If you ever go to New Zealand, I highly recommend taking Air New Zealand over. They made my 22-hour plane ride as tolerable as possible. I spent my waking hours watching Lord of the Rings films and drinking complementary New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. When it was time to go to bed, I took Advil PM and basically slept for the rest of my journey to New Zealand.
When I arrived, I about had a heart attack going through customs. They have very strict biosecurity laws and make you declare everything from food to camping equipment. The customs officer that I talked to was a woman and seemed to be very nice. She let me through without any hassle. I think I got very lucky because later in the hostel I heard horror stories of people having to clean their hiking boots off and dump all of their spices.
My biggest stress of the journey was after getting through customs, when I had to call the discount taxi company recommended to me with a pay phone and get cash out of the ATM to pay for the taxi. Of course my debit card was not working and then I couldn’t get the pay phones to work (this seems to be a reoccurring issue). Luckily, the normal taxi company took credit cards, but they cost an arm and a leg.
I arrived to my Airbnb in Auckland at 9am, took a shower, and was somehow ready to have an adventure. I think the excitement of just being in New Zealand allowed me to continue on after such a strenuous journey. I made my way to the beach at Point Chevalier to relax and lay in the sun. On the way to the beach I stopped at a café to have lunch. A woman sat next to me and started talking to me about everything under the sun. She said that she saw me all alone in the café and wanted to give me some company. I was delighted to be talking to somebody, but also shocked by the friendliness of the woman. People weren’t kidding when they said that everybody is kind in New Zealand. The beach was lovely, but the sun is extremely intense here because of the lack of ozone layer. I could only handle being in the sun for moments at a time. That evening I practiced some yoga and passed out at 7pm right after I made myself something to eat.
My second day in Point Chevalier I walked around in a park, sat and read my book, and enjoyed watching the many different birds.
That evening I was invited to dinner by Banu, a friend of a friend of a friend, and her friends. It was highly enjoyable and they made me feel so welcomed. Their friend group is made up of international friends from all over the world. It reminded me of my friend group that I had in college.
The next morning I was scheduled to meet Banu to look at her car and hopefully buy it. The little car was in perfect condition and we made our way to the bank to get cash. Banu was such a help with driving on the left side of the road, which was terrifying. It actually ended up being pretty simple once I got the hang of it though. I just have to continue to be conscious about where I am going at all times.
Of course my bank didn’t work when I went to take out money. Apparently your card gets blocked when you try to pull out more than $500 USD, which my bank failed to mention to me. You have to go to an ATM everyday for a certain amount of days to get large amounts of money. Banu was super kind and she lent me the car while we are working out money.
I arrived to my hostel in Mount Eden after dealing with car things. The hostel was clean and friendly. I wasn’t sure how I would like the hostel experience, but it so much fun! It is a mature way of college dorm living. Everybody is in their twenties and come from places all over the world. It’s great hearing so many different languages spoken in one place.
I took a hike up to Mount Eden, which was only a five minute walk from my hostel. The hike took you up on top of a hill that gave you a panoramic view of Auckland. The steady breeze on the mountain felt amazing. I met a woman from Switzerland named Fabienne on the top of the hill while I was reading a book. We hit it off instantly and talked for hours about traveling and various other life things before parting our ways. Those quick intense moments when somebody comes in and out of our life, leaving an impression on you forever, is what makes traveling so special.
The next day was raining so I went to the Auckland museum with a French woman from the room in my hostel. The museum had Maori history in it. I highly recommend going to this museum if you ever visit Auckland!