Arrival in New Zealand - holy shit its freezing...

Trip Start Nov 11, 2007
Trip End Jun 2008

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

So, May 19th 2008, a red letter day as I found myself finally leaving Australia and on the plane to Auckland. I carried with me an extra five kilos of luggage and an extra 10 kilos of midriff thanks to a really-quite-Stirling effort in Sydney over the past few months.
I waved goodbye to warmth and sunshine and was greeted in Auckland by darkness and cold, damp air. Jesus Christ I could be back in the UK. Thankfully the fleece and weatherproof jacket that have been completely redundant over the past 7 months were on hand to soften the blow.
My time out from travelling shone through with a stonking faux pas at immigration; I opted not to fill out my entry-card on the plane and instead decided to do so at Border security. 17 desks, all ready and waiting to check passports and issue stamps and absolutely no-one in the Non-NZ citizen line... ace. Unfortunately, the 3 minutes taken to fill out my card proved ample time for 45,673 other non-NZ citizens to get in the queue before me. At least 45,672 of them were non-English speaking Vietnamese. Grrr...
7 hours and 36 minutes later (ok, maybe 5 minutes...) I was through and being greeted by a massive, warming smile from Louise who'd come to meet me at the airport as my host for the next few days. Though I did toy with the idea of going off with the Vietnamese tour guide instead, who was there waiting with a sign for her 45,672-strong group.
And so shit, I was in New Zealand... a different country for the first time in ages... My first impressions were as follows: someone has taken Australia, given it a shake to thin out the people, pumped them all up (and up) with steroids, before plonking the country back down right over where the UK is. Its basically, yeah, Aus, only in UK. If that makes any sense.
So straight into the site-seeing as Louise took us up to mount Eden for panoramic views of the city. Bloody hell its cold. Naturally we were joined by bus loads of camera happy Koreans. Upon asking one of said tourists to take a photo of us, I was struck by an epiphany: As synonymous with SE Asians as, er, rice (#@%$?!), is their predilection to give the peace sign whilst posing for photos; however just as much so is the actual stance of the average SE Asian photographer - they always seem to squat, like they're about to have a poo, only standing up. Most intriguing.
Buoyed by this most scything of insights, my arse was carted to Kelly Tarltons underwater world. ON the way we followed a bus with an advert featuring the largest man in the world. This Maori gent was seen to be saying "our community is at risk too..." from what, we weren't exactly sure; though the notion was mooted that the guy in the ad was probably the danger, being that he could undoubtedly eat an entire community in a single serving.
And then yes, Underwater World by Kelly Tarlton. I had no idea who she was. As it happened, Aucklanders had no idea who she was either as the Kelly Tarlton who established this aquarium is actually a bloke.  Anyway, the place was pretty cool actually, albeit on the pokey side. Highlights included the excellent penguin enclosure which you actually got to ride through in a completely enclosed, bright red, snow mobile. That was pulled along on a conveyor belt. I wonder what the penguins made of that, 25 times a day?
Also cool was the sting-ray feeding session, where these particularly hungry aquatic carpets were only too willing to literally envelope the poor lass who was brave enough to jump into the tank with a bucket of herring.
What a great job... and my thoughts turned to possible careers upon arrival in England... put my scuba skills to use as a tank cleaner at Plymouth aquarium, perhaps????
A damn-fine Chicken Tikka Masalla drew my first visit to Auckland to a close, but I'll be back in a week or so.

Off to Rotorua tomorrow and time now to explore new Zealand's north island.
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