Day One in New Zealand

Excuse the week-long absence here on the blog & elsewhere. Greg and I successfully made it to New Zealand after a flurry of last-minute preparations! I’m planning to do a couple of comprehensive prep/packing posts, but for now, I just thought I’d share what we’ve gotten up to since we landed approximately 28 hours ago.

We took an overnight 12-hour flight from Los Angeles to Auckland, fell asleep on Friday night, and woke up on Sunday morning. Saturday, September 6 didn’t exist for us thanks to the International Date Line. For the first two nights, we’re staying with a cheerful and friendly Thai couple in a room booked via AirBnB. After we stowed our bags and took much-needed showers, we were invited to go to one of Auckland’s Sunday markets, an invitation that we promptly accepted! The market was bustling and we went a little crazy buying fruit, including a massive bag of kiwis for less than $1 USD!

Sunday market Auckland

In the right side of the photo, you can see volunteers from two different political parties competing for everyone’s attention. New Zealand’s national election is coming up very soon, and there are banners everywhere advertising the candidates and their parties.

In the afternoon, we ventured out to the town of Mangere to buy some groceries at Pak ‘n Save. The food prices don’t seem that bad so far; they’re roughly comparable to Whole Foods, so luckily we’re fairly used to them having lived in Chicago!

After our grocery trip, we spotted what looked like a modest plateau in the distance. We spontaneously decided to see if we could get close enough to climb it. We had no idea what we were getting into…

Mangere Mountain

What looked like a plateau from afar turned out to be an elaborate volcano crater that erupted some 18,000 years ago. Now, cows graze on the lush green grass at its base and a series of paths have been worn onto the sides of the volcano from visitors eager to witness the panoramic views of Auckland. In its center is a lava dome, a unique feature that few volcanic sites share.

Lava pile - Mangere Mountain

Known today as Mangere Mountain, the extremely fertile slopes of the volcano were terraced by the Māori and used to grow kūmara, among other crops. The terraces still decorate the outward slopes, giving the mountain a rippled appearance. True to its reputation, the 106-metre (~350 ft) mountain, in conjunction with the gorgeous sunny weather, afforded us spectacular views of New Zealand’s largest city.

View of Auckland from the South atop Mangere Mountain

You’ll notice, perhaps, that many of the rooftops are tiled. It may seem like a small change from shingled roofs, but the tiles, along with the numerous palm and banana trees, lend a decorative, slightly tropical vibe to the city. There were beautiful trees growing along the rim of the volcano as well.

Tree atop Mangere Mountain

My favorite view was of the Mangere Lagoon, located just to the southwest of the mountain, and the outlying Manukau Harbor. The entire area was lush, green, and radiant in the early spring sun.

Manukau Harbor from Mangere Mountain

After our unexpected hike, we were utterly exhausted. Cue a 12-hour sleeping session! The benefit of feeling like you’re 7-8 hours “ahead” is that it’s very easy to wake up early.

I’m not sure what we’ll get up to today — but our first 28 hours in New Zealand have been nothing short of spectacular! More updates to come soon.

29 thoughts on “Day One in New Zealand

  1. Haha, I wrote my other comment and then found this post. Lol. So, now I KNOW how it’s going. 😉 It must be so exciting and a bit discombobulating to be there… but wow, the scenery is gorgeous. I’ve yet to make it to NZ, so I’ll anxiously be reading your posts to get your take on it. 😀

    1. No worries! It’s not really all that discombobulating. I mean, everybody speaks English! And I understand basically all of it since I did so much “research” (a.k.a., watched a ton of Flight of the Conchords). We have decided that we’re going to have to buy a car, though. Public transportation is quite expensive here, takes longer, and we definitely can’t get to all the scenic little towns via bus. So… I might have a car again! Haven’t had one since high school! I suspect it’ll be quite nice, actually, to be able to get anywhere we want at any time. Petrol is super expensive here, though.

      1. It’s funny how transportation options affect your choices. In Calgary, I could not live without a car – it was actually impossible to do anything without one, but here, I actually just let my drivers license expire! I really saw no point to having one here, and I’ve met so many Koreans in their 20s who have no idea how to drive!!

        1. Yeah I didn’t need a car during the 5 years I spent in Chicago. It was a bit of a pain carrying groceries back on the train in the middle of winter when it was beyond freezing outside, but apart from that it was mostly fine. Not having a car in Chicago helped me save up for… a car in New Zealand! haha – funny when I think about how it worked out.

  2. Really glad that things are off to such a dynamic start! It was great to see your parents and sister at my brother’s wedding. I’m looking forward to reading about both the good and the bad of New Zealand life; I won’t be moving quite so far afield, but I’m 8 months shy of moving somewhere(?!) so I appreciate the sense of adventure!

    1. Yes, I’m sorry I couldn’t make it to the wedding! It happened during my second-to-last week of work, I think. But I saw some of the photos on Facebook and it looked lovely. So glad our families were able to see each other for a bit.
      So far, most things have been good, if not great. The downsides are that the cost of public transport is higher (but so is gasoline, so that makes sense), food is pricier (but tastes fresher and better), and there is no central heating (so it gets really cold at night, but long-sleeved pajamas plus a fluffy blanket fix that). The big upside is that the minimum wage is $14.75/hour, so when we eventually take on low-wage jobs, we should be able to survive pretty well. Not to mention that it’s freakin’ gorgeous and everyone so far has been nothing but friendly, cheerful, and helpful.

  3. Omg, you moved to New Zealand! For some reason I missed that. It looks beautiful. I had a co-worker who moved there to do their Masters degree, it was an amazing adventure from the stories he came back with. Very lucky and enjoy!

    1. haha yes, I did! It probably seemed rather sudden! I have been completely absent from the blog for an entire week because there was so much left to do before the trip. Where did your co-worker get his Masters degree? I’m hoping I can get a PhD at University of Auckland or University of Wellington, then I can stay for a few more years!

  4. It looks like you are going to have an awesome time in New Zealand! I can’t believe you guys did it! Maybe someday Agustin and I will go there, it’s on my list of places I want to go, so you will have to tell me all about it (or I can just read your blog) 🙂 Enjoy!

    1. Yay thank you!! Yes, you and Augustin have been ALL OVER the place! It’s quite crazy! I check your blog from time to time as well 🙂 Definitely come to New Zealand, it’s beautiful and everyone seems cheerful. Pack sweaters, though!

      1. Ahh I am so bad about Blogging, I have so much homework from school that I am too tired to actually keep up with it! I wish I had more time, or was better at organizing myself! You are amazing! How do you do it?! 🙂

    1. Thank you! Yes, apparently we started off in a low-income area that is known for its “high” crime rate. It was beautiful, everyone was friendly, each yard had a fruit tree, and we felt perfectly safe! As we kept saying, “If this is the worst of New Zealand, then we can’t wait to see the other parts!”

    1. Aww how sweet! Yes, I like to brag that I have friends down in Dunedin on the South Island of New Zealand, but in reality I’ve never met them! (Greg knows them, though, so I think they are my friends by association) 🙂

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