Kia Ora, New Zealand!

I’ll warn you right now, today was not an exciting day. It was a travel day that took up the whole day because we like to save money… And we were moving on to a new country.

We woke at 8 am to get our things together and pack our bags. Between the Cool Bag, ice packs, peanut butter (Yes, it needed to come. Lynn does not like wasting food.), and beach towels our bags are getting more and more difficult to pack. We agreed that after NZ we’d be doing some downsizing.

By 9:30 am we had had some breakfast and were ready to depart. We walked ourselves back to King’s Cross station where we would ride the subway line as close as we could to the international terminal without forking over the ridiculous airport fee. It took a bit longer than expected due to “some slowdowns in the central corridor” but we made it to our stop with enough time to spare. We now had 2 hours until our flight and 30 minutes to walk though a rundown part of town, across a busy road, through a park, and under the airport overpass. We did it in 26 minutes. Woot!

We checked in without too much hassle then made our way through security before routing ourselves to the Tourist Refund Scheme office where we hoped to get $50 back from our GoPro purchase. Instead we were greeted by a large line of confused Asian tourists hoping to do the same as us but handling far more receipts, most of which seemed to not be valid for reimbursement. We stood in line for 10 minutes before calling it quits in fear of missing our boarding time. Luckily this was the same time that one of the employees turned up with a pile of forms and envelopes. Instead of waiting in line we could fill out this form and get reimbursed at a later date. So we did. We’ll see if we actually see our money returned.

We reached our gate with ample time to spare so we got a quick lunch and looked for ways to spend out remaining $1.45 AUD. No luck. Instead we spent time scouting out the bookstore for new novels we could scan into our Goodreads collections (it really is a good app, we highly recommend it). Lynn was excited to learn that 2 of the books she had recently completed were on the best sellers: Wild and I am Malala. Both were very good and she also recommends them. It was here we learned that our China Airlines flight was delayed. More perusing it is!

We loaded on to the plane a half-hour later and had an enjoyable flight. Doug spent it watching Bridge of Spies while Lynn watched something slightly more intellectual, Minions, and played Tetris. By the way, she is now on the leader board in #8 for most points in 2 minutes in seat 21K on that particular plane.

We arrived in Auckland, New Zealand at 6 p.m. (a timezone two hours before Sydney) and worked our way through passport control. The two of us tend to separate and go to two officers thinking that it saves time. This time we compared what each other was asked. Lynn was asked if she would be renting a car during her stay, followed up by, “Do you know what side of the road we drive on?” Doug got the typical, “How long will you be in New Zealand for?” We then were ushered through the biological screening area where anofficer inspected our hiking boots and ensured that we didn’t buy any wood items from “Indo” (a.k.a. Indonesia). He did let us keep our cashews, dried fruit, and peanut butter!

A Maori gate greeting us upon arrival
Thank you for the kind welcome.
Our home for the next month.

Without too much hassle, we got money from an ATM, changed in into smaller bills with the help of a money changer, and proceeded to our bus. We planned to take the 380 bus from the airport to a local train, then take that to our overnight Airbnb because, similar to Sydney, this is the cheaper and, truthfully, less convenient option. We spent $9 NZD per person on this method. The next least expensive option was $20 NZD per person.

The bus showed up and we were able to get to the train with no problems whatsoever. The bus driver even gave us change for our cash which was a delightful surprise we were not expecting! The train, however, didn’t fare as well. In doing her research, Lynn had not learned that there are 3 routes that leave from the same platform at this train station and we just so happened to get on an incorrect line. This led to some backtracking, waiting in the cold wind on the train platforms, meeting a very nice local ticket checker, and ultimately landing in the Ellerslie neighborhood of Auckland 1.5 hours after we had started.

Auckland, could you be a bit warmer? Please?
Auckland, could you be a bit warmer? Please?

By now it was 9 p.m. Thankfully our Airbnb host, Sylvie, lived a short 5 minute walk from the train. After a brief introduction to the home, she pointed us to a very nice Mexican place in the center of town for us to grab some dinner. We shared some quesadillas, fried chicken, guacamole, and margaritas putting our extra $22 NZD to good use before calling it a night.

Daily Walking Mileage: 6

Fun Facts:

  • You can only be reimbursed for the taxes you have paid in Australia if the total of a single purchase exceeds $300 AUD, you have the goods in hand, and you have the original receipt. There are a few other stipulations, but you can see why there might be confusion from the masses.
  • We don’t have any New Zealand facts yet. All we have seen is the Auckland Airport, a few of the train lines (whoopsies), and the neighborhood of Ellerslie, which, by the way, stays open way longer than any town in Australia.

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