Apr. 9th, 2015

same_difference: (Me.)
So as well as the photo spam that has started on Facebook I thought I'd try and do a few more long form entries in here.

So the holiday is now feeling more real as we're here; it was definitely a surreal concept till this point. Having said that I'm not sure I can keep the entire thing in my head as a real happening thing.

My first experience of long haul flights was a lot better than I feared or had been led to believe. Obviously the free upgrade to business class made a big difference to that. Though I definitely felt I'd be happy doing both legs Premium Economy. Business class was really weird in fact with the constant attentive service and always being addressed by name; definitely made weirder with the way having the table out meant you were trapped in your cubicle seat. Being able to lie down and sleep was nice, but it basically felt like sleeping on someone's settee more flat chair than bed. The business class food and drink was great and certainly not the place I expected to find the nicest mango I've had in years. The other unexpected detail of business - no view out of a window; clearly traveling business class means you should be beyond such things. Then again I expect photographing all your food is something else you should be beyond too.

One thing I missed from the second flight (other than being next to Rachael - though they did move us nearer to each other shortly before we took off) was the second plane didn't have an external cam underneath the fuselage you could watch. Seeing the first plane leave the ground was odd, but better was all the runway and London lights reflected on the bottom of the plane making it look like we were flying through the obelisk in the film version of 2001.

Booking a four star hotel was a very good idea. The bed is super comfy, the room huge and well appointed; just all generally what we needed.

The first proper day of the holiday we've definitely suffered some of the worst physical effects of jet lag but that didn't stop us exploring Auckland from a tourist bus, particularly an extinct volcano, a museum full of interesting Maori items and a war memorial, and riding up to the observation deck of the Sky Tower. First tower of the holiday. Having said that dizziness and tiredness from jet lag, a fear of heights and a 300m high tower with partially glass elevator and glass floor sections resulted in a nerve wracking experience. That's without thinking about the fact you can pay to walk around the outside with only a rope to keep you attached or even just leap off from the top...

Tomorrow will be our first drive and bird sanctuary island tour.
same_difference: (Me.)
One thing I forgot to mention in the post, the conversation with the taxi driver who took us from the airport to the hotel was about how there were too many immigrants, willing to work for too little leaving home grown kiwis without jobs.

Half way around the world, about as far from the UK as you can get and things don't really change.
same_difference: (Me.)
So day two sees us heading north to the Bay of Islands via a day trip detour to Tiritiri Matangi island.

Getting use to driving an automatic is weird. So far I've braked heavily trying to use the clutch at least twice, put the car in some other drive mode more trying to change gear, and the indicators are on the opposite side to add to the confusion. It's a nice big car though should make for some relaxed driving especially given the lower speed limits; the one thing I'm not enjoying is not being sure how much power I'll have available at any given moment.

The island of Tiritiri Matangi was very pretty; it, in the last 30 or 40 years or so, was converted back from farm land to a nature reserve, removing rats (via dropping poison across the island via helicopter) and reintroducing plants and native birds. All done by a team of volunteers one now 91 and still doing the guided walks. It’s not completely converted so you can go from seeing grass and thistles and other English plants to entirely native plants in a matter of feet. It adds to the generally surreal feeling of being a lot like England at times and then very much not.

Ended up being a good three or four hours of walking, lots of being shouted at by birds, and we managed a few photos. Lots of interesting little tour bits of info from our guide too. It was good we were in a small group consistent of us, a pair of Taiwanese honeymooners and a woman from Cardiff.

Once back on the mainland I drove us 3 hours north to Paihia which was mostly fine except from a night driving section if blind sharp corners. Funniest part was the directions to the motel where we're currently staying was basically drive straight for 200kms then take a left and you're at the destination. Also really happy with the motel owner, upgraded our room and parked the car as after 3 hours of driving I was struggling to get the automatic gearbox to let me make small controlled movements up an incline.

Just hoping now for no repeat of last nights likely jet lag related insomnia.

Also saw a stingray and some penguins in the wild :)

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