I've always loved flying. It's a mixture of things that make it such an exhilarating experience. That moment when the engine really starts roaring and your pushed back into your seat, or knowing that when you get off the plane there is a whole new corner of the world to explore. For me, that excitement is multiplied a million times over if your destination is one that you have never visited before. Auckland is definitely a new part of the world for me. I came into New Zealand with pretty stereotypical expectations, and I've got to admit- when we got through the immigration gates and found ourselves greeted by a dozen wild-eyed Maori men performing the Haka (which was amazing!), I thought my pre-conceived ideas totally validated. Over the next few hours however, my view of NZ was reshaped. The drive into the city gave us a glimpse of Auckland's fantastic variety of architecture and unique flora that seems to flourish even in heavily developed areas, giving the city a weirdly tropical feel. We are lucky enough to have been provided accommodation at a YHA right in the centre of town, so most of the city is right on our doorstep. Like most of NZ, Auckland is an incredibly volcanic area; in fact it's easy to spot a volcano from almost anywhere in the city. This makes for really interesting topography- coming from Australia, where almost everything is dead flat, it's a very different experience walking around a city where everything is on a different angle- it makes for some killer views!
We caught up with my brother Tom, who has been living here for a few months and his NZ girlfriend Yaana, who was kind enough to show us around, and around, and around. Both of them are useless when is comes to directions so we got the whirlwind tour of Auckland's backstreets, laneways and illegal turns before finding ourselves in the fairy-lit suburb of Parnell. Such a funky main street, lined with busy restaurants and smelling of wood fired pizza. I had been told to try a beverage that was unique to NZ by a lady at work a few weeks before, so when I was asked what I would like to drink I, feeling very proud of myself for remembering the name, boldly declared that I would like an ice cold glass of LSD. The waitress gave me a pitying smile and gently recommended that I instead try L&P as I would find it slightly more refreshing and a bit less trippy. She was right, so after a delicious prawn and chilli pizza dinner, free of any flying kiwis, we got back in the car and drove up to the Auckland museum, which offers a stunning view of the city lights and landscape- the perfect end to our first day.
With jet boating tomorrow then a drive up the north coast, we've got a lot to look forward to- can't wait! Auckland has been an absolute treat so far and my only regret would be that we're not staying longer.