Friday morning we boarded a small plane for our flight from Nadi, Fiji to Auckland, New Zealand. As part of the plane ticket that we purchased to Fiji, it included a layover in either New Zealand or Australia. We choose New Zealand because it was a shorter flight (4 hours) and we didn't need a visa to get into the country.
After arriving in Auckland we found our rental car shuttle and went to pick up our new set of wheels. We had pre-planned our time in New Zealand and knew we were in for a lot of driving but decided that with such limited time in this beautiful country we wanted to see as much as possible. We were crazy!!!! The black line represents what we drove on Thursday (round trip in one day) and the red line is what we drove on Friday.
We rented from Explore More Cars for about $35 NZ/day. Unfortunately, as we learned quickly in New Zealand the exchange rate is almost 1:1 but everything is like twice as expensive than in America. Gas was really spendy as was food and lodging. No Worries, though...right? So Birch hops in the itty-bitty rental car and we hit the road -- SCARY!!! While in Fiji I spent much of my time holding tight to my seat belt but OH MY...in New Zealand I was near panic attack the whole time while in the car. Just isn't right driving on the wrong side of the road on the wrong side of the car.
Our big destination for the day was the LDS temple in Hamilton, New Zealand. It was about an hour and half drive from Auckland. The temple was pristine and gorgeous!
We were able to do initiatories and then enjoy a quick kiss on the front lawn.
We thought it was super cool that we were at the temple exactly 54 years after it was dedicated.
Families Are Forever
After leaving the temple we drove by the now empty LDS Church College of New Zealand (guess they closed the school down at the end of 2009). A missionary couple recommended a super cheap and tasty spot to pick up fish n' chips for dinner -- Annie's. We stopped and ordered huge fish for $1, a large basket of fries for $2, and had Hokie-Pocky Ice Cream while we were waiting for the fish n' chips to cook. It was DELICIOUS!!! We then jumped in the car and started driving toward Raglan to see their black sand beach. The missionary couple described it's location as hard to miss and "you'll run right into it." We never made it.
After driving around lost for about 45 minutes we pulled onto this gravel farm driveway to turn around. One of the scary things about being a passenger in the car while in New Zealand was Birch's depth perception -- like how close we were to the cliff, fence, or roadside guardrail. I was gripping my seat and seat belt for life. So...in backing out of the driveway the car somehow ran into a fence post. Arg...the mirror came off as did the front bumper. Birch was able to "pop" the bumper back in place and we decided that the mirror wasn't much help to us anyway.
By this time we were both grouchy and dropped trying to find the black sand beach. It was a long, dark, and windy trip back to Auckland.
Those cankers that had all disappeared while in Fiji were on their way back in full force. We arrived at the Rydges Hotel in downtown Auckland around 9 pm. Thank goodness for the GPS we had rented. That night I turned on the tv and enjoyed watching "American Idol" and dreaming of driving on the right side of the road.