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New Zealand roadtrippin p4: tattooevent after tattooevent

In the morning, I checked checked all my stuff: ink? Check. needles? Check. Machines? Check! I was all ready and set to go once again! I packed my gear and set off towards my guestspot at Steve Johnson’s City of Ink. The walk there was about half an hour on foot but I didn’t mind it as it let me see a bit of the city. Let me feel its vibe a bit. There is a lot you can learn about a city and the locals from a walk around. First thing I noticed, was that there were almost no tall buildings, or brick buildings for that matter. Nothing went higher than 3 stories. Later I found out that they didn’t want to build anything over 4 stories high anymore since the 2011 earthquake that nearly levelled the whole city. Christchurch is quite prone to earthquakes so now they don’t do high buildings anymore.

Whilst walking I could already feel we were a bit more to the South, the weather was still very pleasant and mainly sunny but I couldn’t go out without a sweater anymore. The walk towards the shop was mainly alongside a giant park. And pretty much everywhere I looked I could see greenery. They don’t call it the city of gardens for no reason. It had all the makings for a painting. Beautiful gardens, some rivers crisscrossing the city and a pitoresque landscape with lots of interesting buildings and wall paintings.



City of Ink was situated along a busy street a little further from the park. Full of coffeeshops, little restaurants, a shoppingmall,… and the city’s only Starbucks. It was easy to spot since the building was painted red and from the outside you could already see tons of artwork decorating the walls right up until the ceiling. I walked in and met a couple of the artists that were already preparing for a busy day. I noticed a nice sitting corner, where people were already waiting for their sessions. Not shortly after, the amazing shopmanager Michelle walked in, and it didn’t take long before we enjoyed casual banter and laughs over some delicious coffee. I was given a booth to get comfortable in, and set up all my gear. While I was getting to know the other kickass artists in the shop, a first client already popped up for me. And another of my flash taken! <3 And so went the days. Me trying to get new designs done in time, all in between tattooing and having laughs with the colleagues. I can only describe my stay at City of Ink as busy yet comfortable and fun! I would very much like to thank everybody for making my stay such a blast!! Michelle, Josh (monk_dbts), Redgie(soulwisetattoo), Smeagol (smeagoldoesart), Aggie (aggiesan_), Rays (rayz_em_up). Keep rockin! To end it in a party, we all went for some Japanese together and enjoyed a sublime dinner, after which I am sure I gained a few pounds!! (Such good food!!) It suddenly hit me that my guestspot was already over. Time had flown so fast and I forgot to take selfies with the crew or the shop!! Guess I’ll have to come back again!! ;)


A selection of my favourite works during my guestspot:



Bah, I hate the days where we switch destinations, pick up the new van, do groceries and try to make it to a good freedom camping before everything fills out... We travelled from Christchurch to Auckland to pick up our new campervan (a much better one than the last one), and after a quick surprise-visit to the Chapter two tattoo studio, we did groceries for the next 2 weeks and proceeded towards the Coromandel peninsula. There, a local famous hidden spot at the beach made all the instagram travellers go loco! The Cathedral Cove. A majestic, giant open cave that lets you walk from one beach to the next, depending on the tides. It was already getting pretty late by the time we arrived at the Coromandel, but we got lucky and found a spot where we were allowed to free camp. So we parked the van and went straight to bed.


Sadly enough, we were awoken by a sudden knock on our van window. No, not by some happy camper bringing us cookies but by some sort of security dude, who told us we were parked wrongly and would be fined 200 NZD for illegal free camping. This caught us complete by surprise as we are self contained and stood next to the free camping allowed sign. What we had not seen (because it was night and we were friggin tired) was that the arrow to indicate where you were allowed to free camp pointed the other direction. Meaning we stood just outside the allowed zone. We tried to explain this but to no avail, a 200 dollar fine was issued to us...

After driving through the Coromandel for a bit, we noticed a couple of strange coincidences: there were almost no free camping spots around, the few houses in the area seemed very luxurious (and offered people parking for money), the available camping areas were totally overpriced, and there were loads of 50+ spots public parkings. Making it very tempting for a lot of people to park the van for the night of course, with a fine as consequence... Sorry Coromandel. You are a leech!



It sucked but we were not gonna let this setback ruin the trip duh. Since we were up anyway, we headed to the Hahei beach parking lot, parked the van, grabbed our gear and set out towards Cathedral cave. The walk took about 1h 15 minutes but the views were great. You start at the beach and go up a rather steep part but are rewarded at the top by an absolutely magnificent view of the surrounding bays and isles. Then it’s downward through lush greens where you almost feel like you are in a tropical rainforest. After a buttload of stairs (claptrap would never be able to do this), and numerous fantail tits challenging you to heroic duels (before flying off), you arrive at a beautiful secluded beach. The first thing we heard was a thunderous crash as if a thunderstorm was right on top of our head. Confused at first, we quickly noticed that the sound came out of the cove. Waves crashed against the walls which the acoustics in the cave magnified, making the sound 10 times louder. The beach is a top location! We strolled around for a bit, checking out the other nearby hidden bays/beaches before returning to the car.






At that moment we noticed a lot of people started heading for the Cathedral cove. So, if you want to visit it, your might wanna do yourself a favour to go early.


We still had a full day ahead of us because it was only 11 am, so Haythim started reorganising the car a bit and I checked out the maps we received (together with our fine) from the local ranger, for other good spots nearby we could visit. Amongst the booklets, one picture of a gorgeous beach (at Opoutere) caught my eye and after showing it to Haythim we immediately set off. We found a free camping spot in the area and a good one at that! We had oodles of space for once!! Finally, a decent free camping spot with clean toilets, plenty of space and close to the beach. To make things even better we were allowed, though limited, to gather muscles, cockels,… to bring with us and cook. We weren’t really into that since an escape campervan isn’t the easiest accomodation to cook in...

The nearby beach was absolutely amazing! A superlong (almost endless) stretch of white glistening sand with almost no one in sight! During our 2 - 3 h walk there we saw maybe 4 people? And the waves, oh those waves, were made for wind and kitesurfing. Honestly Opoutere beach was one of our best finds here in NZ! And I might, maybe (not maybe) also have gathered a lot of pretty shells! :D And we saw a huge dead pufferfish lying on the beach. This was pretty sad, though c’est la vie? After our awesome and relaxing walk on the beach, we had still spend some time working on the blog, making more designs for the upcoming convention and read a bit. This day could not get any better.





you ain't foolin anyone mr Chicken. I know you's pretendin to be a human!

Next day we headed to Tauranga for another tattoo convention, but not before a quick visit to Onemana beach. Just like Opoutere, this is a beautiful beach but with a lot more people (there was a town right next to the beach so after short walk a quick coffee we continued to Tauranga. We decided to stay on a camping close to the convention for three nights. That way we had easy acces to showers, toilets, a kitchen etc. After settling in we met up with the other artists from Chapter Two (Alvina, Eggsy and Adrian) around 9 in the evening to set up the booths and have a quick bite.



The inside of the convention was just a bit bigger than the one in Rotorua: it was held in a huge hall, divided into alleys with booths big and small for all the artists. One alley was dedicated to Maori styles only, and the usual tattoo-supplyshop was present as well (though their supply was very limited...). A huge stage, screen and speakers as to make a big show later, and an area with a printer and a stencil printer. The people started pouring in, and we were trying to figure out how to work our boothspace with 4 artists. Conventions demand a flexible creative mind. Hygiene and functionality are the toppriorities, so a minimalistic work-environment works best. I’m not going to bore you with all the workdetails. Not a few minutes into the day, and flash got taken and appointments were made. In a moment in between work, I enjoyed a walk around the convention to check out the other artists, saying hi to a couple of familiar faces, and have some grub. I noticed more people having small flash out, and at the end of day one, I noticed a lot of people coming to the convention just to get a souvenir-tattoo. Bigger designs weren’t as popular apparently. It really all depends from convention to convention. That’s why I have both type of designs with me. ;)


A selection of my favourite work during the convention:



Needless to say we were again exhausted from a very busy yet superfun convention!! Thank you everyone on the team of Chapter Two for making me feel welcome yet again! And see you soon (ifyaknowwhatImean)!! So Haythim and I set off to continue our roadtrip through New Zealand!!

Ps: I promise I will remember to take more pics of the guestspots-people-conventions next time! >_<



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