Great! You're back!
I'm hoping to get you up to speed with a bit of reminiscence of our trip thus far. We are coming up on 6 weeks here in NZ--it's pretty incredible what we've accomplished in such a short time. I apologize for the word-heavy post. Neither of us are particularly good at remembering to take pictures (hence the fact that this is our first non-disposable camera). I promise there will be more pictures coming. Here we go...
Once we announced our departure, I can't tell you how many times we heard how friendly and laid-back Kiwis were. But you never really know what someone means by that. We, however, found out almost immediately when we boarded our 14-hour Air New Zealand fight from our very entertaining safety demonstration video... No joke, this is how we were shown how to put on our seat belt. Check out some of the other videos from Air NZ; they obviously have a good sense of humour.
After what was possibly one of the longest flights you can actually go on, we landed in Auckland at about 5:45AM local time on February 3rd. We got through customs/immigration without any issues, other than Kevin having to get his hunting boots cleaned by their biohazard team (saved us from having to do it!). The only plans that we really had set up after our arrival was one night at a hostel in Ponsonby. We definitely didn't take into consideration that a) we can't check in until 10AM and b) 73kg worth of luggage is ridiculous to lug around with you. So at 7AM we were lucky enough to find a dairy (convenience store) that had an Internet cafe hidden in the back. Kevin fought with his iPhone to try and unlock it for 3 hours, luckily with some hard-earned success.
We were able to check into the hostel, went out for some lunch, and napped off our jetlag pretty quickly. Little did we know that it was a long weekend (Waitangi Day) and the hostel was fully booked for the next few days. So once again, we had to go on a safari for wifi (pretty much the story of our entire trip) to find another hostel with space for the rest of the weekend.
Once again, off we went with luggage the size and weight of multiple children on the bus to another hostel right smack-dab in the middle of Auckland's CBD. We spent Sunday in Devonport, where we climbed a dormant volcano and battled with some sea gulls over our lunch of delicious fish and chips. Kevin had taken a beautiful panoramic shot from the top of Mountain Victoria, but unfortunately I can't seem to figure out how to upload such large photos on here (if anyone knows, please feel free to help me out!!). So instead, here's ONE of the shots that was incorporated into the panoramic photo.
We were able to connect with Gabe, a friend of a friend (thanks Melanie!), who was kind enough to offer up a room in his house in Milford for the rest of the week while we figured out what the heck we were going to do. Gabe, Hannah, and Summer were so hospitable; it was really nice to settle somewhere for more than a single night. Plus, he had a truck, so we didn't have to lug our stuff around quite so ridiculously. After a cloudy/rainy weekend, we spent our first day at the beautiful Milford Beach:
Unfortunately, the both of us got burnt like lobsters, so much so that Kevin's ankles both turned a bright shade a purple that lasted for a good week and a half. As such, we had to spend the next couple of days indoors, which worked out as Kevin needed to start looking for jobs. A few phone calls and he had an interview set up for the following Monday in Wellington.
And that's where we began to plan our caravan adventure across the country...