Auckland: A Rest Stop
After an amazing week of sunshine and explorations in Sydney, we flew over to New Zealand. Our three week road trip would begin in Auckland and end in Christchurch. We were very excited to get on the road! We had imagined that New Zealand was “so close to Australia”, but the reality is that it is still an international flight! With an early wake up, airport pick-up, waiting in immigration, and then the flight, we were actually quite tired when we arrived in Auckland.
Our day had began before 5am!
Initially, we had hoped to head downtown to do some exploring… but knowing that we wanted to see Waiheke Island the next day, we realized that getting some rest would be a smarter option.
Above, There were lots of very interesting cultural displays at the Auckland airport. Definitely a wonderful welcoming!
Just like Australia, there were numerous food and item warnings at customs. Many Chinese people were getting in trouble for bringing prohibited goods – like fresh fruit – into the country. There are tons LARGE signs, all translated to many languages, so it is hard not to giggle at the reactions of some people when they get reprimanded. Goodness!
Our car rental company sent a van to pick us up from the international arrivals terminal, and then we went to sort out the car paperwork. After a VERY spacious car experience in Europe, we were a little shocked when our car was brought around. This was actually the first moment where we began to see how “behind” New Zealand was. We had heard this many times before – from travelers, on Youtube videos, and in numerous articles. And don’t get me wrong, this was actually one of the things that I loved MOST about New Zealand, but still it was interesting to see. In many ways, this is why New Zealand reminded me of South Africa. (And therefore made me feel like I was “back at home”)
No Room in the Car!
Our car had barely any room. We had to pile bags in the backseat – not so great for day-stops where all your belongings have to remain in the car. Then again, we were told “this is New Zealand, no one will break into your car”.
It really was amusing how much we learned about New Zealand – and the locals – before we even left the car rental company at the airport!
As you’ll remember from our Europe Instagram pics, we love to take pictures of the odometer! We couldn’t possibly remember what we started on if we didn’t! Well, in Europe we had a brand new car, so we started on 1km, so that was an easy one!!! With pictures we are able to easily reference back to later. For this journey, we started with our car on 31,267km. In total we drove over 4,500km! We will tell you all about those kilometers in the next few months. I love how each kilometer represents a different moment or memory!
When we had prebooked out car, hotels and a few AirBnbs, we very quickly learned that New Zealand was REALLY expensive. For our daily budget, there weren’t too many options for sleeping! Funny thing is, we traveled Europe for two months last year, and before we even touched down in New Zealand, we already knew that this might turn out to be one of our most expensive trips (ever!). Hotel options for Auckland we bleak, so we settled on something very modest
We got to our, rather dingy, hotel and settled in for the night. We unpacked the car, and rearranged our bags. One of the biggest problems with these trips is that packing for a flights and packing for the car, are vastly different. While Justin ventured out to find some food, I repacked the clothes, toiletries and car supplies. We still have many of our European car accessories, so it all worked out quite perfectly in that regard.
While I switched through the 4 channels available on the hotel tv, Justin drive around for ages, trying to find a supermarket that was open. And this, ladies and gentlemen, was an other huge eye-opener for us. Just as the choices of channels were severely limited, so were the grocery stores left open after 6pm. Justin, being American, was shocked… almost appalled! I always have to giggle and remind him that, in this regard, being born in America might be a curse rather than a blessing. Whereas he was born into convenience, and therefore expects it everywhere, I was pretty much brought up in a place where limitations and inconveniences are a way of life. It is a very interesting mix when we travel. Although I have adapted to his first-world ways, it really does help that I have lived most of my life in South Africa!
Justin returned to the hotel with a box of apple ciders, a roasted chicken, and a few veggies and snacks. He had a shocked look on his face. Apparently he had to go to three grocery stores, and only managed to sneak into the the last one just as they were about to close. Yes folks – on our very first day, in the most populous urban area in the country, we almost went to bed hungry!
It was clear that this was going to be an interesting journey!
It is difficult to describe just how many ways New Zealand surprised us. We have traveled to quite a few countries now, and we have lived in China for 5 years. You would assume that a country like New Zealand wouldn’t have much that could surprise us, but BOY OH BOY! All that, and more, in the upcoming New Zealand posts.
** At the end of each month I send all travel posts back to their actual date of travel. If you are looking for more New Zealand posts, check the drop down menu on the right, between mid-January and mid-February 2017**