bar out to me. I asked him to join me for a drink but he said he wasn’t that way—I forget the term he used but I got the message right away. He told me to have a good time and hope I enjoyed my stay.

I don’t know how much, if any, things have changed in Auckland city since the 70s regarding bars but to me it was like a whole new world. You went up to the bar, ordered you drink, paid and then went to waist high tables where other men were drinking. I quickly learned that unless you specified ice when you ordered scotch you got it straight. There were 3 or 4 guys at the table and I noticed one smoking so I lit a cigarette. I stood there smoking and sipping my scotch when one of the guys, finishing his drink, asked what we were drinking, went to the bar and bought us all a round. Was he cruising? I didn’t know. Another guy took out a cigarette and offered all of us, including me with a cigarette in my hand, one. I held mine up and said, “No thank you. I already have one lit.” As soon as I spoke and they heard my accent the other guys turned into being my best friends. They couldn’t stop asking me questions about the “States” and they explained the ritual of offering cigarettes and buying rounds of drinks for everyone at the table. They seemed to be shocked that we didn’t do this back in the USA.

To make a long story short though I missed preplanned trips, or at least I think I did, set up by my travel agent such as going to the summit Mt. Eden and going to the War Memorial Museum ‘to see New Zealand’s finest display of Maori artifacts’ or going to the shores of Waitemata Harbor I did see a lot of Auckland that I would never would have seen before. The guys decided to be my host and though they didn’t know each other they decided who would take me where after they took me for a typical New Zealand dinner. I only stayed in Auckland for 2 days but I don’t recall ever meeting nicer guys on a trip or being shown such hospitality before. It even extended to my returning to the States and receiving two sheep skin rugs that one of the guys exported and that I still have.

Australians don’t take this wrong but the next time I come over ‘down under’ I will spend more time in New Zealand. I want to rent a car and drive from one end of the country to the other stopping in Wellington, Christchurch but starting in Auckland to say hello to one of the guys I met 42 years ago!

Posted July 11, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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