Waking up in Auckland
When you find yourself in a new place, there are bound to be many lessons to learn. One of the first New Zealand lessons happened when we arrived in Auckland and went to bed, and it still makes me shake my head at myself. I had packed a Marpac Dohm white noise generator to help drown out the noises of a new place so we (I) could sleep better. I had used it at home and loved it for that reason. The first night I plugged in the noise generator to our international power adapter, switched it on and laid down to go to sleep. About a minute later, I heard a fan on metal grinding sound, got up and walked over to the generator. I could already smell the burning motor and fried electronics. And then it hit me. I had read about the different voltage of New Zealand, and many other countries, compared to the United States. I turned on the light and flipped it over and sure enough, the power rating was only for 110V. My international power adapter had passed through the full 240V and fried the noise generator. I tried it again in the morning and confirmed, it’s completely dead. Nothing like hauling something around for days and cooking it in minutes. Oh well!
In what turned out to be amazing fashion, and despite having fried the noise generator, we all slept from about 10:30 PM till well into the morning. For me, that meant getting up at 8:00 AM, which is extremely rare. For Kaitlyn, that meant waking up at almost lunch time. I got to work getting all of our various electronic devices hooked up to the wireless so we could communicate with the outside world and we ate a quick breakfast of cereal that we’d never seen (another post on this and our experience at the grocery store later).
By this point it was time for everyone to shower (the shower had run cold the night before). We went to try showering again and discovered that the water was still cold! There had been a notice on the door when we arrived the night before mentioning maintenance on the pipes in the building that had been completed the night before, and when I called down to the front desk they confirmed that everything was completed and should be working. Of course, I started questioning if was being a “dumb foreigner” and was missing something in this new country. I made EXTRA sure that I was turning the handle in the direction of the hot water and confirmed that regardless of how I turned it I got two temperatures of water; cold and really cold. As Taya and I got ready to leave, we walked out into the hall to find huge sections of pipe freshly cut out and guys working on getting things fixed, again. Who needs a warm shower anyway.
Taya and I set out on a walk around the city to run some errands and we ultimately wound up at Jucy in the Central Business District (CBD) of Auckland. We walked inside and explained to the nice girl behind the counter what had happened to us the night before. She went back and talked to her manager and then told us that they had one that had just been returned and that they would wash it for us and let us rent it. This was a great surprise as the car they had for us was the minivan that we needed in order to be able to get our luggage to the airport, and they would even let us return it to the airport location at no extra charge. Awesome!
After grabbing the van, Taya and I took our lives into our own hands and began the fun of driving on the left hand side of the road. I had expected to have time to mentally prepare myself for this, but when they said they had a car for us, I had to pull myself together quickly and jump into the mayhem.
I’d been to New Zealand once before and driven for all of about 5 hours, so with that experience behind me, I didn’t find it all that challenging of a drive. Taya and I finally located a bank, where I found out that you have to have an appointment in order to setup a bank account, so we’d have to come back later.
We went back and picked up the family and ventured out again to find some lunch. If you know what a foodie family we are, you’ll know how ashamed we feel posting the restaurant we picked. Yes, Subway, manned by a super nice crew of Indian gentlemen (in this part of the country it’s almost always dot, not feather). It was a small thread of continuity back to our home country and it felt good to have a small comfort from home to eat.
With our new found freedom, full tummies and with no agenda for the day, we set out to find the ocean. Thanks to Google Maps, we found not only water, but a park right on the beach at Mission Bay in Auckland! When we arrived, the kids went shooting out of the car and straight to the water’s edge. They were glowingly happy as they found that the beach was covered in seashells! They began collecting shells that were particularly large or beautiful and created fun shapes on the beach.
They also played on the playground and worked out the energy they built up over 36 hours of being confined to cars and airplanes.
All in all it was a great and relaxing day of just getting grounded and being excited about New Zealand. We finished up the day with a delicious round of cup of noodles and Indian food. We came back to find the hot water had finally been fixed, had some hot showers and went to bed to sleep off the remainder of our jet lag.
That wraps up our journey and first day in New Zealand. We’re super excited to be here and yes, there have been and will be challenges, but to finally be here and see the beautiful landscape, we feel extremely proud to have made this huge leap and to have landed on our feet.