We’re back and New Zealand was incredible! Posts to come about our adventures!
Day 1- November 18th
We arrived around 7 AM local time and rented a car and headed into Auckland as soon as we arrived. Chris did quite well driving on the opposite side of the road, although it took us about 20 minutes to get out of the parking lot. Mostly because there was an American family next to us and we let them go first only to discover they were even more timid. We walked down what we could only assume was their red light district searching for breakfast and found a beautiful old building called the “Theatre Restaurant”. This is where the waitress messed everything up for her comrades across the country by telling us not to tip. It was also our first experience paying $8 (NZD) for orange juice. We assumed that oranges did not grow in New Zealand and the import costs were high. We ended up seeing lots of orange trees on the North Island, though.
We spent the rest of the morning at a Greenstage [link] event which included exhibitions of electric cars, a software libre energy monitoring box [link] for photovoltaic collectors, batteries, and so forth, as well as rep-rap presentations by Vik Oliver of Diamond Age Solutions [link].
Exploring the city we found several nice parks and Chris had a bit of a nap in one of them. Something that I had not given any thought to was that since it was spring everything would be blooming. As such it was a wonderful surprise and I’m fairly certain that the average New Zealander must spend as much time working on their garden as the average American spends watching TV. We saw very few houses without flower gardens and none without manicured lawns.
We then went on a sailing tour of the Bay and the weather held out just long enough for us to take our tour and return to the dock before the sky dropped out. Even then it only lasted long enough for us to have dinner and then the sun came back out for our drive to Matamata.
It’s worth noting that the drive to Matamata was very beautiful but we spent a good deal of the time wondering why there weren’t any sheep and wondering if we’d been totally misled in everything we had heard about New Zealand, since we saw so many dairy cows.
A Note on the Weather: It was glorious the entire time we were there. We saw the sun all day, every day except for 3 days when it rained for less then half the day. We spoke to others who were in the country for the exact same time period but had traveled about differently and some of them had the opposite to say. We got really lucky on this account.