Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Auckland

After a nine hour flight, Dave and I finally arrived in Auckland. We were able to get a new SIM card for one of our phones right away at the airport. After that, we took the shuttle to our hostel, Verandah's. It's quite a nice hostel in a beautiful spot overlooking down town and a park. It was a quick jaunt to get downtown, which we did almost everyday to use the free wifi at the local library. Wifi, as we have discovered, is a hot commodity around here. It is not free and unlimited like it is in Canada, (even at Starbucks!!). Many places have free wifi, but only enough for you to check your email and Facebook. 



We were able to get a lot accomplished in Auckland.  We got our bank accounts (with a note from our hostel owners saying we were 'residents' there). Afterwards, we got IRD numbers and were able to also get our car registered and car insurance. 

Getting our money to NZ was a bit of a hassle. We ended up using a company called Canadian Forex. It operates in many different countries under many names. You basically transfer your Canadian money to their Canadian bank account, and they transfer the new currency that you want from whatever country you want. It's simple, but not as quick as we had hoped.

We found a car on Wednesday, and had started to transfer our money two days before. Little did we know, the sellers were going back to South Africa on the Monday, and needed us to pay them ASAP. Our money wasn't guaranteed to come before they left, but luckily, Dave has some amazing family, who conveniently also happen to be Kiwis, so we were able to pay them on Friday. 

It was especially lucky because the South African family ended up deciding to stay an extra two weeks (and kind of wanted their car back!!).  It was good timing, and good family that got us our 1999 Subaru Legacy!!

Buying a car is ridiculously easy in New Zealand, and car insurance is optional (SERIOUSLY??) to our dismay.  The roads here are insane... but more about that later... 

While we were in Auckland, we went down to the quay, the Auckland Museum and the Sky Tower. It was a little stressful being there because of all the stuff we had to do, but it was also nice to be able to get some touristy things in!

Maori home. One of the most elaborate ever built.

Maori food storage. Also one of the more elaborate ever built.
Chicken bone at the top. Moa bone at the bottom!! These are all drumsticks.
 Dave treated us to a guided tour around the Auckland Museum. We learned a little about how the Pacific Islands were settled, Maori culture, dinosaur history and European settlement of New Zealand.

Chillin 'at the cafe in the Sky Tower

Sky Tower!




New Zealand has on central heating, so we are basically freezing everywhere we go. I'm so glad we brought out sleeping bags!! They are life savers!!!

Overall, Auckland is a nice city, very metropolitan. Not going to lie, we were glad to be able to purchase our car and get the heck out of there. We spent the next few days travelling around the north part of the island but more about that later!