Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Enchanted Land

After hours and technically days of travel, I finally made it New Zealand!  It was a long trip, but so worth it! New Zealand is truly a magical place! I'll going to use pictures to illustrate...(get ready for a picture explosion)

We waited for a long time at LAX and obviously started getting kind of tired.  
Good thing we had 13 hours of flight time to look forward to!

As you can see we were pretty darn excited to get going.  Thank you Air Pacific! 
We did have a mostly pleasant flight.

         Air Pacific really got me in the island mood.  The flight attendants wore Polynesian        outfits and flowers in their hair and well every snack/meal/drink was complementary.  (Alcohol was included with those complementary drinks, and let's just say that some people should not be allowed to have access to lots of complementary alcohol.) This was my first meal on the plane.  It was semi-edible so heck, it did the job.

        We made it to Nadi, Fiji after 10 hours and were SO excited to finally be on land again.  Fiji greeted us with hot humid air and live ukelele music, so we were pretty content with life for the first little bit. (After four hours of waiting for our next flight, however, we weren't so happy.)

3 more hours and BAM! New Zealand appeared!  This lovely arch greeted us on our way to customs at the Auckland airport and we were reminded that we were in Maori land.   

We were also reminded that were in enchanted Lord of the Rings land, or should I say Middle Earth.  (The man on the left is wearing a sheath for arrows, the man in the middle is wearing armor, and the woman has pointed ears and a tiara.  Do any airports in the US have such enchanted adds? I think NOT.  Score one for New Zealand.)

We met up with our teacher and our tour guide of sorts (his name is James and he is AWESOME) and headed to a place called Whangarei (pronounced fawn-ga-ray).  On our way up we got our first view of downtown Auckland...

                                 ...And the unbelievably green Auckland well not countryside.
                                             This is just Auckland for ya.  It's b-e-a-utiful!

James decided to give us our first taste of New Zealand ice cream on the way 
home and boy was it tasty! 

The drive to Whangarei was long, but also extremely beautiful. Imagine taking all the green crayons from Crayola's big boxes and using them all to color a single piece of paper and you're pretty much imagining what every part of the drive looked like.  We got to James's house (where we would stay for the rest of the week) and proceeded to set up our mansion of a tent! We did a pretty good job if I do say so myself.  We were exhausted and easily ended our first day by going to bed at 10:00.   

Day 2 started early with trips to 2 different beaches.  This was the first beach was called Church bay.  No one should be allowed to go to a beach this beautiful, I mean really.  

          The water was deep blue-green and every inch of the surrounding area was covered in green.
         So pretty! (You're just going to have to deal with me saying that about pretty much everything!)

     The water was a little chilly so we spent most of our time soaking up some sun and eating yummy New Zealand treats (GingerNuts and golden kiwis, which are my new favorite fruit by the way.  They're way better than green kiwis!)

We also spent some of our time kayaking! It was so so so so fun! (P.S. You can see our wonderful James in the left hand corner. Everyone should be able to meet him.) 

The later part of our day was taken up by SURFING LESSONS!!! This is the lovely Sandy beach (creative name huh?) where our surfing extravaganza began.   

We learned from the instructors at Tutukaka Surfing Co. and actually made some significant progress. Let it be known though that surfing is not as easy as it looks.  After fighting our way to the deeper water and fighting against wave after wave, we were able to actually stand up a few times. We are winners! Our arms were dead by the end of our three hour lesson, but it was all worth it in the end.  (Pictures of us surfing will hopefully make an appearance soon.)   

Day 2 concluded with a stop at a little cafe that apparently sells some of the best fish and chips in New Zealand.  I'm not a huge fan of fish, but I decided to give it a go anyway.  Sadly enough, I didn't become a fish and chips fan.  Chips I like, but fish not so much.  We did also sample some New Zealand sodas though and those were sooooo good.  Lemon lime and bitters, peachie, and ginger beer. YUM! (This is us enjoying full bellies and another New Zealand beach.)

Today was day 3 and it was much more relaxed.  We wanted to go hike some mysterious cave, but due to rain we ended up shopping in downtown Whangarei, trying to go see a movie (movies are $10-$17 here...what's up with that??), doing yoga and gymnastics in the rain while James mowed his lawn (see Kylie's headstand and James on his lawnmower below) and deciding to just have a girl's day at home.  We ate more snacks than people should ever be allowed to eat (we did have healthy options thank goodness) and watched Pitch Perfect (which has great music, but absolutely terrible language dang it).  We finished the night with lots of chatting and dinner from James's wife Janet. Yum yum yum.  

She's talented. Just sayin'.   

This man is wonderful.

New Zealand has been wonderful thus far.  It already feels like it's going by too fast.  I'll just keep doing my best to eat up every minute of every day.  The only thing I know about tomorrow is that we're going to pick avocados for James.  I'm sure that and everything else we do will be wonderful.  I'll keep you posted.     

Bonus (luckily for you there's more to read!):
Here are some other fun facts about kiwi land...
1. Swimsuits are referred to as togs, coolers are called chilly bins, and flashlights are torches.  Am I going to change my vocabulary? I think so!  
2. I still have a hard time with the whole driving-on-the-other-side-of-the-road thing, but it's becoming more and more normal.  
3.  New Zealand accents will never get old. 
4.  Lots of people here walk around without shoes.  To them I say, more power to ya. 
 5. New Zealand sells some of the cutest one-piece swimsuits (or should I say togs) I've ever seen, but they're $200+.  Why New Zealand?! Why?!
6. I don't know why, but I love that cookies here are called biscuits.  
7. James has THE cutest granddaughter in the entire world.  If we could take her home we would in a second.   

Gwyneth everybody. It's impossible not to love her. (Oh and to top it all off, her mom calls her "my darling" in the most wonderful accent ever. In love my friends, in love)   



Corrine said...

I'm kind of jealous! This looks amazing!!!!

Alyssa Nichols said...

So the whole flight thing didn't seem so exciting, but oh my gosh the landscape is so incredible!! It looks like you are having a blast! Oh and Gweneth...cutest thing I have ever seen.

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