Now out of the airport, it was time to get situated in Auckland.
Exiting the terminal, CareFree and I walked across a street outside Auckland Airport’s international terminal, to its ground transportation area. A long line of taxis waited for passengers, so we really could have left at any time, but we opted to wait for a SuperShuttle, because it would be cheaper. It took much longer than we expected for one to show up, but eventually one did, and after one other stop, we made it to CareFree’s apartment in the southern part of Auckland’s CBD (Central Business District).
New Zealand is 17 hours ahead of the US East Coast, or seven hours behind, if you ignore the date difference. This means that acclimating to the new time zone is somewhat like staying up very late (which I unfortunately do on a regular basis). I didn’t get much sleep on the sixteen hour flight to Auckland (the longest stretch of sleep I think I got was about an hour and a half), so I was pretty tired once I go to the apartment. I allowed myself a short nap, before beginning the process of realigning my internal clock, by going out for a walk in the bright afternoon sun.
In the New Zealand summer, the sun is noticeably brighter than it is in the northern hemisphere summer. There’s a number of reasons for that. Significantly, the Earth’s orbit is an ellipse, not a circle, and southern hemisphere summer coincides with the Earth’s closest approach to the sun. Closer means more sunlight. Also, the air tends to be cleaner (for a number of reasons, including that there’s less land in the southern hemisphere, and less land means less people, with less pollution), which means less light is blocked from reaching the ground. This makes sunglasses (and sunblock) very highly recommended.
If this had been my first time in New Zealand, now would have been when I’d first explored Auckland, getting used to how everything was. Instead, it was more like visiting an old friend; pretty much everything was the same as I’d remembered it from when I left in April, including two skyscrapers under construction near the waterfront that didn’t appear to have progressed at all. New Zealanders drive on the left; it didn’t take any time at all to readapt to the flipped directions, but Auckland’s traffic and pedestrian traffic signal timing still remains confusing to me.
My first order of business was to get a new phone line so I’d have phone and internet access, so we walked to a One NZ store to see about adding a line to CareFree’s plan. Given my relatively modest needs, their prices were incredibly expensive, which was surprising and disappointing, since we figured adding a second line would be cheaper than getting completely new service. So instead, we went to Spark, where I got a prepaid three-month plan with 10 GB of data for NZ $49. (The exchange rate is not bad right now: that’s something like USD $29, which is a great price for three months of cell service.)
With that settled, we returned home for a relaxing afternoon. We got dinner from the fantastic Butter Chicken Factory, one of our favorite restaurants in Auckland. It’s a short walk away from our apartment, down Karanghape Rd (known as “K’ Road” to locals), a busy street described as a “creative hub for alternative arts & events, unique hospitality and independent retailers”. More important to CareFree and I are its large variety of restaurants. The great thing about being in the middle of a large city is that there’s nearly everything you need within (a normal person’s) waking distance!
The jet lag caught up with me, though, and by 7 pm, I couldn’t force myself to stay awake any longer.