We can’t believe we’re here. This is just freaking ridiculous. J
13 ½ hours after flying out of Los Angeles we landed in the Shire – 2 days later. That Thursday morning from the plane we saw the most incredible red sunrise filling the sky – which of course lasted 3 times as long as normal sunrise, since we were flying West right along with it. Shortly after we arrived on a strip of land, adjacent to green, rolling hills on one side, and the stormy Pacific on the other.
The flight, the Auckland airport, - all around a good experience. As we’d heard, the Kiwi people are extremely nice. Getting out of the airport took a while because the New Zealand government is very protective of their environment and we were screened through bio-security – and had the dirt cleaned off from our hiking boots for us. J
Our itinerary began with 2 days in Auckland. We picked up our cute, little rental car. JP would describe it as, “generic, sub-compact, 5-seater with more room than it would appear – kind of like a Harry Potter tent.” It’s a manual…. We’re both used to driving automatics…. And the driver’s seat is on the right side…. And yes, in New Zealand you drive on the left side of the street.
To be continued…… We’re actually pulling over right now so JP can teach me how to drive this little car!! …heh.
Sweet. JP gave me an A- on my driving lesson. Yeah, I stalled a couple of times… but mostly I got it. The only thing I didn’t get was reversing. However, I was reversing on a hill, back around a corner, on a gravel road – not to mention on the WRONG side of the car. So those variables may have had something to do with it.
K, back to Auckland. Auckland is definitely a big city. We sort of felt like we were in Seattle again. Auckland even has it’s own space needle called the Sky Tower.
The people dress REALLY trendy and I felt a little intimidated in the outdoorsy clothes we packed, but as JP reminded me, out of the whole year we’ll be here, we have a whopping 2 days scheduled for Auckland. Observations from the city:
· * pretty dang expensive
· * birds appear to be allowed to fly around and eat leftovers in cafes…
· * pedestrians fill the entire intersections, going every which direction directly through the middle – during the free-to-walk lights
· *Most of the people are in pretty fit condition
· * There are a lot of Asians and Indians in the city – mostly students
· * No free wi-fi, but a LOT of internet cafes – it seems that there’s free coffee everywhere – but you always have to pay for internet
· * A lot of cafeteria-style restaurants
· * Cars look the same, and many of the same stores and fast-food restaurants (I’ll admit shamefully that we’ve actually been to a McDonalds twice at this point… first time for milkshakes, second time for chicken nuggets…)
· * Gas prices are consistent throughout the North Island - $1.73/liter
The hotel we stayed at, Jucy, was in the middle of the business district – it was definitely more of a hostel, but we really enjoyed it. It felt good to have a place of our own as a home-base. The people there were really nice. The employees seemed to all be travelers. The girl we talked to the most, Eleanor, was Irish and had recently travelled throughout most of East Asia.
Our first day in Auckland, we were very sleepy and went to bed just a little after 6pm, but the next day we got out early on foot to survey the city. Eventually we went back to Jucy, grabbed the car, and started driving. We loved everything so much more the second we got outside the city. The beaches are to die for, and the water – filled with beautiful islands. The grass here is SO green. It reminds me of pictures I’ve seen of Ireland. JP kept saying how much it looked like Hawaii to him, though. We drove for a long while along the beach and through little towns and neighborhoods. We definitely found where the wealthy live near Auckland. The houses were ridiculous. And pulling into a supermarket, we encountered many of the “trim,” fashionable housewives from the area.
This supermarket was pretty awesome though, because the grocery baskets had long handles and wheels! I was very impressed. We bought a lot of kiwifruit and enjoyed discovering how yummy the peels actually are. J
We went out later in the evening to get a view of Auckland’s nightlife – and while we had fun, we confirmed once again, that we felt ready to leave the city.