One of my first walks in NZ - near Warkworth
After two days of fairly civilised travel and only a few hours of motion sickness, I touched down in Auckland airport on the sunny afternoon of Thursday 4th February.
I had tried to freshen up on our fuel stop in Melbourne, but it was no good. I was terrified that the strict environmental control at the airport would either (a) be furious with me, or (b) make me throw out my rucksack and all my clothes. This was because I - in my rush to pack - had grabbed my rucksack without realising it had been used for carting firewood up the stairs and still had quite a lot of woodchips in the bottom. In fact, I had only evicted a stray log when I got to Dubai...
Luckily environmental control didn't care, except for taking a very long slow look at my tent. Between flight delays, massive passport control queues and the tent thing, Ross had to wait three hours at the airport for me. It was good to see him, looking leaner, happier and more tanned than when he'd left.
A kingfisher - one of many birds that I've seen close-up since arriving
My first impressions were positive. New Zealand looked well-organised and well-tended. Bright sunlight shone down on green hills and blue water. We headed north to Ross' parents' house on the coast near Warkworth. Their lovely house is nestled in a steep valley of native bush (i.e. NZ-origin trees) close to a small yachting harbour. Occasional villas could be spied peeking out of the forest. I later understood that these are "lifestyle plots" - where people retire or buy holiday homes with lots of space for making their own olive oil or whatever. And very lovely it is too.
One of the good things about being jetlagged (possibly the only good thing) is that you get to see the sunrise
After a welcoming glass of champagne and an early dinner at a nice Thai restaurant, I got to bed at 9ish. Not bad for 12 hours of time difference.