Auckland, New Zealand February 24, 2015

We are now in New Zealand! After a short flight from Phoenix to Los Angeles, we changed planes and flew to Honolulu. We felt it would be easier on us physically to break the long flight up with an overnight stay in Honolulu to get a good night’s rest at a hotel near the airport. The flight to Honolulu was easy except by the time we got to our hotel it was almost midnight. Since we had gotten up that morning at 5:00 AM, it made for a long day.
Luckily our flight the next day to New Zealand left in the afternoon so we were able to sleep in the next morning.
We flew to both Honolulu and then to New Zealand on Hawaiian Airlines. They really do a nice job and as far as I know they are the only airlines still providing free meals which included complimentary wine.
Nine hours later, after crossing the equator and the International Date Line,
we arrived in Auckland, New Zealand. Right before we landed they announced that after we landed everyone was to remain in their seats with their seatbelts fastened. A Customs official would enter the plane at which time the flight attendants would open up all the overhead bins and spray them. Sure enough they opened up the bins and walked up and down the aisles and sprayed some unknown substance??? After waiting several minutes we were told we could depart the plane.
We made it through customs without any problems. They x-rayed our luggage and when they saw we had hiking boots they made us open the bags and remove the boots so they could inspect them. We had read before going that this might happen so we had already washed and brushed the bottoms of the boots before packing them.
Our hotel provided a shuttle from the airport to the hotel and we had no problem finding a courtesy phone to call for the shuttle to pick us up. It was again almost midnight when we arrived at the hotel.
The next day we picked up our rental car and Bill was able to rent a New Zealand Sim card at a Vodafone store so we could make calls and internet access while we are here if needed.
Bill has done a great job driving on the left side of the road with the steering wheel on the right side. I haven’t tried it yet. The advice the rental car agent gave was "to do exactly opposite of whatever your instincts tell you to do".
Our first stop after leaving Auckland will be the town of Thames for a two night stay.
Our next blog post will have pictures. Some observations so far:
When driving on a multi lane highway, the slow lane is on the left and the fast lane is on the right.
We are still having trouble figuring out what day it is since the USA is a day behind us.
People from New Zealand are called Kiwis.
Chippies are potato chips and chunky chips are French fries.
Grocery carts are called trolleys and elevators are lifts.
If the grocery store has signs warning "Filling in Progress" it means they are stocking the shelves.
New Zealand has a lot of McDonald’s, some KMarts, Subway, Carl Jrs, KFC, and Pizza Hut but NO Walmart or snakes.
New Zealand McDonalds does not have Bill’s sweet tea much to his disappointment.
Restrooms are called Ladies toilets and Mens toilets and you have two options for flushing to save water.
Bathrooms have only hand dryers and no paper towels and restaurants never give you enough napkins.
Soft drinks are ridiculously high. About $29 New Zealand dollars for 24 cans. In the hotel they charge you $4 a can. I am trying hard to kick my Diet Coke addiction.
I love the New Zealand accent!

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