Day 1 - Auckland
We arrived in Auckland early, around 4:50 am, and collected our baggage with a minimum amount of trouble. Customs
was another thing, Jen having taken the "used hiking boots" checkbox a little figuratively, meaning we got cross-examined
and sent for a boot sample. After that, we collected our rental vehicle and headed to our hotel. Drivers were relatively
easy-going and it was early, so my unfamiliarity with driving on the left hand side wasn't a gigantic obstacle. The main issue
is that sense all the controls are reversed, I kept turning on the wipers instead of signalling.
Our rooms were not ready, of course, so we took a small hike through the neighboring graveyard, which combined temperate
rainforest, crumbling cemetary, and highway overpass. After that, we scouted out local eateries, before having to the Auckland
Zoo. We had a pleasant time at the zoo, seeing both Keas and Kiwis, as well as the local asian elephant that the zookeepers
took on tours around the zoo. That put us at noon, and after getting lost trying to find a suggested restaurant, we ate at
a chain called Peri-Peri which dealt in Portugese marinated chicken, and was quite delicious. We found our way back to our hotel
where I faced a personal worst nightmare: Attempting to get a large SUV into a tiny parking garage while driving left-handed.
It did not end well. After taking some paint off our shiny new rental SUV, I finally got it into the parking space. I went
upstairs to get a much-needed shower, and wash my clothes, as our room had it's own private washing machine. Unfortunately, Jen
forgot her passport in the machine and promptly wrestled with it to try to get it to shut off and open. After some time, she
managed to get it to drain, and the passport appeared more or less intact.
Following this drama, we headed to New Zealand War museum, where we took in as much of it as we could before closing time. We
passed several wonderful gardens on the way back (including two greenhouses) and returned to the hotel to rest our weary feet
before getting dinner. We ate at a local Italian restaurant located under the "Number 5" grill, which was quite pleasant. The local
hospital had constant helicopter flights and was located nearby, but we were all far too tired to be disturbed.
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