Day 1-3 Travel Days -Fri, Sat, Sun
Seattle Travel Blog› entry 1 of 12 › view all entries
And so begins my solo journey to the far south. I head to the airport only to find that they have changed my nice window seat to a middle seat where I get to sit scrunched up for the next 2 ½ hours to LA. When I get to LAX, I thank my lucky stars that I had left enough time for my connection since you have to leave the terminal, check in at the ticket counter and go through security again. What happened then could have been a major, worrisome headache.
I arrived at my gate for the trip to Auckland. The gate area was packed with about three plane loads of people all waiting for their flight to leave. I even remarked to the girl standing next to me that it was impossible to hear any announcements the gate agent made.
And so the flight went on without any glitches. I arrived in Auckland at 5:30 am and took a transfer to my 9:30 am ferry to the Great Barrier Island, a 4 ½ hour ride. Arriving embarrassingly early, I walked around the seafood warehouse district where the dock was located, picked up some food then headed back to the office in time for boarding and check in. The boat was old and rusty and the “lounge” was utilitarian. The movies that they proudly promoted were shown basically down in the hold. I was somewhat worried about the weather. After a lovely red sunrise, it clouded up and became overcast. Winds were forecast to increase to 45 knots in the afternoon. Luckily it didn’t happen and we had a basically a smooth ride. I watched for birds. Unfortunately, I couldn’t identify half of the ones I saw. Seabirds are really difficult for me, maybe just from lack of practice.
We got to the island and I picked up my rental car. Here was my first opportunity to practice my left side of the road from the right side of the car driving. I figured it would be better to practice on an island of 800 people rather than downtown Auckland. It went fairly smoothly. Of course, I did wait until everyone else left the parking lot before I gave it a go! I braved the streets of Tryphena. Sadly they weren’t the best place to learn since they are really only narrow enough for one car. You can’t really tell which side you’re driving on! But I only turned on the windshield wipers once to indicate a turn, tried to shift the turn signal lever into first gear a couple times (a flashback to the column shift), and found myself driving on the right after making a turn once! So far so good. I decided to drive the roads to make the most of the daylight, what little there is. I have now seen 27 birds of which 16 are lifebirds. Not bad.
I made it to my little cabin with a view for the next two nights, the Outbarrier Cottage. It’s a nice simple one bedroom cabin with a generator (the island does not have electricity ��" it is all generators, wind or solar) and gas appliances. The owner stopped by just after I changed into something comfy and poured a glass of Angelica on ice. I’m ready for bed and it is only 6 pm. But it is a pitch black already since it is almost winter down here. I am in New Zealand.