Our First Week in Auckland
It is hard to believe that we’ve been in New Zealand for exactly three weeks now. It simultaneously feels like its been so long since we left home, but also that we’ve barely scratched the surface of our time here.
The plan was to jump straight into our to-do list on our first full day. Get some cash. Check. Set up a bank account. Not check. We had our first hiccup. In order to set up a bank account, we need proof of address. Somehow this prevents money laundering… or something. In our case that would be a letter from our AirBnB host stating that we are staying with her. We would also need a utility bill of some sort that proves she lives at that address as well. I guess because money launderers aren’t able to fabricate such complex documents?
Okay, not a problem. We set up an appointment with the bank branch for the following Tuesday. Surely we could get that info from our host by then? On to the next task, getting our IRD number. For anyone who might be reading this, an IRD (or Inland Revenue Department) number is essentially the means by which you pay taxes in New Zealand. And as it turns out, you have to have a working New Zealand bank account in order to get your IRD number, so thwarted again.
That means lunch.
We chose a sweet little AirBnB just a stone’s throw from Ponsonby Road for our first week, and having been so quickly dragged off task, (by no fault of our own!) we decided to grab a bite to eat.
Ponsonby Road is rife with delicious smells and cool restos, its hard to choose where to stop. We landed on a Mexican restaurant- aptly named Mexico – with colorful murals and a decorative cage filled with hundreds of dollars of beer and tequila.
Each table had its own collection of homemade hot sauces complete with a sugar skull label. We ordered a mix of tapas and had a couple different carafes of their signature drinks – one sangria and one margarita. Clearly we were still in the Hawaiian vacay headspace. As it turned out, one of our servers was here on a working holiday as well.
In her early twenties, I’d have to guess she was Scottish. She’s been here for about 8 weeks and was just about to move out of the hostel and into an apartment. I was surprised by how excited I was to come across another working holiday adventurer so soon.
Back on Task.
Determined to continue on our quest for getting shit done, we found an internet cafe so we could at least print out our IRD applications. Check. I wanted to go ahead and make copies of our passports, US driver’s licenses and visas while we were there. All necessary for the IRD application. Jason, however assured me we could save the $5 by asking the bank teller to copy them for us. Okay… I guess. At this point we figured we could take in some culture, since we were already all the way downtown.
New Zealand Maritime Museum
Something I’m not proud of is my disinterest in anything that happened before the late Middle Ages. Generally at museums, I whiz past everything until I get to the Renaissance, and even then I’m not fully engaged until the Late Modern Period. For this reason, I was feeling a little disappointed when we first entered the Maritime Museum.
The first room covers the history of the Maori people at sea. I know, I’m a terrible person for not finding this fascinating. There are many full size boat replicas, as well as other artifacts and lots of information about the early history of these sea-faring people. Its impressive, albeit monotonous for those so limited in their thinking… um, me. I suck.
As we passed into the connecting room, dedicated to Captain Cook and other early explorers to New Zealand, I started to perk up. There were ship models, and a room designed to replicate the quarterdeck. There is so much to see in every exhibit in this museum. I wish we had come with more than just two hours before closing.
There are fishing vessels and an exhibit on the whaling industry. It covers WWII and Jason’s favorite, America’s Cup Yachting. They touch on lighthouses and there is an entire collection of outboard motors. My favorite part was the exhibit on Immigration to New Zealand, complete with an 1800’s third class passenger cabin that moves as if you were sailing with them all those years ago.
We had to race through the last of the exhibits, as they were closing. We’ll definitely be going back at some point.
The week that followed.
We tried not to overwhelm ourselves and fit too much in. We worked on our websites and saw the city. Some highlights were Grey Lynn park and eating at Ponsonby Central – this mecca food conglomerate right on Ponsonby Road.
Guns N’ Roses played a concert at an outdoor arena about 10 minutes from our apartment. It was so load and so clearly audible, the neighbor knocked on our door asking us to turn down our music. It was kind of amazing leaning our head out the window and jamming along to Welcome to the Jungle.
With our time at our first AirBnB swiftly coming to an end, we had to decide what to do for the next week and a half. February 7th we had to be out of the apartment, but definitely needed to be in Auckland on the 17th to catch the bus to Splore Festival, a music fest we’re SO EXCITED for. We could have moved to a hostel or another AirBnB in Auckland. However, we opted to get out of the city for a bit and try van living, just to see if we could handle it.
We rented a campervan from Wicked Campers, not self-contained, and headed out to the Coromandel Peninsula for 10 days. More on that to come!