That's Maori for "Hello, Land of the Long White Cloud!" Yes, I am in New Zealand! =) I can hardly believe it! So far I totally love it! =) By the time I was off the flight, had collected my bags, declared my chocolate, pretzels, and two boxes of grits (very important to declare all food- if you're carrying grits it's also important to explain the food), and had gone out to meet Gordon, I was roasting! It's been HOT here! =) I love it! =) (I have been here two weeks now, and am working on quite the impressive tan, I must say.) I love summer. =) Sooo... Auckland was lovely, actually. It's NZ's biggest city (1.2 million people- roughly a quarter of the population of NZ), but seems fairly small as big cities go. Gordon had arranged a hotel room right near the city centre, and we spent two days there before heading off to Taupo. We wandered around town and the harbour, where the water is an amazing turquoise colour, much like the water in Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon. Beautiful. We saw a couple of the Team New Zealand boats that they use in the America's Cup race. I took tons of photos because I couldn't really believe how everything said "New Zealand" on it! :o (Two weeks in and I'm getting used to being in NZ a bit, but I haven't slowed down much on the photos!) I got slightly disoriented when came across a cafe called Seattle Espresso... We met up with some friends of Gordon's for dinner and drinks and had a great time! I also had my IEP (visa people) orientation, where they tell you all about NZ and travelling, give you access to free internet, talk about where you should go to get jobs picking apples and kiwis and that kind of thing, and give you free samples of NZ soda and chocolate- gateway chocolate. You know how the crafty drug dealers give the kids samples of stuff for free so they get addicted and then have to come to them for more? I'm thinking that's the kind of scheme these people are running. Perhaps trying to boost the NZ economy or something. Luckily I was not a big fan of L&P (a kiwi soda, though now made by Coca-Cola), but I have developed a serious addiction to Whittaker's Peanut Slabs. Mmmm... Most of them you get are made with milk chocolate (boo), which makes the bittersweet variety in the dark brown wrapper that much better! Things taste better when you have to hunt them down! (Though the hunt is far less challenging now that I have discoved they're sold widely at BP stations...) On the way out of town we drove up to the summit of Mt. Eden, the highest of Auckland's 48 volcanoes, for amazing views of the city. Fantastic. =) I wouldn't mind if we settled in Auckland for my time here- it's not stiflingly huge or overpopulated or anything, but I am a little tired of city life at the moment... That, and it's expensive! (Think $8 US for a teensy travel-size bottle of contact solution! Ouch!) So, there's no telling where we'll be living and working just yet, but I'm greatly looking forward to exploring all of the possibilities!