Auckland has been a bit of a surprise.
The not so great surprises:
We got off the plane from Sydney to Auckland and went through customs as we usually do. The officer asked us about the contents of our luggage as New Zealand has such a fragile ecosphere and there is a very strict list of what you can and can’t bring into the country. The officer said that they would like to take our hiking shoes and clean them but the rest should be good – all we had to do was slide our bags along through the x-Ray scanners and they would meet us on the otherside with our new clean shoes. While we were waiting for our bags to come out the other side, the officer picked up Rachel’s daypack and asked who it belonged to. Rachel claimed it and the officer explained to us that there was an apple in her bag that was not permitted entry to the country. Thinking Rach could just eat it and we could move along, my train of thought was interrupted by the officer continuing his discussion with Rachel that the Apple had been disposed of and he was sorry but he was going to have to give her a $400 fine. To anyone that is a lot of money but to a backpacker with access to limited funds this was a LOT of money. Rachel handled it really well – all I could say was “it’s going to be fine we will figure it out”.
Our hostel was pretty gross. Someone puked in the shower, one of the guys in our 8 person mixed room had terr-i-ble BO, our keys almost never actually worked, and the people outside our room partied all night and often woke us up at 2am to the sound of them trying to break up a block of ice for their drinks.
After this we found out that our first WWOOFing family had pushed our start date from November 29th – December 2nd which was not a problem but just unanticipated.. We tried to find another family to WWOOF with in the area on short notice but we were unsuccessful and ended up just renting an Airbnb. (More dollar bills that grew wings)
Rachel’s cards do not like New Zealand bank machines – therefore Rach had been putting pretty much everything on my credit card (not a problem for me at all, I’m going to have great credit) but not knowing when or if you have access to your bank account can be incredible stressful.
The great surprises:
Rachel’s birthday gift from her wonderful father was a $400 apple! Thanks Mark ❤️
Our Airbnb was exactly what we needed – a chill place with a really wonderful family, a comfortable bed, complimentary coffee, and a beautiful bathroom. Our hosts have a lovely baby girl (22 months old) who is incredibly entertaining and practically puts herself to bed at night. We have had dinner with them both nights we have been here and they even offered us a glass of wine and some yummy ice cream desserts. We have had great conversations and exchanged lots of stories – after hearing about our trips they even showed us some pictures they took of places we are going to later in our trip which totally fuelled our internal adventure fires.
While our hostel was gross we met two lovely girls from Sweden who we were able to share dinner and a few drinks with. Yay for new friends!
The credit card problem was resolved for the most part by getting a New Zealand cell number and phone plan with a few international minutes so Rache could sort out the problem with her bank. We had some left over minutes so Rachel was able to call her grandma and we also now able to connect with our families over the holidays even if we don’t have access to wifi (we still aren’t sure where we are going to be yet).
Getting a cell phone allowed us to get a really cool bus pass called the Kiwi Experience. This is a cool way to travel and was recommended to us by the Happy Travels salesman who did basically the same thing Rachel and I are doing a year ago. It’s a hop on-hop off type of service where we call the agency and tell them where we are and where we are going. They follow a loop around both the North and South Island and pick you up at the closest place to you that aligns with their route. While this cost us a little more than we anticipated, this is a great way to meet people who are travelling and backpacking like us and also to help us plan our route around the islands in terms of where we want to look for farms to WWOOF on. It feels now like we have endless opportunities because we now have an easy and reliable way to get from place to place.
Getting to stay in Auckland a little longer has actually been kind of nice. We had time to slowly explore the city rather than cramming it all in. Yesterday I hiked to Mount Eden which was really cool and probably my favourite sight of the city, although the sky tower is also pretty cool. Also during our time in the city hostel we happened across their Christmas Parade. Everything Christmas gives me warm fuzzies but especially here, because it is so warm sometimes I forget that the holidays are right around the corner!
Today is our last day in Auckland and after having explored pretty much everything that was on our list, we decided to take a full rest day of naps, tasty food, and a marathon of Gilmore Girls. (My parents might not be impressed by our tasty food choices – nothing green – but I know Lorelai and Rory would be proud ;))
Tomorrow we are off to an early start of 5:30/6ish as we have to catch a bus in the city at 7am which will be taking us to the ferry port to get to Russell. We will be picked up from port by our first WWOOFing family. We have been informed we will be working on their garden and helping with some domestic tasks indoors until December 10th! Can’t wait!
Sending lots of love from kiwi-land❤️ xxx