Stories & Essays

The First 24 Hours in New Zealand

After a 13-hour flight from LAX, the plane touched down at Auckland Airport just before 7 am local time. I had been in transit for almost 24 hours by then, including a flight from St. Louis and a layover in L.A. I slept off and on during the flight but none of it was restful. It was still dark when the plane flew over New Zealand. All I could see out the window was a few lights below and coastal outlines. I could barely tell which parts were water and which parts were just dark rural lands. The sun began to rise just as we were landing, welcoming us with a deep pink and purple sky.

I started to feel sick the last few hours of my flight due to dehydration, poor sleep, and lack of substantial food. Getting off the plane and making my way through the airport was a total nightmare. My stomach was in knots the whole time, sweat covering my face as I tried to lug my backpacks through immigration, biosecurity, and back out of the airport. I really thought about ditching half my stuff right then and there, but that usually seems suspicious at an airport.

I sat at the airport for a couple more hours while I waited for my bus to the city to arrive. I still didn’t know what to think of New Zealand, considering I had been there for hours but had yet to step foot outside of the airport. I tried to get a glimpse through the bus window as we made our way into Auckland. All I could devise from that was the difference in the roads, the signs, and the type of trees that line the highway.

I got off the bus at Sky City, where the famous Sky Tower stands. I carried my bags a few blocks to my hostel. It was too early to check in (still only 10:30 am) but I was relieved to drop my bags off before exploring. I was still in my plane outfit (black running leggings and hiking boots), still horribly unshowered, and still slightly sick and totally exhausted. But hey, I was in New Zealand! I thought I would have a much stronger reaction once I stepped foot in the county, like “OMG I’m in another country”, but it didn’t feel strange at all. Perhaps that’s because Auckland feels exactly like a city you’d find in the U.S. It’s an English-speaking country with English roots—wholly westernized.

I spent a few hours walking around the Central Business District. I saw some of Albert Park, I walked up and down Queen Street, and I even walked down to the waterfront. All I managed to “eat” that afternoon was a smoothie. When I travel (as in the actual transportation part) for long stretches, I tend to get sick and lose my appetite. This time was no different. The only thing my body wanted was ice cold water.

I checked into my hostel a little later in the day. I was so happy to shower and change my clothes after so long. Auckland was quite humid, so I was sweating a lot in my unseasonable black ensemble. Freshening up really helped me to feel better. Changing into a light dress and flats was much more weather-appropriate.

I didn’t have anything planned for the day since I wasn’t sure how things would go. I didn’t want to eat, I didn’t want to “sightsee”, and I didn’t want to pay to sit in coffee shops just to use their wifi. Instead, I did some more walking. I realize more and more every time I go somewhere new that I don’t really like having my schedule too open. Some down time is nice (right now I’m sitting outside near the ferry building, enjoying the atmosphere as I write), but I mostly prefer having some things planned out. I like having a general outline for my day. I also like working on something (like my blog) or having some kind of goal to shape my day-to-day. That’s why I prefer to travel more slowly, so I can set up some sort of routine for myself.

I spent my first evening in New Zealand at the library, taking full advantage of their free wifi. I planned my next few days in Auckland and started to plan my next stops in New Zealand. I was back at the hostel and in bed by 9:30 pm. I slept almost 11 hours straight, so I was pretty adjusted to the time difference by the second day.

Sometimes I just want to tell people how…normal parts of my travels are. I think a lot of people imagine my life and travels are just 100% nonstop adventure vacation status, when the truth is that I have to do normal everyday things (which translates to “boring” if you’re just scrolling through your Facebook feed).

But I’m not really just traveling all the time—I’m living my life like any other person, I’m just not doing it all in the same place.


The First 24 Hours in New Zealand

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