Arrival in Auckland

In mid-March I finally flew the last leg of my journey – over to New Zealand, where I hope to spend a year on a working holiday visa.

I stayed with my friend Jess, her husband and her very cute baby daughter for around 2 weeks whilst I got myself sorted. It’s incredibly invaluable having friends around the world, because it means you have a base to stay and local knowledge of the areas. I met Jess 5 years ago in the U.S where we were spend 3 months living in the same room as co-counsellors at a Salvation Army Summer Camp for underprivileged children – it was so great to see her again after all those years!

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Jess lives in a suburb of Auckland called Manukau, which is about 23km south of the city centre, and a 20 minute drive when there isn’t any of the infamous Auckland traffic. I spent much of time my time relaxing, enjoying Jess and the baby’s company and looking for a car. Getting around by public transport in Auckland is do-able but expensive and time-consuming. I took the train into the city on one day – a 30 minute walk to the station and then a 50 minute train ride (that’s why everyone drives!). This is precisely why I wanted to purchase my own car to get around in – and to sleep in whilst on the move.

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Having come straight from Melbourne (which is a bustling city with so much going on), Auckland felt a bit… small and quiet. Don’t get me wrong, it has it’s interesting parts – especially walking along the harbour, or enjoying the skyline from Mount Eden or One Tree Hill, but it doesn’t rate as one of the best cities I’ve been to.

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Nonetheless, Auckland is filled with some beautiful green areas, lovely beaches and detached single floor properties – hence why it’s such a sprawling city. Jess and I visited the botanic gardens, which are beautiful and also absolutely massive – there’s large grass areas, a forest, flower gardens, children’s educational areas and of course a coffee shop.

After a week I finally found my car – a dark green 1998 Mazda Capella station wagon – which came with a mattress, stove and $25 of change (Jess and I treated ourselves in a chocolate cafe) in the front door pocket. This enabled me to get around the city better, and meant I could go out to the shops and buy all the provisions and gear I needed to make my car a home away from home. (Some photos of my car will follow in the next post.)

It’s been fantastic to see my friend again and to be able to relax for a while before my journey in New Zealand truly begins – it truly is a great way to be welcomed into a new country and I’ll forever be grateful to them both for letting me stay.

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