Hello New Zealand!
I made it – about 30 hours of travelling later. My flights were pretty pleasant, as far as long haul flights go. I was sat next to the toilet for the first flight which led to some interesting niffs, however I didn’t have anyone annoying sat behind me kicking my chair (woop woop!). Also, the food was surprisingly good; shout out to my mum for ordering the vegan food, I always got my food first and it actually contained some fruit and vegetables. My layover in LAX went super quickly as I had to go through U.S. security. By the time that was over I just had time to grab a bottle of water (rooky error not taking one on the first flight) and some snacks. Please can we take a minute to appreciate how wonderfully jolly service staff are in America, I was called a “guest” in Starbucks, welcomed and asked how my trip was going. In the U.K. I would be grunted at then have my name spelt incorrectly for the millionth time.
The second flight was slightly longer (12hrs20) but I got moved to a different seat at the back of the aircraft where it’s a bit less wide so it was just me and a lovely American lady in our row who was on her way back to her home in Rotorua. I got a window seat on this one so I could have a (rather dingy) view of landing in Aukland at 5am. All in all, Air New Zealand was fab! I was collected by Bev, one of the Heads of Boarding at Southwell School, which I was unbelievably grateful for as I was in no state to negotiate public transport. We took the 1hr30 car journey to Hamilton, my new home. The rose on the journey through the fog, which was just beautiful. When I arrived at the school I was shown my room for the next few days (I will change after that) and ended up sleeping all afternoon! After the mega-nap I met one of the other overseas gappies from South Africa who had been at the school since Christmas called Luke. We went to check out the big super market up the road from the school.
The next day I was asked, on the spot, to leave my room at 8am because they needed to fumigate the building. Originally it was just meant to be upstairs only so I wasn’t going to have to move but it turned out they wanted to do the whole building! I ended up going to stay at one of the Bev’s house for the morning then went and had lunch with all of the staff. I met the head of drama (v exciting!) who was telling me all about their big production coming up of Beauty and the Beast. Hopefully I’ll be able to be involved in that! I then went and had a drive-by tour of the town from the other Head of Boarding, Keith. It was nice to see where everything was. It’s so much smaller than towns/cities in the UK!
After my tour I was invited to have tea with the headmaster’s wife at their house which was super lovely. She had Pukka tea, which, if you know me, is my absolute vice!! Next came homemade pizza at one of the head of boarding’s house – YUM! I then managed to get an early night before waking up at 6am to catch the bus to Aukland for my orientation.
I just about managed to navigate my way to the youth hostel via a rather oddly chosen route by Google Maps, including squeezing down the side of a car park. I soon met the rest of the group who’d come from the airport to head off to the museum for a cultural Maori performance. It included chanting, dance, music and weapon demonstrations, finishing with an impressive Haka. We then drove to Mount Eden and walked up to the edge of the crater. At which point the heavens opened! This was rather irritating as most of us had left our waterproofs in the van. We got thoroughly soaked, but laughed our heads off. When we made our way back to the hostel I managed to find a tumble dryer and put all of my clothes in it before heading into town in my pyjamas to find lunch and set up my new SIM card. We were then allowed to (finally) check into our rooms before catching the ferry over to Half Moon Bay for dinner. There were two veggie options, one of which was a salad. I chose the pasta with Brussel sprouts, broccoli and cheese. This unfortunately tasted what I can only imagine a fart tasting like and was rather nausea-inducing. By this point most of the group were falling asleep at the table by the time the last two members of our group joined us, whose flights had been delayed. We were all very glad to be getting on the ferry back to our hostel where we subsequently passed out.