Our first stop on our New Zealand adventure was Auckland. New Zealand is very serious about their biosecurity, and about declaring any sort of food you bring, hiking you’ve done, etc. They posted a lot of signs in the airport that when (not if) they find something you haven’t declared, you’re getting an instant fine. We made sure to eat all of our perishable food (fruit, sandwiches, etc.) before we got off the plane in New Zealand. The customs process overall was fairly streamlined, and the only thing we needed to declare was the hiking we’d done. They checked out the bottom of our shoes, and had us stand on a rectangular pad with some sanitizing solution on it to make sure they were clean and not carrying anything.
We did have 5 Oreo wafer sticks left when we got off the plane. They probably would’ve been fine to bring through since they were all pre-packaged, but we just ended up eating them before heading to customs so we didn’t have to declare any food. 🙂
Side note: Oreo Wafer Sticks are our new snack / dessert obsession! We were sad to learn that they don’t sell them in the U.S. anywhere. They apparently came about because regular Oreos had poor sales in China, so they adjusted the recipe to make the chocolate less bitter and the cream less sweet. Thus the Oreo wafer stick was born, and there was much rejoicing.
NYE and The White Lady
We arrived in Auckland on New Year’s Eve, and found a dancing venue with Salsa! With midnight approaching, we walked outside on the street. By that time, a crowd had gathered to watch the countdown and the New Year’s Eve fireworks in the city center. It was a fun way to ring in the new year!
The next night we stopped for a late dinner at The White Lady – an iconic food truck that’s been serving up delicious burgers and shakes in the same location since 1948. They impressively haven’t missed a single shift since they’ve been open. We got the Hawaiian Burger and the Deluxe Burger, and Joseph got a Cookies and Cream Milk Shake. Both of our burgers were huge and delicious. Burgersss!
Auckland Botanic Gardens
Our last full day in the city we spent exploring their expansive botanic gardens and had a picnic lunch. The botanic gardens were 64 hectares ( ~158 acres) – even larger than the gardens we went to in Melbourne! Botanic Gardens seem to be a theme for this trip. So many cities have them, all of the one’s we’ve gone to are free, and they’ve all impressed us. Plus it’s a good opportunity to keep improving our photography skills.
They also had some of the most stunning colored hydrangeas we’ve ever seen. We didn’t know they came in all of these colors, as we’re used to seeing white or more muted hydrangeas back home. Quite a few houses have thick and tall hydrangea bushes lining their houses like the prettiest fence you’ve ever seen. Someday we’re going to get a bunch of these to line the driveway of our future house 🙂
Trapped in the AirBNB!
Until now, all of our AirBNB experiences up have been great. This time, our host left some questionable instructions about where to leave the keys and checking out. As a result, we got locked out of the apartment unit, but stuck in the building unable to get to our car or leave the car park! Instructions unclear: trapped in building! Luckily we weren’t stuck for too long before a woman in a neighboring apartment took pity on us and brought us to the building manager.
When we finally found the office, the manager was talking to two guys from the U.S. who had lived in Auckland for 14 years. The day we met them, they were preparing for a new group of Auckland study abroad students to come to town. One of the guys has a house in St. Paul, Minnesota. Small world! The other was originally from California, and he was able to come with us to our car and let us out. Yay!
Overall, we thought Auckland was a neat city, and worth a stop. We were still excited to keep moving south to see some of the amazing views that originally drew us to New Zealand.