Ok, been in NZ for over a week now. Starting to feel a bit like a local - I can use words like "kumara" (sweet potato) and I can even pronounce Aotearoa! For reference,it's "Ow-teer-owa". Go me.
... oh yes, and we met the Prime Minister Helen Clarke at a flea market in the south of the city:
Let's start at the beginning. 32 hours is a long plan journey! First part (to Frankfurt) was easy, as was getting through Frankfurt airport to wherever I needed to be. I did enjoy the "smoker's boxes" - glass boxes in the corridors in which the smokers stood looking a little like vertical goldfish, and where people walking past could feel very smug about not smoking. Good stuff.
The next flight was to Hong Kong, which was long. Luckily my medication knocked me out, much to the chagrin of the man sitting next to me who wanted to talk. Sorry.There were also noodles for breakfast, which was odd but appreciated. Yum, noodles.
Then I was in Hong Kong! I decided to venture into the city itself on a sleek fast train. It sounds silly, but I didn't realise HK was so mountainous! Very pretty, with all the sea and mountains and big tall buildings.I wandered for a while, went to the pier and saw boats (surprisingly enough), took photos, got lunch (which was a strange experience in itself, but successfully negotiated without too many faux pas, I think), discovered I'd lost my train ticket, bought another and headed back to the airport.
Then there was another 10 hour flight down to New Zealand. Slept some more, which was good, ate more noodles for breakfast (what is it with noodles for breakfast on long flights?) and watched as we flew into the dawn with the long beaches of North Island below us. Such a beautiful introduction to the country. Seems I was lucky, as R had landed a few hours earlier in the dark and rain. Heh.
I was met by R and S (his cousin), who took us back to her house for an early lunch. After that we headed out to the Waitakere mountains for a bit of a wander and some pictures (which are on facebook, but nowhere else at the moment). There was a giant picture frame framing the view, and a totem (for which I don't know the Maori word) featuring various ancestors with huge penises.Such is the way of things.
So far our time here has been eating, sleeping and doing touristy things in almost equal measure. Since we're so close to the sea wherever we are, green mussels are incredibly cheap (NZ$2.25/kg!) which means we're eating them fairly often. Yay seafood!
The Auckland Museum was fairly fun. We went to see a "cultural performance" which was a Maori troupe performing songs and dances with poi and sticks, culminating in (of course) the war haka. Quite a sight, even when done purely for tourist purposes. One of the dancers reckoned himself to be a bit of an NZ Idol star, which was quite amusing. Hard to be fierce when you're trying to pose.
We've also been over to Devonport, which is a village just north of Auckland reached by ferry. All very picturesque and "English", down to the prevalence of fish and chips (or "fush and chups") and little tea houses. Really is a bit like stepping back in time.
Other than that, we've been organising ourselves (ha!) - getting bank accounts sorted, SIM cards for phones, car hunting etc. Turns out that I can't transfer money from my UK account to my NZ one without calling them, which is a pain, but I'll need to do that at some point soon. What's the point of internet banking when you can't use it to do the things you want to? Grr.
But, all in all, we're fairly settled in. S has been taking us to various places (mostly foody places), we've found good places for beer, like here:
Oh yeah, and we met the Prime Minister Helen Clarke at a market:
So we're doing quite well.
Hopefully we'll set off for the Northland next week at some point, when we have a car.
Will write more when there's more to tell, and internet to tell it from.I do have a phone number down here now; email me if you want it.