After two years of saving pennies and staring at trees in Vermont, I’m finally back abroad! A hop, skip, and a fourteen hour plane ride brought me to Auckland, New Zealand at 7am Wednesday morning. Except that it was Tuesday in the States. Right now it’s 10pm on Friday, so hello from the future. Not to spoil things for you, but Friday was great. Enjoy!
Unlike certain English border officers keen to keep any foreign foot from setting on British soil (I’m looking at you, Nancy!), the Kiwi that greeted us before we passed through customs was thrilled to hear about our working holiday visas, asked if we were excited, and wished us a wonderful visit.
I was pretty sure I would love New Zealand just from perusing their tourism website, which showed tremendous pride in their national traditions and sites, as well as encouraged everyone to be hospitable to visiting Rugby World Cup fans (now on in Auckland!). After being asked at baggage claim if I’d gotten all my luggage okay by an off-duty Kiwi flight attendant and hearing a customs official thank a Chinese woman by saying ‘xie xie’, I was positively shocked and verklempt at their genuine kindness and welcoming spirit.
A bus into Auckland brought us to the room we’re renting through Airbnb, a website where people can rent out their flat or spare rooms. Our flat in central Auckland was sunny and filled with all of my favourite books. A good omen. Tempted though I was to sit like a cat in a sunbeam and read, the city beckoned.
Thanks to the Rugby World Cup, the entire city is kitted out in its very best. Queen’s Wharf holds a giant inflatable rugby ball, a cargo box where you can watch the best of New Zealand’s appearances in film, an exhibition of the country’s 55 most innovative businesses, and a variety of games, food, and drinks. With massive indoor and outdoor screens, the Wharf is sure to be packed on match days, which I’ll find out firsthand tomorrow when Wales takes on France in the semi-finals.
Stayed tuned next week for a report on Auckland’s arts scene, Auckland’s take on Occupy Wall Street, which I’ll be attending tomorrow, and some of its unbelievably gorgeous scenery.