I can confirm that going to a bar to meet people works.

It wasn’t just a random bar-visiting, although the decision process certainly was. I was walking back from buying Banrock wine when I thought, eff it, I’m going to attend that drinks meetup.

It’s at TwentyOne Bar (Sky Tower) and there’s a Weekly Drinks that CouchSurfing members in Auckland organised. It was my first time and I was on the hunt for a travel buddy to do the 8-hour Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which is apparently the best hike in New Zealand.

There was a free Sangria. It tasted really good and because I’m a sucker for free things, that probably made it taste better.

When I arrived, there were already people talking and drinking.

“Are you looking for someone?” asked an old friendly-looking guy who seems to be working at the bar.

“Hey. I’m here for the CouchSurfing meetup.”

He then ushered me to a group of people. A fellow Jenn welcomed me, wrote my name on a sticky paper and stuck it on my shirt’s left breast. She’s from Paris but now lives in Auckland. New Zealand must be really good if a French is willing to leave her country for it, I thought.

“So is it better here?” I asked her, trying to figure out why would someone leave Paris (!!!).

“I miss the food from home and the atmosphere but the lifestyle here is wonderful.”

I asked what she meant about the lifestyle here.

“In Auckland city, in just 30 mins you can go hiking, surfing, or skiing. Easy.” She has a point. Even in Philippines, that’s something I can’t do.

I also got to talk to a kiwi girl whose favourite place in New Zealand is Abel Tasman, a tall Filipino guy who won’t give his age and just told me “Let’s work with that” when I said he looks 25, an Indian guy who doesn’t smell (Hey that’s a compliment. He was actually cute too.), a girl from Poland, another girl from Chile, a Filipino girl people with Asian fetish would hit on.

It was nice. But small talks can be tiring and my memory couldn’t keep up that at some point I asked someone again what they’re studying and had to do a quick facepalm when I remembered we already talked about that. So where are you from, what are you doing in New Zealand, what do you do, what do you study, are you a resident. Is this going anywhere, are we going to be friends. 

Another friendly-looking guy was standing next to me so I said hello and we talked. He’s from Chile, working part-time here, and studying English. He has travelled Europe and did some amazing hikes in Norway. His Brazilian friend came around. She was nice and reminded me of another Brazilian friend.

“My friend is leaving the country. We’re going to say goodbye to him. It’s at Provedor in Brittomart. Do you want to join?” asked Taina the nice Brazilian woman.

“Sure.” I was excited. This is what bar hopping feels like.

We walked to Brittomart. The wind was chilly but tolerable.

We arrived at the place, flashed our IDs to the bouncer and waded our way through the sea of people.

If you think Auckland doesn’t have enough population, visiting that bar would change your mind.

The way these people could enjoy standing too close to each other, you’d think Auckland ran out of bars and this was the only bar open.

“I didn’t expect it would be this crowded,” I told Christian. Especially on a Wednesday night.

We stayed for a few minutes then I said goodbye to them as it was late and I had to catch the bus.

Taina and Christian went home too shortly as I did. The bar was too crowded for Taina, and I suspect Christian was bored of it.

I arrived home at 11 PM. I was tired but had to shower as I smelt of cigarette. My jacket and body adsorbed a lot of that smell from the bar. Thanks, Science.

I cleaned myself, ate a peach fruit and a peach-flavoured ice cream (Yes, I hate peaches.), brushed my teeth, then collapsed into bed, my hair still wet. My pedometer read 11,565 steps. That ice cream was well-earnt.

And oh I didn’t find any travel buddy but I won two friends — Taina who gave me her number and Christian who asked for my Facebook account. It wasn’t a bad decision to attend that drinks meetup at all.