New Zealand Trip Report – Day 1

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.

By |2012-03-13T01:05:56-04:00March 13th, 2012|My Life|1 Comment

Good As Gold – New Zealand Trip Report

I’ve arrived back in the States after a week long trip to New Zealand. I’m contemplating how best to go about a trip report and I’ve decided to break it up in multiple segments. I’m going to use this post to describe my general thoughts on life in New Zealand and then use a few different posts to detail our trip. I have tons of pictures which we took and also quite a bit more from Nicole’s camera. If you’re her friend on Facebook you’ll probably have seen some, but for those who aren’t her camera will give better detail than mine. I want to add that I spent the last 24 hours traveling and I’m not sure how long it will take me to get detailed posts up, probably a few days. Considering this is probably one of the most exciting things I’ve done in a while, I recommend checking back over the course of the next short period of time for updates.

When your plane arrives in New Zealand you immediately realize the incredible nature of the scenery. It’s strikingly beautiful and nothing like I’ve ever seen before. We spent most of our time in Queenstown which is where Jeff and Nicole have found residence and the pic below gives you an idea of the city. There’s a huge lake in the middle and the town wraps around the lake.

Once you get past the beauty you have to adapt to the city and the people. Queenstown is more of a tourist attraction and it took quite a bit of getting used to how things are priced. The New Zealand dollar is a bit weaker than the US dollar but they make up for that by jacking up the price. Beers are the first thing to notice and a $5.00 beer is considered a very good deal. A 20oz bottle of water will run about $3.00. A major difference though in New Zealand is that there isn’t tipping. Meaning that the tip (and tax) is calculated in the price which also makes everything look super inflated. When you first get there and see a cheeseburger for $22 NZD you get a little dizzy. You start to get used to it but on a whole the US has significantly cheaper prices on mostly everything. It was odd seeing a $250 icebreaker sweatshirt and a $350 pair of Uggs.

The next thing I noticed was that there is much less “free” internet. Businesses aren’t handing out free wi-fi and I can only imagine that people aren’t streaming Netflix like here in the States. The TV is also on a much lesser scale from what we Americans are used to. I think our hotel had 10 channels or so and Jeff was used to getting 5. They don’t censor anything on their TV either which was interesting when Laura and I were watching Daisy of Love and they weren’t bleeping out F bombs. We hardly watched any TV though and I don’t think many people are as infatuated with it because there is so much outdoorsey things going on. I think this has it’s pluses and minuses. Another point of interest is that sports are cricket and rugby with a smattering of soccer.

The final thing which I’m going to write about in this post is that THIS IS THE LIFE. Although not a practical lifestyle for 7 days, this is exactly what I would want to do with my free time. We spent quality family time together, good exercise in hikes and biking, and the fact that I didn’t have my phone on me for 7 days was unbelievably liberating. You could live a long, stress free life this way. Just going on a run next to a lake with amazing rolling mountains in the background is such a better feeling than running on a treadmill or on the streets of Manayunk. I just felt alive climbing Ben Lomond and trips like this make you want to travel more. You work so you can spend time this way. No big screen TV could make up for this experience. It was a mere 7 days in a different country but this time spent and memories made will never be forgotten. I see what’s out there and now I know how good it can be. Here are a few pics below which might pop up in later posts.

By |2012-03-12T23:42:28-04:00March 12th, 2012|My Life|0 Comments

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