After a long flight and stop at Singapore, we finally set foot on the beautiful island of New Zealand. A country so far away from everything, yet offering anything adventurous you could dream up. This would be two months full of exciting naturehikes, discovering new culture and history, and enjoying yet another new tattooculture. Which is what was first on the agenda.
Our first stop in New Zealand was a city located on the North Island, where one fourth of the population lives: Auckland. To keep things convenient, we booked an Airbnb just a street away from the shop I was doing a guestspot at. Since Auckland is a big expensive city ( especially for us, who just came from Thailand), we opted for a cheap as possible accommodation. A room with a bed, a shared- living room, kitchen and bathroom. The hostess would also be living at the same appartement with her roommate, and we were requested to only cook vegetarian meals in the kitchen. Nothing we mind really. We’ve shared houses with lots of people while we’ve been travelling. And we have had awesome experiences! Sadly, this time we were mislead by the airbnb ad. You can understand our frustration when we set foot in the appartement only to discover that half of the living room was taken up by a 2 person bed… where her mom was sleeping and living. There was no roommate. The extra person living there was the owner’s mother. To make things worse, our bedroom was so small it just fit the bed and a chair. We could not even unpack our stuff. We had to keep everything in our backpacks so we could enter the room. … You know, I’m just going to stop here. It was a lousy airbnb and we felt cheated. That’s it. We felt incredible relieved the second we got our first campervan to travel around in New Zealand! We left the airbnb two days earlier, because we also were going to the Rotorua tattoo convention (more about that below).
So about my guestspot!
I couldn’t wait to start my guestspot at the wonderful Chapter Two Studio in Auckland city centre. I had been in contact with one of their talented resident artists, Alvina (alvina.tattooer) who let me know the works of the shop. I was warmly welcomed by all the other artists as well (@eggsy_tattoo @zoe.tattoos), not long before I met the owner + master artist Adrian (ad_tattoonz). We already enjoyed a laugh and the usual tattoo-banter in which we compared machines, brands of needles or ink, etcetera. The shop was the whole upper floor of a building. With a very high ceiling (=roof) with windows everywhere. The abundance of natural light made for a very open, pleasant area to work in. A cozy sitting area to receive the customers, bathroom, kitchen and storage area, and an office corner. The rest of the space was filled with tattoo workstations, build in a way to easily move the equipment around, as at least 5-7 artists could be working at the same time. There was also a nice roof terras full of greenery where people could enjoy a break or a smoke. I really liked the layout of this shop!
The next couple of days I eased myself into the shoproutine: the morning coffee, receiving customers, having fun with the colleagues, tattooing, drawing, ... I can honestly say I felt very at home so far from home, and it didn’t take long before I became good friends with my colleagues. So much, they invited me to come with to the Rotorua tattoo convention! If only to enjoy their great company, I wanted to go! So we planned that baby right into our agenda. Now I won’t go talking about every single customer I had during my guestspot. But I do have one particular story to tell, as it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Two gentlemen walked in the shop not so long before closing time. They hoped for some tattoos as a souvenir of New Zealand, and Adrian and me happily agreed to do it. As we were setting up booth, Haythim who was also chilling at the shop inquired to their jobs, as it seemed they were also two travellers. Seems that they were professional stage builders who were travelling along with some band all over the world. I nearly shat my pants seven colours finding out that they were travelling with Queen... No, I’m not joking... Try to keep a steady hand tattooing ey? Nah don’t worry. But yes, apparently these guys share the random ‘Goodmorning’ with no other than the drumvirtuoso Mister Roger Taylor and guitargenius Mister Brian May!!! Not a while of casual banter later, they said they’d give us some free tickets to the Auckland Queen + Adam Lambert concert... Let’s just say I am never ever doubting my career choice. Ever. Again. I had no idea where to begin to express my gratitude!! Only that these guys can ask me for a free tattoo anytime!
So right before we headed off towards the Rotorua Tattoo convention, we picked up the campervan, and took off to the Queen Concert. I was very nervous because this’d be our first time seeing Queen with Adam Lambert. I had no idea what it would be like! And it would be Haythim’s first time too, since he had never seen them live before! But as the show started, the guitarstrings sang, the drums beat, and the singer strutted down the stage, we were immediately caught in the groove! The concert was fantastic!! Every second of it was absolutely brilliant. To see Queen so alive and having fun on stage was bliss! So much songs in such (what seemed) a short time!! This evening concluded a wonderful period of guestspotting at Chapter two, a shop with such warm, wonderful people, I would definitely come back again in the future. And even though next part would be a part of our roadtrip, I still consider it as part of my job, since it was a tattooconvention with the wonderful colleagues from Auckland!
After the concert we immediately took off towards Rotorua. Even though we would’ve liked to arrive at the tattoo convention as soon as possible, it was already so late at night we couldn’t go on any further due to sleepiness (it was 2 am by this time and roads in NZ have no lighting). So Haythim pulled the campervan on a free campingspot at Matamata for the night. A little village, known for its tours to the famous Hobbiton movie set (Lord of the Rings). In the morning we quickly continued our journey to Rotorua. A city famous for its sulfer pools, hot water pools and creeks. The second you drive into the city, you give your partner a suspicious look as the rotten-egg-smell sets in. But no, nobody cut the cheese here (unless the entire village did). The hotpools are so hot, there are literally clouds of steam coming off them and spreading into the road. We drove up to the convention area and met up with our lovely people from Chapter Two. They had already everything set up, and it didn’t take long, before all four of us were busy tattooing. The convention was held in a large hall, with (I think) four alleys full of booths. The middle one was dedicated to all the Maori artwork, from tattooing to craftwork. All very beautiful and impressive to behold (see video). A part of the hall was dedicated to artists only, where you would find the usual coffee stand, water, printer and stencil printers. The layout of the main hall was very clear, and even though this convention was a first in Rotorua, it drew loads of people, and I noticed all the other artists there had work as well! The afterparty was pretty much legendary, talking up with other artists, hanging out with the crew, before carrying Haythim to the campervan, due to an overload of tequila...
Thus concludes my tattoo-business at the Northern Island of New Zealand. For now ;)
Next up is a whole period of campervanning!