By Ben |

Tues, June 25

We were squashed together quite tight in the middle of the central row of four seats, and the position of the seat legs meant that we couldn't both have our bags in front of us, but we slept for most of the flight anyway. They served us three meals spaced about four hours apart — the last of which was breakfast — and Jessie and I made a point of ordering different things so we could share.

Although we did not go through customs in Sydney, we had to go through security a second time before boarding the Qantas flight to Auckland, but we made our connection in plenty of time. They served breakfast again, which Jessie pointed out was our "second breakfast!" We got our first taste of the wooden utensils that are provided with takeaway food in NZ, where single-use plastics have been outlawed.

We arrived in Auckland around 2pm and went through customs, which was mostly biosecurity. I had filled out the declaration after packing my hiking boots with dirt on the soles, so they had to clean the boots before giving them back to me.

Our hotel, Oakwood Manor, had an airport shuttle but not much nearby. We walked to the "town centre" which turned out to be an outdoor mall that was just closing. We attempted to get dinner at an Asian BBQ takeaway, but we were confused by their system of ordering and ended up with a rather small meal to share. So we then went to Maccas (as the locals call McDonald's, and the chain has embraced the nickname) and shared a chicken sandwich as well as the takeaway. Their burger offerings were a bit higher quality than in the US. Then we stopped at Countdown, a grocery store chain run by Woolworth's, to get some provisions.

Although I had planned to dress in layers, I forgot to bring any long-sleeved shirts, just a light jacket, so I was pretty chilly. We took an Uber back to the hotel rather than walking back in the cold.