Our alarms expectedly yet nonetheless rudely woke us up just after 6:00AM this morning. We managed (I think) to successfully pack everything back into our couple bags a person and head off in an Uber to the Melbourne airport.
After being given a bit of shit for not preparing well enough to enter New Zealand, we managed to get through security with about half an hour to spare. We had grown a bit hungry by this point, so Ethan and I decided to split a box of Tim Tams for breakfast while Aaron went to go find coffee.
The flight from Melbourne to Wellington was only three and a half hours (plus a two hour time change), but we were treated like royalty. We were served some combination of food and drink not once, not twice, but four times. I should be flying Qantas more often.
Upon landing in New Zealand, we went though a fairly rigorous customs process, mostly focusing on bio security. There were a number of posters indicating that having any food in your bag and not declaring it could result in at least a $400 on-the-spot fine. Needless to say, I made sure to completely empty my backpack before entering the customs line to make sure that I had absolutely nothing edible left within it.
We exited the airport and made our way to a car rental for the most monumental part of our trip so far – getting and preparing to drive a car in a drive-on-the-left country. Getting into the passenger seat on the left (as opposed to the right) is already a bit weird, but once you’re within the car everything seems in place again. There are some other small quirks – as my mom pointed out to me before I left, the turn signal and the windshield wiper levers are reversed. The whole drive-on-left change seems strange at first but isn’t hard to adjust to (I have only navigated so far but Aaron is doing a wonderful job of keeping us from crashing.) The bigger issue, perhaps unsurprisingly, is that all of the roads are fairly narrow because they don’t have to accommodate America’s stupidly wide SUVs.
After a twenty or so minute drive we arrived at our accommodations for one night, the wonderfully named Dwellington. We checked in but left our belongings in the car, as we first decided to go grocery shopping for tomorrow’s pack out lunch.
Once our groceries were shopped, we dropped the perishables off in the kitchen of the hostel and made our way to Cuba street, a partially walking-only outdoor area packed with bars and restaurants. The area is neither rundown nor upscale, and is quite hard to describe to be honest. What I can say is that it was basically empty, even given that it was a Tuesday night. We walked around for a bit and eventually decided on Little India, an Indian restaurant that we found out after the meal is part of a chain. I got a spicy lamb dish and garlic naan; I was sweating profusely throughout but basically licked the bowl clean, which is how you know it was a good dinner.
We had to see just a little bit of Wellington’s bar scene before we left, so we wandered around to a couple bars near Cuba street. The first was a speakeasy-themed establishment, nestled behind an unsuspecting alley. The bar was very personal, seating only around twenty and of that approximately half full. The menu was ever so slightly on the expensive side (around $12 american for a cocktail) but was very fancy and interesting. I got a tequila/apricot/lemon cocktail that was simply delicious and disappeared all too quickly.
On the way to the next bar we got a sample of New Zealand’s standards of advertising. They’re.. well… just take a look.
Our final stop of the night before returning to The Dwellington (yep still funny) was a local brew/pup that served their own beer. I didn’t order anything but got to sample a bit of Aaron’s beer. It was quite nutty and toasty, and very lightly bitter; I was quite a fan. I snapped a picture of the wall, and we headed out.
Tomorrow we begin New Zealand for real!