Last cycle, Hayden and I touched down in Auckland on our way to Adelaide, but did not actually leave the airport. Now, we were stopping there for real. I had it in my head that Auckland would be like the New Zealand chamber of commerce, and it turned out to be not very much like, though not completely unlike, a city-scale version of a chamber of commerce.
The Early Morning
I woke up at 6 AM to pack all of my stuff before our Uber arrived at 7, because I had fallen asleep without packing the night before. It was an extremely grumpy time and Hayden mumbled something about it being better for Rab to pack at night. I think I grumbled back that it would have been the same.
Hayden had a yogurt, but I was too rushed and too grumpy to eat. Luckily, we made it down to the Uber in time without forgetting anything, probably. The ride to the airport was fast and we had a pretty easy time getting through bag drop and security. With an hour to spare, Hayden and I shared a “big brekkie” and a smoothie and wandered around the airport playing Pokemon Go. Unfortunately, all the Pokemon gyms were just outside the airport building, so Hayden and I stood facing the wall trying to get within range of gyms. We failed, and stared at a lot of walls.
First, we had a flight from Adelaide to Sydney. This time, I slept through the entire thing and didn’t catch a single glimpse of Sydney from the air. My head kept falling off Hayden’s shoulder as I slept. He kept putting it back.
In Sydney, we played more Pokemon and did an easy raid battle and had Japanese food. It was really good udon. I haven’t had udon in over a month, and this was good udon. Sydney Airport udon, definitely better than Palo Alto udon.
The Rental Car
We had an easy connection from Sydney to Auckland and then a long but uneventful journey through New Zealand customs. The eventful part came when we found out our discount rental car company had closed for the night without warning. After a long, painful conversation on the phone with the company’s shuttle bus driver who didn’t know what was going on, we called it quits and realized we’d have to figure the rental car thing out in the morning. As it was getting quite late (9 PM), Hayden got us airport McDonald’s for dinner while I sat pouting by the luggage.
Luckily, our new Airbnb host came to our aid and got us from the airport. Definitely earned his 5 star review. It was a huge relief and the studio apartment was really nice. I started to feel better once settled into the cozy place and not so sad about the dumb rental car.
In the morning, Hayden called the rental car company and arranged for us to pick up a car from their Auckland city location, which was only a short walk from our Airbnb. The Airbnb was in a very central location, within walking distance of pretty much everything interesting in the Auckland city center. At 8 AM, we walked to the rental car place, playing Pokemon Go the whole way there. Our rental car was a 2008 Nissan Note that had a lot of dings and zip ties holding its wheel covers on. Once it was finally in our possession, I loved it — every time I look at it, I see how much money I saved. It’s so ugly.
We drove the rental car to the apartment and parked using a car lift, which involved backing into a giant elevator and then riding up a floor. It wasn’t so bad. I got us muffins at the Albert Park Cafe next door to our apartment, then went back to the unit and took a long nap.
After the Nap
Ready for the world once more, Hayden and I walked to a nearby outdoors store, where we bought cooking supplies and backpacking meals for our upcoming Great Walks. Afterwards, we went to the market and stocked up on meal supplies, getting a bunch of non-perishable things for the next month in New Zealand and some other stuff to cook food over the next couple days. I’d purposefully booked mostly places with full kitchens, so that we would be able to save money by cooking meals. Our experience with eating out constantly the last time we were here had not been very positive, so I was very excited to improve the quality of our meals.
Do Not Eat Sizzlers
Ironically, our first cooked meal was hot dogs and beans and turned out disastrous. Though hot dogs and beans are not inherently bad (in fact, often good), I had insisted on buying these sketchy on sale hot dogs called Sizzlers, which had a product recall notice on them due to having cheese present in the product without listing it on the packaging. Neither of us are allergic to cheese, so I asserted that everything would be Fine. Due to a miscommunication between the package instructions, me, and Hayden, the Sizzlers turned out undercooked, soft, and gross. We picked around them and ate the beans, vowing not to get sketchy food anymore.
Though the primary purpose of starting in Auckland had been to stock up on camping things and food, we also had fun walking around the city. Pokemon Go is a great way to have fun exploring a city. At the Auckland port, we found so many Psyducks, Tentacools, and Magikarps.
We also got ice cream cookies. In a shocking turn of events, we made the mutual decision that we did not want to eat ice cream for awhile.
For dinner, we made balsamic chicken skillet, potatoes, and broccoli.
Hayden: I liked cooking the meals.
The next morning, we would be driving to Paihia to see the Bay of Islands.
Hotel Ratings with RAB
I’ve decided to start rating all my hotels/various accommodations throughout my journey. Though I neglected to take any photos of the Airbnb in Adelaide, I’ll review that one first. Hayden is busy playing Sim City on his phone right now, but I’ll try to pester some quotes out of him.
No complaints. Like, 9 out of 10? I mean, like, it wasn’t spectacular.
— the Hall Report
Apocalyptic. Okay, so the 20 millipedes crawling out of my stuff and onto the floor of the apartment kind of ruined things for me. The first morning, the millipedes were all in a clustered location near the luggage, but eventually a select few found their way to the front door, the ceiling, and even the bedroom. I walked around the apartment looking for millipedes, which wasn’t the apartment’s fault at all, but it brought on some secondary gross outback vibes.
It’s not their fault, it’s your fault.
— the Hall Report
Peppers??? I stared longingly down Waymouth Street down at Peppers Waymouth, where we’d stayed last cycle after the race. It had been the more expensive option this time, so we had opted to go with an Airbnb. This place had a nice pool, but nothing else super glamorous. It feels wrong to complain.
Final Rating: Fine
It felt like a real home. And it had a great location because it was next to everything we could possibly need.
— the Hall Report
Home Sweet Home. The apartment complex felt very safe, and had blue accent paint on the kitchen cabinets that really completed the homey look. The bed was fluffy. The single big window brought in great natural light. It’s hard to describe.
Location, location. This post says it all.
Final Rating: Relaxing