Then there was the wait for Katie (who was on the flight behind mine). Apparently, sitting on the floor near baggage claim surrounded by luggage is cause for concern for security. I assured a different officer every 15 minutes that I was fine, just waiting for my friend, which didn't seem very believable until an hour into my wait when her flight finally showed up on the screens.
We made it through customs, to be greeted by this handsome fellow.
The excitement of finally being in New Zealand quickly turned to frustration when our rental car was no where to be found.
The company was horrible. They didn't answer their phone, and their office address was a boarded up shack that could be used as the set of a horror movie. They emailed me later to say they thought we were arriving at 8:30 pm. Believable, except the scheduling on their website was done in military time.
Thankfully, an expensive taxi and a stop by Budget in Auckland yielded us an almost new hybrid for me to learn how to drive on the opposite side of the road. I figured it out fairly quickly, as the choice was figure it out or end up in a head on collision.
Katie only had to point out I was on the wrong side of the road a few times and it was always on empty residential roads. This was far, far less than either of us was expecting.
With our new wheels and new found driving on the left skills, we headed out in search of the Frolic Cafe for breakfast since one of us* didn't eat anything on the plane and was ready to kill someone.
That same person then proceeded to lose her shit over how orange the egg yolks were when the food did arrive.
The "Breakfast Buttie" was the perfect I'm-starving-feed-me-know breakfast. Grilled bacon (nothing like the far superior American bacon, a lesson I learn then forget) served in a warm buttered ciabatta bun with caramelized onions and tomato chutney. They may not do crispy, smokey bacon here, but chutney as a condiment almost makes up for it.
Fortified, we made our way towards our first accommodation.
Now, I might not be able to book a rental car online, or sleep on a plane even when I've procured myself extra leg room, but I booked my first ever AirbnB like a pro. We stayed here for the first 4 nights. And it was glorious.
Jeanette and Gerry's house sits on the end of the Te Atatu peninsula, offering panoramic views of the water and the city.
It was the perfect place to have a glass of Paso Robles Pinot and Napa Chardonnay that we'd picked up in town.
Or, ya know, the local wines.
New Zealand has a wine hoarding problem. At wine shops in California I can find maybe 4 bottles of NZ wines. But there are so many. Having to choose between hundreds of delicious, affordable local wines was a very welcome problem after the fiasco of the morning.
We cracked open bottles in our color of choice (white for me, red for Katie) and sank into the deck chairs quite content to get lost in our books for awhile.
By awhile I mean about ten minutes. Both of us were restless after the long flight, so we commenced with exploring the property.
There's a trail that goes around the peninsula...
...which includes guavas and feijoas. Feijoas are a local fruit that everyone seems to grow. I think they're a bit of an acquired taste, which is code for I didn't really like them. This could have something to do with the fact that I ate my first one wrong. Feijoa season seems to be going strong so I still have time to come around to them.