On Sunday 3/4/12, Laura, my Mom and myself were scheduled to catch a plane out of Philadelphia to LAX, and then from LAX to Auckland, NZ. Sam drove us to the airport and for some reason I had some anxiety about leaving. This was fairly off for me considering this was a complete pleasure activity and there was nothing to be nervous about. We got to LAX without a hitch and went through the Tom Bradley International airport to catch the flight to Auckland. This was a 13 hour flight and would require some resilience. I hate taking dumps on the airplane or airport so I essentially just held it the entire way. The plane to Auckland was pretty nice because each person had a TV with a huge database of movies, TV shows, and games to kill time. I also finished the 2nd Hunger Games book on the plane which I thought was a pathetic remake of the first book. The food on the plane was decent but it can certainly wear you down when you are constantly snoozing in and out of sleep over the course of the ride. We arrived at Auckland on a perfect sunny day and from there we had to catch a flight to Queenstown where Jeff was staying. The first things I noticed in Auckland was that the bathrooms were spotless and people drove on the other side of the road. The person checking in our bags was a Maori tribal member and brutally slow which I thought might be a trend here. We arrived in Queenstown at 2pm on TUESDAY. Remember we left Philly at 4pm on Sunday.
Since we weren’t operating with any phone we thought we might have some problems locating Jeff and Nicole. Luckily the timing was great and we found them a few minutes after retrieving our bags. Jeff had to work til 6 so we checked into our hotel which was about a 10 minute drive from the airport. The hotel was very modern and there was no difference between it and an American hotel. We had some time to kill so we decided to walk into the city and look around. We chose a Irish pub right on Lake Wakatipu for lunch. Being complete foreigners we weren’t exactly sure how to approach being served. This isn’t America where you sit down and a waitress brings you your food. We sort of stumbled on the idea of ordering our food at the bar and them bringing it to us when it was ready. I had the special “turkey club sandwich” for 12 dollars which was a tiny sandwich sliced into 4 parts. It tasted fine but this was a tip off of what prices were going to be like for what you get. The bill was something like 33 dollars and my Mom gave the woman 40. She gave us back 7 dollars change and my mom wanted to leave the 7 dollars for a tip. This was a sure sign that you were a foreigner as they don’t tip on any meals.
We did some shopping to kill some more time until Jeff got off work and we met up with them at a restaurant called Lonestar. Our server to start at Lonestar was a complete Kiwi (a New Zealand local) and I could hardly understand him. I ordered a supercold Stienlager which I’m not sure why everything they served wouldn’t be supercold. Laura ordered a “great” tasting drink that she took about 90 minutes to half finish. Another funny thing was when they asked if we wanted a “loaf” and Jeff was like sure we’d like bread. This was a sneaky way of charging the table for a 9 dollar loaf. This particular meal was pretty high priced and let us know what we didn’t want to do for the rest of the days. After dinner Laura and my mom headed back to the hotel and Jeff, Nicole, and myself went next door to shoot some pool. The other local drink was Monteith’s at the bar and they were 5 dollars each which was a good deal. We shot a 2 dollar game or two and called it a night. I was pretty zapped from the plane ride and was happy to get a good night’s rest. I took my contacts out and did something really stupid which set the tone for day 2.