I opened the window shade on the plane after 12 hours in the air and I could see the sun for the first time in what felt like days. In the distance was the outline of an island surrounded by majestic blue water. This is the moment I had been waiting for well over a decade. This trip had been number one on my life list and I was about to finally fulfill that dream.
We made it through the first part of customs easily and now our bags were going through the X ray machine. Right before mine went through I remembered I had stashed 4 clementines in there that we didn’t declare. We did check food but apparently that wasn’t good enough. The man opened my bag and pulled out the forbidden fruits. He said I was lucky I had said something or else we would have been facing a $400 fine. (note to self- never let your girlfriend fill out your customs card for you.) He gave me some story about how a fruit fly had wiped out some civilization hundreds of years ago. I wasn’t in the mood. I was jet lagged and in New Zealand. Just let me into your country already!
With that drama over we began to relax and picked up our bags and began walking toward the exit when a drug/food sniffing dog no bigger than a large rat sniffed at Brenda’s bag. We were told to stop and they went through her bag and found some Beef jerky that was in a zip loc. They said it had to be in it’s original packaging and promptly confiscated it. They took Brenda’s passport and put a warning on it for next time she comes into New Zealand. I found out very quickly that they take what comes into their country very seriously. We walked through the exit and into the moist Kiwi air. Welcome to New Zealand baby!
We spent the next couple days in Auckland walking around town. Our hotel was down at the wharf and our balcony view consisted at looking at the side of a cruise ship. Several ships came and went during our 2 days there. I found Auckland to have great food and be pretty pricey but I didn’t come to New Zealand to spend my time in the city. I wanted to see the land and see the country.
We spent the next day on Rangitoto Island. It’s a small island Near Auckland with lots of hiking trails. We took the boat over there and hiked around for about 4 hours. There was some pretty cool scenery and a nice lookout where you could see the city of Auckland. There was a lot of Volcanic rocks on the island which made footing on the trails difficult at times.
We took the boat back to Auckland and had a nice meal down on the wharf. We then packed up for our next adventure. A trip to Great Mercury island via helicopter.
We were picked up Sunday morning by a taxi and whisked to the airport. We were about to take our first ever helicopter ride to Great Mercury island. The pilot gave us a brief tour of the copter and showed us how to use the 4 way seat belt system along with the noise cancelling headphones. The ride was smooth and provided us with amazing views of the coast line. As we came to the island our pilot started buzzing the trees and beaches as the 100 foot clearance alarm shrieked in my headphones. It was quite a thrill and I snapped away on my camera like a complete tourist.
Once on the island we were greeted by a younger couple who worked on the island to help maintain it. They loaded our bags on the golf cart and drove us up to the main house. Sarah and Michael, who live there, greeted us gave us a tour of the main house. Michael asked if i wanted to go for for a walk. We walked among pine trees for about an hour or so and he referred to it as “the same old boring walk.” Hardly my take. He said there were about 3000 sheep on the 4000 acre island. He was trying his hand at farming these days and was loving it. We also talked a bit about women, adoption, and ….women.
Back at the main house we were sitting by the pool when out of nowhere comes a boat driving up the hill. Yes, i said a boat driving. It was Michael with his new toy.
We took a sweet boat ride after some starting issues and unnecessary paddling back to shore. We got a boats view of the island and all its beauty.
That evening we had a delicious dinner with lamb and we met Jonathon who was a guest of Michael and Sarah’s. He was from Ireland and had the best deep radio announcing voice I had ever heard. He runs a foundation called the Jack and Jill foundation. His wife owns Lily O’ Brien chocolates and you can purchase them at Trader Joes. He was a sweet and fascinating man to talk with. We talked about my work a little and both seemed taken with the work that I do.
Day 4 started off with me Archery. I haven’t shot a bow and arrow since I was at summer camp in 6th grade. Michael seemed to be enjoying his new found hobby and showed me a few pointers. I took me a bit but I managed to regain my 6th grade form pretty rapidly.
The rest of the day was spent hiking around the island and taking a few shots and swimming on the aforementioned beach. We had it all to ourselves!
The next morning we were picked up by the helicopter and taken to our camper van where were were heading for the South Island…