A lot of traveling with a lot of luggage……Auckland to Twizel
06.10.2015 - 17.10.2015 16 °C
We finally arrived at our new home in Twizel, New Zealand yesterday October 16th after a long week of traveling.
We left Boise October 6th and arrived in Auckland Oct. 8th. For those that need to know, New Zealand is 19 hours ahead of Mountain Standard Time and 18 hours ahead of Central Standard Time. The flight from LAX was tolerable. Charles slept most of the flight. I took the middle seat between Charles and a young French man. Sleeping was challenging, so I spent most of my time watching The Hobbit and reading Lonely Planet New Zealand preparing for our adventures. We arrived at 7 AM and picked up our luggage; some faired better than others.
Our first few days were spent in Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand. We stayed at a quaint bed and breakfast with a very friendly local. We explored the city some but jet leg limited our energy. On Oct. 9th we had the opportunity to travel to and hike Tiri Tiri Matangi, an island bird reserve off the coast of Auckland that limits visitors. The birds, beaches, and plant life were beautiful. However, we did not get to see the nocturnal and moderately elusive kiwi bird.
Following our two days in Auckland, we set off in our rental car for Wellington, the site of my orientation for work. We made the decision to drive. Left-side driving (aka LSD) was a bit of a transition. New Zealanders constantly drive 20km/hr over the speed limit, pass as they please and tailgate. Charles has done > 90% of the LSD and I still am avoiding all city driving ☺. In route, we spent a night in Taupo, a resort town in the center of the north island. We took some time to explore the area stopping at Huka Falls and doing a short day hike in Tongariro National Park, the site of three large and still active volcanoes. We stayed at another quaint bed and breakfast with a local named Mike that took us to one of the local hot pools/hot springs. Given the weather has been rainy, windy, barely above 15 degrees celsius and locals leave all windows open, it was nice to warm up. Interestingly, you cannot put your head under water in hot pools in New Zealand due to an endemic amoeba that can cause meningitis.
We finally made it to the capital of New Zealand, Wellington on Oct. 11th. I had a crash course orientation on the New Zealand healthcare system. In brief, all citizens have health insurance no questions asked and all citizens and visitors have automatic catastrophic accident coverage. The electronic medical record is nation wide, very simple to operate, and reminds me of the VA in the USA. Malpractice coverage is super cheap and there hasn’t been a lawsuit against a doctor in New Zealand for over 7 years. They also briefed us on common New Zealand medical slang (see photo below). More comments to come as I start work. Wellington overall is a neat city with a beautiful botanical garden, a well-developed waterfront, good shopping and food. Most surprising, all buildings are built for earthquake safety and sway in the wind which can be felt when inside. There was a 5.8 earthquake up the coast from Wellington the second night we were in Wellington, however we did not feel any shaking.
After Wellington, we flew to Christchurch on the South Island. This is one of the closest large cities to Twizel so we used our time to purchase home goods. We also finally bought a car! After a few interactions with a questionable used car salesman we settled on the Mitsubishi Pajero, large enough to sleep in the back and 4WD able to climb mountains.
The drive from Christchurch to Twizel was beautiful. Twizel is located at the base of Mount Cook, the largest peak in the Southern Alps. The drive included a very green countryside, numerous clear blue alpine lakes, rising mountain peaks and lots of sheep. Our new home, Twizel, is very very rural with only roughly 1500 people. Our home is located roughly 10 kilometers outside of the town on 4 acres. Our backyard is literally the front range of the Southern Alps minus one very small cheese making shop over the hill. This will be a change from Boise, however the hiking (aka tramping), mountain biking trails, and local lakes are numerous. We can’t wait to start exploring.