We weren't sure where we were going. Our best lead was the little Maori boy with the mohawk who'd befriended Stephen in the back of the bus... he was directing us... "not this stop... not this stop... here". Outside the main drag of the little town of Raglan we hopped off the bus and quickly pulled our huge packs out from the storage space between the wheels. We were on a hill looking out to the ocean, and unsure which way was what. We hadn't booked our hostel for this part of the journey, and I was madly thumbing through my guidebook trying to figure out where to go. Should we stay in a hostel in the main part of Raglan or go out to this Solscape hostel our new Austrian friend who was along with us for the ride, Stefan, planned to go to? It was closer to the surf spot but far from anything else. And wherever Stefan's hostel was, we were quite a ways from it, I knew that. I had barely opened the book when Stefan instinctively stuck his thumb out, and literally 1.5 seconds later a truck rumbled to an abrupt stop a few yards past us. I laughed in disbelief, threw my book in my pack and hauled it behind me, dashing over to the car along with Stephen and Stefan. I had read that in Raglan it was easy to hitchhike, but hadn't considered it as an option. One of many times you must toss aside the guidebook and go with the flow. We had gotten ourselves into a bit of adventure, heading for who-knew-where but feeling that the outcome was going to be wonderful. How could it not be, with the sea spread out before us and the sky a perfect blue?
Our driver, Franz, had long tangled curls and dreadlocks with blonde streaks from countless days of New Zealand sunbleaching. He was around our age and his car was full of construction equipment. "Yeah mates, I'll take yeh to this spot, we'll have a look at the waves, just gotta grab my dog." We rambled over the roads, pulled quickly in front of his house to get his dog, and continued on. "It's pretty much the same every day, yeh know, get off work, have a surf, later have a beer, and do the same the next day. Pretty relaxed eh? You'll like Raglan." We'd soon find out this was the vibe and daily ritual of most Raglan residents. Laid-back, super friendly, content to keep a small shop or work in construction or something, and worship the waves.
We pulled up to the spot Franz had mentioned. It was breathtaking. The views were endless and the green of the land and turquoise of the water were piercing. The three of us visitors took it all in, smiling broadly and our excitement growing. Franz deemed the surf to be good and got us going so he could catch some early evening waves.
So then he dropped us off at Solscape. As we pulled up I knew we'd done well to follow Stefan... converted train cars and cabooses sat scattered around a green field, sitting high on the hill with a sweet view of Raglan Bay. This hostel blew my mind. I couldn't stop laughing to myself... this place was ridiculous. Little tables and chairs set up in various spots invited you to come have a drink and watch the view until you fell asleep. The train car set-up of the remote hostel felt like you'd stumbled upon a secret spot and were some of a very few who knew about this little slice of paradise.
And that's really what it was... a couple days of paradise, making new friends from around the globe, playing in the surf, watching the sun rise after the rain, grilling dinner while the sun set... Exactly the adventure we were hoping for.