New Zealand Day 1: We Arrive

The Flight In

Our flight from Seattle was in two parts. First, we flew Alaska down to LAX, followed four hours later by a Qantas flight to Auckland. The itinerary said we would be departing LAX at 8:40 pm on January 31st, and arriving Auckland at 6:05 am on February 2nd. The flight time was listed as 12 hours and 35 minutes. Going across the Dateline is pretty weird -- February 1st never existed for us. (Fortunately, we'd get to experience the 14th twice on the way back, so balance was maintained.)

We arrived bright and early in Auckland, a little bit earlier than the planned time. We had been fairly worried about bringing any contraband food into New Zealand, since they're very strict about preventing any further "alienization" of the environment. We needn't have worried, but we made sure to dump any remaining snacks in the "quarantine" bins scattered about the airport before hitting Customs.

Waiting for our bags to arrive on the conveyor belt, we encountered the promised Cutest Little Beagle. It was the happiest looking dog, sniffing among all the bags, looking for any food. There were large signs around sternly warning travellers that undeclared food in any form resulted in an immediate and unconditional $200 fine, with fines all the way up to $10,000. The New Zealand dollar was worth about 67 US cents as we stepped off the plane.

Customs went quickly, although they X-rayed all our bags again, to make doubly sure we weren't smuggling anything in. As we passed out into the reception area, we saw my parents standing there, waiting for us. We were warmly received, and after a few moment's greeting and discussion, we were headed outside to find the car.

Welcome to New Zealand; It's Raining!

As Sibyl and I humped our bags out of the airport, it became apparent that they weren't kidding when my parents had said that it was raining. Rain was coming down at a feverish pace, the kind of big heavy drops falling really fast that are more like a tropical downpour than the anemic-but-constant drizzle Seattle usually gets. We piled the bags into the trunk, and ourselves into the cabin of the Toyota. I was again greeted by the initially-weird concept of the driver sitting on the right-hand side of the car.

We drove off through the pouring rain, and into traffic at least as bad as Seattle's rush-hour traffic. Thanks to the fiendish manipulations of the International Dateline, we had departed on Saturday, skipped Sunday altogether, and landed in Auckland at rush-hour:30 on Monday morning.

What, You Expected Maybe Sunshine?

[Rain out the window] We arrived at the boat, our new home, about an hour later. At this point, my recollection becomes hazy, and I suspect we spent some quality time reading and napping. I had had a hard time sleeping on the plane, although I'd gotten perhaps 5-6 hours of sleep. New Zealand is GMT+12, or GMT+13 in the summer, which makes it 21 hours ahead of Seattle. That sounds like a hell of a lot, except that it's practically very little -- it's 3 hours, and "a day." Fortunately, your body doesn't care about "a day," and only pays attention to the three hours. So going to New Zealand is like going from the East Coast of the US to the West Coast, from a jet lag standpoint.

It was still raining once we got onto the boat, and neither Sibyl or I were feeling particularly inspired to get out and explore a whole bunch. It was a lazy day, mostly spent recovering from the surprisingly draining process of travelling via airline. It's amazing how tiring it is to sit in one position for many hours at a stretch.

Dinner on the Viaduct?

Eventually, the rain let up, and we decided to head out for dinner. My parents' boat was moored at the Westhaven Marina, which is quite close to downtown Auckland, and a relatively short walk from an area called the Viaduct. The Viaduct appears to be home to more trendy restaurants per square meter than anywhere except possibly Paris.

We ended up selecting a pleasant-looking Italian restaurant, and seated ourselves outside, underneath a sprawling umbrella system. The food was good, and not terribly overpriced, once I remembered to convert from NZ dollars to US dollars.

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

At the end of an incredibly full day (it honestly felt like two), we hit the sack around 10 pm, utterly exhausted. I remember feeling pretty good about staying up as late as 10, but that's the last thing I can recall from that day.

Return to the Introduction - Go on to Day 2

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