Jason’s first impression:
Auckland is a very busy city with lots of people and great transportation. It reminds me of any major city in the states. We had a chance to see some sights as we waited for our bus heading north. After being up over twenty hours and having to take a bus out of Auckland four hours on a windy road at night with a driver who seemed to be trying to beat his personal best time, I would have expected to be irritated and grumpy. This was not the case. Ever since we arrived, the people have been exceptionally nice and very helpful. Their attitude helped a lot, especially after we had to pay twice for the bus ride and would not be able to go on the tour of the northern tip of the island due to the flight delay in Fiji. We had also lost a full day in one of the places we were excited to explore, The Bay of Islands. The landscape is just as nice as the people, it reminds me of driving through Sonoma County on the way out to the coast back home in California, except on the other side of the road. There are lush, green rolling hills and lots of farms with nothing more than a two lane road running through them. There seems to be much better food here than what we’ve been eating and even some decent brews, although both are expensive. In fact, everything is more expensive than either of us had imagined, especially coffee and beer. It seems to be comparable to the U.S. when traveling, although here they don’t tip and the tax is included in the price. The price you see is the price you pay, so that’s nice. I guess I’ll be drinking less coffee and beer in New Zealand, or I’ll be on my way home before I know it. I’ve got high hopes for Kiwiland and am very excited to explore the places I’ve only read about or seen in films. I cannot wait to photograph this place.
Simone’s first impression:
The first 24 hours were a bit of a whirlwind, but I can honestly say so far I have loved every minute of it! Arriving a day late we were so happy to finally be in New Zealand. Our expectations had been set pretty high and we were worried that this new country may not meet all the wonderful things we had heard. We arrived into Auckland around noon, quickly went through customs and our new friends Rachel and Dan showed us how to get to the city bus we needed. Realization number 1: People in New Zealand are SO nice! We took the bus 40 minutes into the downtown area and were surprised by the bustling city. High-rises, lots of cars and a large Asian population reminded us a lot of San Francisco. We were so happy to only be spending about 5 hours here! We found a little coffee shop and had a quick lunch before walking around the city, grabbing a beer, hitting up a grocery store and walking through a mall. Realization number 2: Food in New Zealand is EXPENSIVE! We boarded our bus at 5pm to take to the 4 hour journey north to Paihia where we would be staying for 2 nights. Realization number 3: New Zealand is super green! The bus ride was quite the adventure since it appeared our driver thought he was a Nascar driver! After 4 hours of twists and turns we made it safely to the beach town of Paihia. It was dark but we could already tell it would be beautiful in the morning. We walked one block to our small hotel to find a VERY clean unit with a kitchenette at the Anchorage Motel. Having been traveling since 3:30am we were ready for bed and quickly fell asleep. First Impression New Zealand: 4.5 stars