16 – 18 March 2010, New Zealand
After spending nearly 40 hours in transit, we arrived in Auckland, New Zealand! Both of us had somehow managed to sleep at least 8 hours on the plane ride over, so we were considerably more alert than anticipated. It helped that we were greeted by sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 60s. We didn’t have anything specific planned for our first day and a half in the Southern hemisphere since we figured we should take a bit of time to acclimate to the 17 hour time difference. We spent the first night cooking dinner in the hostel kitchen and trying to adjust to communal living. Although we had booked a private room, and plan to for most of our travels, we were still sharing a bathroom and kitchen with other travelers, each of whom has varying definitions of what constitutes clean.
Our first full day in the city began with a hike to the top of Mt. Eden, Auckland’s highest point and a great place to take in the views of the city’s two harbors. We then had a picnic lunch at Auckland Domain, the city’s largest park. After coming to the realization that we were leaving Auckland the next morning and had no idea which direction we were headed, we spent the next few hours in a coffee shop, putting together a rough itinerary for our three weeks in New Zealand.
Itinerary in hand, we picked up our trusty rental car, a four door Nissan with 135,000 kilometers on the odometer. Our timing was unfortunate in that we pulled out of the rental car parking lot into the midst of rush hour traffic. While I grew used to driving on the left side of the road while living in Japan, it has been a few years. Fortunately, it only took me a few minutes to get used to the left hand driving and we made it back to the hostel with no problems.