Matt, the hostel owner, preparing a big old dinner in the wok.

Matt, the hostel owner, preparing a big old dinner in the wok.

It’s mid-morning here and as I finish off a pot of tea, I can’t be happier with the rejuvenating stay I’ve had here at the 42b College House hostel in Whanganui. This town had everything a town could offer, from supermarkets, cafes, pubs, movie theaters, Saturday market, a Kathmandu, thrift shops and all of which were in convenient biking distance to the hostel. But despite how tempting the pubs and theater might have been, I was so much more satisfied by hanging out at the hostel and opted to forgo them. From a big, beautiful backyard with picnic tables, a view over the city and occasionally the mountains, and the wee call from the little deer, I sat out back often, reading, planning or enjoying a fine meal I’d prepared in the communal kitchen. And that kitchen, oh what a treat that was. I made healthy, nutritious meals and enjoyed the convenience of a big gas burner and more utensils and baking pans than I knew what to do with. I could only think of my friends Sarah and Kristen, who are a pastry-whizzes, and how they would’ve had a ball cooking up tasty concoctions.

The best part of my stay has to be the company I had. Matt, the owner of the hostel, has an incredibly warm spirit. You always knew where he was as you could hear his genuine laugh echo throughout the halls. I was very pleased to be around such kindness, and one night we even made a big dinner together, feeding 9 mouths. We stir-fried up some rice in an enormous wok and added fresh, top-quality and locally produced beef, cabbage, peas, carrots, onion and spices. On the side, a big green salad. I even tried a little bit of his home-brewed beer. Mmmm, yum.

I leave this hostel with a full tummy and an optimistic attitude. I’m hitch-hiking back to Tongariro today, in which the ever-changing and unpredictable forecast claims tomorrow will be “mainly fine”, maybe partially cloudy and on Tuesday (in which I will celebrate my NZ birthday), it claims to be “mainly fine.” Let’s hope.


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