Did I make the announcement on here? Have I told you all? I know there are friends and family who follow me here and knew already, but to those who don’t, Jesse and I are in New Zealand for the next few months. We made the final commitment right after our France trip, booked our flights, quit our jobs, packed up our house, and said a (temporary) good-bye to the US. Here I’ll include a small “Academy Award Winner” speech and say thank you to my parents for watching our beloved Riley and my houseplants, to many of our friends for storing the crap we couldn’t fit in storage (including our cars), to those other friends who will miss us dearly and check in regularly, and to everyone else who are insanely supportive (albeit a little jealous).
Anyways, before the big send off Jesse spent a few days in Coeur D’Alene with our good friends and their brand new house while I camped out at my parents’ place. I was able to get in a good run with the dogs, watch some football, eat ridiculous amounts of Halloween treats, and do some pumpkin carving with the little ones.
Jesse joined us as some point and we then spent two days packing our actual bags and headed to the Spokane airport.
The next few days were a bit of a blur. Between various fumbles of airline customer service (I’m looking at you, United. This may end up being it’s own blog post. Stay tuned), the longest flight in the whole world, and countless connections, we made it to the southern hemisphere. My favorite part was the plane ride to Hamilton from Auckland. The plane sat only 19 people and our “flight attendant” was also the co-pilot. There were no overhead bins and the under-the-seat storage barely fit my feet. Needless to say, my carry-on was much too big. After quite a lot of anxiety in the luggage size / weight department, it ended up being buckled into its very own seat for the 25 minute flight.
Hellooooo New Zealand! We arrived on Halloween; Jesse’s dad picked us up from the airport and I was eager to see and do and explore. We took in Hamilton Gardens first thing (it was nice to walk and feel human again) and then we waited at the house for any trick-or-treaters. Apparently…Halloween isn’t a big thing in New Zealand. We got exactly zero kids. Oh well, more foreign candy for me! Which is funny, because logging into Facebook, my friends back “home” showed countless posts of costumes, parties, candy, decorations, pumpkins, and stories. Not that I missed it – Halloween is actually my least favorite holiday, but it was interesting to observe.
The next few days were filled with various activities: a play about Anne Boleyn, a visit to Lake Rotoroa, the street market, a long run, and the A&P show!
I was particularly interested in the sheep dog trials – because 1) it’s impressive and 2) this is what Riley should be able to do, right?
I also enjoyed the tiny sheep and goats, the alpacas and their bizarre sounds, and figuring out that “hot dog” does not mean the same thing in NZ as it does in the US. Oh, and Jesse saved the day in the goat barn. Sneaky little things!
Jesse’s sister arrived later in the week and we enjoyed hanging with her, per usual. We adventured to Lake Karapiro for a day of kayaking, since it was a beautiful day and it was fun training for the upcoming events we have on! Well, except for the way back when it was extremely windy and the waves began breaking and we were paddling against the current. Oh well! The lake’s inlets were the best – peaceful and overgrown, eventually leading to some waterfalls.
We finished off week one with a walk at Maungatautari, which is spectacular both inside and out, rose gardens, and some yard work (which is always surprisingly satisfying)!
So far, some things about NZ that are odd and / or I need to get used to:
- Driving on the right side of the car / left side of the road
- The accent
- Meat pies
- “Flat white” or “long black” coffee
- Weet-Bix and Vegemite
- Everything is so expensive ($10 for basic face wash? I just can’t…)
- No Thanksgiving
- It’s summer!
- The metric system