1. New Zealand, who dis?

1 Feb

My epic trip to New Zealand wrapped up in the beginning of March but, like usual, it has taken me awhile to process this spectacular adventure.  I’ve compiled my thoughts, writings, memories, and photos into twelve bite-sized blog posts that I will be publishing over the next month, or so.  Spoilers: NEW ZEALAND IS WONDERFUL!!

I had my year-long working visa (which I recommend); I had my great guidebook with an equally great title NZ Frenzy (which I also recommend); I had my best friend explain the necessity of pre-packing by way of mitosis (see below); I had my road-dog, Rachel, who was meeting me a few days after I landed (yippie for friendship!).   I was all set for a thorough exploration of New Zealand where I planned on working (ok, maybe not, but I would apply to jobs) and doing what I do best — finding adventure the moment my feet hit the ground.

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When your best friend is also a science teacher.

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Friends & Family: “What are you gonna do in NZ?”
Me: “I’m just gonna wing it.

I had flown out of LA and, due to some bad weather, the flight took longer than anticipated. But I kept myself busy by watching Shape of Water and other movies during the flight. Overall, it was 12 hours (the flight, not the movie). And on the plane ride over, New Zealand Air flight attendants were handing out free wine, and though I said ‘no thanks’ because I was trying to avoid jet lag, I thought it was a pretty good indicator as to the type of fun that would be in store for me when I landed. 

And I was right– not that they were handing out free wine everywhere (in fact, the flight was the only place I’d find cheap food & drink in all of New Zealand), but just the process of getting through customs and out of the airport was easy, breezy, and casual. And the smooth sailing kept on from there.  I took a bus from the airport to downtown Auckland; I put my bag down at my hostel; bought myself a SIM card so that I could call around for jobs ASAP, and took a trial barre class (aka a free barre class) because I’m a firm believer in the idea that exercise helps reduce the effects of switching time zones. But also because I’m a firm believer in free. 

After the class, I was hungry (obviously), so I found myself at the cheapest restaurant I could find — a sushi joint serving warm sushi (and not because it was trendy).  But, because it had been sitting out all day. Now, for those of you that know me, you’ll recognize that I like to live life on the edge (…of potential food poisoning).  I find that it makes for a strong constitution. And I was fine. Better than fine! I had saved some money.

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Anyone know where Old Zealand is?

My first night in NZ, I walked around the waterfront and got followed by a live, large band — sounds terrifying but, ever since Mexico, it was sort of like a dream come true. The next morning, I did hot yoga for 90 minutes, which, at any hour of the day feels like a really long time, but at 8AM feels impossible.  Your protagonist stuck it out though, and rewarded herself by taking a shower with all of my clothes on (laundry and a shower all rolled into one, nice). My hostel was only a few doors down and I went there to change.  After getting nice and dry, I went for a walk, found myself some $14 avocado toast — because NZ is hella expensive —  and who can possibly remember what else.  This went on for several days before, on February 1st, Rachel arrived. YAY!!!!! RACHEL WAS ALMOST HERE!!!!!!!! My New Zealand trip was about to change for the better 🙂

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 ❤ She made it!!

We weren’t allowed to check into our new room yet, so we used the grossest hostel bathroom we were allowed to access.   It was time to get ready — Rachel is such a champ — and we became veterans as we navigated the sludge and trenches of the disgusting conditions. Rachel’s comb, however, did get traumatized from falling into some unknown liquid behind the toilet while we were fixing ourselves up. But both of them are troopers, and they have since worked through the trauma. 

Once we won the Battle of the Bathroom — we looked impressivly good, by the way — we found out that the cheapest drinks were from the corner store.  So we went to grab some stuff, ate kebabs for lunch, and got hired. 

When Rachel and I first emerged from the corner store, we looked for the perfect bench to hang out on. Our exploration was Goldie Locks style: “This bench is too small,” “This bench is too big”,  and “This bench has no back.”

We finally found a bench that was just right.  Rachel became the bench bartender, and we had a flavored water drink with “zero” sugar. It was horrible, but we kept the bottle. In fact, we kept the bottle for the entire trip because things were so expensive.  Bonus reason: It was good for the environment. We had a red bottle, a blue bottle, and a green bottle. 

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A collector’s item.

When Rachel and I were finally able to check into our hostel (which was $28/ night for a 10-person room…. Good lord) we decided to leave again and continue our day by walking uphill to The White House, which was set up like Congress.

Downstairs, there was a spa with cheap champagne and upstairs there was a place where you could pay to play pool.  We skipped out on all of that. We learned that the employees weren’t allowed to have their phones with them – at all – during their 9-hour shifts, and the manager we had wanted to talk to showed up 45 minutes late. During that waiting period, though, Rachel and I came up with a spoof idea called Buckingham Palace, and the name of the bar would just be “Oooo.”

Once we left, we headed a few blocks up the road to continue exploring, and we met a trans-woman named Jessica who liked to shop. After such a whirlwind of people and places, Rachel and I decided we’d had all we could handle for the night, as far as this genre went, and we decided to go out on the town…in the opposite direction, towards the water. We watched as couples shared Lime scooters and discussed how dangerous it would be if she and I ever attempted to do that. 

But I was sort of tempted.  Fast forward to the next day, instead of trying to ride it as a couple, I rode one by myself. But to add to the challenge, a kid offered to race me.  He won, unsurprisingly. And I didn’t ride a scooter again for the rest of the trip.

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Participating in a race that I did’t mean to enter.

But anyway, back to the night time activities.  Sans children, of course.  On our walk towards the water, Rachel and I ended up in the bumpin’ (expensive) part of town. As we continued to walk, we asked for a comparison of drink prices, and when it got to be $10.50 for a drink (far too rich for our taste), we turned around but not before stopping to talk to some gay guys, an uninterested American basketball player, to pet some buffalo hide with a Brazilian blowout (a chair), and mingling with a friendly bouncer.

Next, we checked out a bar, covered in astroturf, that was hosting a private party. But the theme in New Zealand was American determination (you’ll see it again), so we didn’t let the private party hinder us from joining in the fun and enjoying the rose petals on the floor or the bowls of chocolate, lollipops, and condoms. We didn’t stay for very long…just long enough to enjoy the rush of crashing a party.  When we’d had enough, Rachel jail-broke us out through a gate, yet another rush. Not supposed to get in, and not supposed to leave.

The party-crashing made us hungry, as it tends to do, and so we headed to get some Turkish food because it was the cheapest, hot thing we could find in NZ.  While we ate, we watched two teenagers makeout — but, like, not in a creepy way. Just think of it as dinner and a show. I certainly did. Anyway, when we were done with our food, we looked for mischief, couldn’t find it, and went back to our hostel to look at the inside of our eyelids instead. 

Rachel crashed hard since she’d just arrived and had a very full day (she’s incredible), but I, on the other hand, had a difficult time sleeping because the room was like a sauna and the door (which we were sleeping right next to) opened and closed all night long.

 

The next morning, because I hadn’t spent enough time in the stagnant heat that was our hostel room, I decided to sweat even more in a hot yoga session.  Sometimes burning energy gives you more.  When I got back, Rachel and I went to a farmers’ market and bought some delicious kiwis. Strangely, most of them were imported from Italy, so we had to read the labels carefully.  The ones grown in New Zealand were golden bodied on the inside (pro tip: for convenience, I eat them with the skin on).  Rachel and I tried some other yummy food samples, and my road-dog bought a coffee before we went on a long walk to a grassy crater, which used to be a volcano. 

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Volcano crevice or grassy knoll?

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New Zealand does not lack gorgeous views.

After our long walk, we grabbed lunch at a perfect Malaysian restaurant that Rachel had picked out, and my food was so good that, as soon as I finished my first helping, I ordered it again. 

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This is a before and after picture, except both plates are the ‘after.’

I couldn’t finish the second, identical plate. Raise your hand if you could have seen that coming.  (Dad, I see you raising your hand.)

Rachel and I continued on to more adventures, like a wooden door interactive art exhibit (lame), and a sensory maze, which was in a mall and ironically difficult to find.  The maze ended up being one of the coolest things we did in Auckland because it was so much fun and just, overall, a really unique experience. Here’s a link for those who want to check it out. Or, for us, when we go back.

That evening, Rachel and I rented a car.

The next day, we woke up and headed straight to the tourist office to get the directions to walk to our rental car. AND GUESS WHAT HAPPENED???? Well, since I’m trying to create intrigue, you won’t get an answer until you read the next post. 🙂

(More) New Zealand fun and frenzy coming your way soon,
‘mi

One Response to “1. New Zealand, who dis?”

  1. Paul Garcia September 2, 2019 at 3:34 am #

    Looking forward to part 2…

    PS – It’s official, I’ve completely forgotten what your real voice sounds like and it’s been replaced with the improved digital voice, who, whenever I hear it, now sounds like you lol

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