Friends! I made it. Halfway across the world to New Zealand. And it’s amazing!
I flew from LA to Auckland yesterday (was that just yesterday? This time travel is confusing me) and hopped on another short plane ride to Wellington. In Auckland, there’s a quick 10-minute stroll from international to domestic that’s worth the walk. The sun was peeking over the air traffic control towers early that morning and the air was so crisp and fresh. It was my first exposure to the new flora of New Zealand and I saw some cute, silly birds I’d never seen before. I got really excited! Customs in Auckland is super simple too. They never asked for my visa documents and stamped me in right away. I declared a few items and as soon as I was done, I asked the customs officer if I needed to show some other paperwork and she politely announced, “Nope! You’ve arrived.” Sure did.
As I flew in to Wellington, I noticed all the cute clusters of homes carved into the hillsides. And the water was so clear. At least from my end of the plane. Another observation is that the signs are so obvious here. Instead of exit, the signs read “Way Out” at the airport. That’s new.
Isaac’s dad greeted me and we headed off to their home, where I will be staying for awhile. He pointed out some cool spots as we drove along the coast, past a few small towns and shops. I was mostly paying attention to the fact that we were driving on the left and that I would soon need to get behind the wheel. We stopped for coffee and breakfast and before I knew it, I met someone who recognized us. Small town feel, just like home. I ate my food as quick as possible since seagulls were beginning to congregate and get bold on my dish.
After I unpacked my bags at home, I had a shower. The taps on the shower were switched. And the light switches were opposite too. I am truly in a new world. I then sat outside to write a few emails and journal. It was nice and toasty in the sun. We walked to the library that afternoon and I got a library card right away. It was so easy. And the librarian gave me a tour of the small community library with such pride. I checked out a few books about local gardening, hiking, and an atlas and we went to the grocery. I didn’t recognize many brands at the store. It’s fun to be in a new place and notice these little things.
At dinner, we watched the local news and the weather. I was blown away by the animations for the weather forecast. Perhaps I haven’t seen tv in awhile but kiwis love their weather and take it very seriously since it can change at the drop of a hat. I’ve also heard the word “arctic” a few times and it has me concerned a bit. It’s still winter here but the chill is something I can get used to knowing it won’t last much longer. And I read my first earthquake preparedness handout. Just in case.
This morning, I made toast and thought it would be adventurous of me to taste the marmite again. I bit a corner of the toast I put it on and moved on to the peanut butter instead. I’ll probably go on a hike today before the southerly storm hits and take lots of pictures. So stay tuned for those.
But I’m here, in the middle of middle earth (as the sign at the Wellington airport says) and I couldn’t be more excited to explore.