Day 1 - Travel and Arrival in New Zealand

Arriving at the airport, we were all eager to get through security and on to the plane. We flew from the Minneapolis airport to LAX. We then had around four and a half hours to explore the airport, get some food, and make some laps while waiting for our big flight to Auckland. We boarded our plane to New Zealand and found out there was some paperwork issues with some of the cargo that was being put on the plane. Around one and a half hours later and a whole movie for most of us students, we headed for takeoff. Once up in the air, we watched movies, played games, tried to get caught up on The Lord of the Rings, and slept. The flight from LAX to Auckland was around thirteen hours.

Flight coming into Auckland

Once we arrived in Auckland, we successfully made it through customs and were introduced to our amazing tour guide, Ron. We boarded our coach (charter bus) and made our way into the city of Auckland. Auckland is the largest city in the country of New Zealand with a population of about 1.4 million residents. We were all quite confused with the driving style here since they drive on the opposite side of the road compared to the United States. Since New Zealanders drive on the left side of the road, there were many times that we were quite worried that our bus driver was driving on the wrong side of the road. The roads are smaller compared to the U.S. and with that, the cars seem smaller as well. On some streets the cars are parked on the side of the road and on others, the cars are parked up into the grass. Surprisingly, the grass still looks quite nice. It looks to be that there is little to no compaction of the soil. The coloration of the road markings are also opposite to the U.S. The yellow lines are on the sides of the road and the white lines are in the middle. Since we are in the Southern Hemisphere, we are in their fall season here. We were all shocked to see that there are many green trees with a lot of leaves still on the branches. Along with that, there are many types of flowers that are still blooming.

Vegetation along the interstates

We traveled to a beach to spend some time getting some fresh air after our long flight. Some of us dipped our toes in the water even though it was cold. People walked their children and dogs on the beach calmly. Some of the students went and found a diner to eat at and others ate at the nearby café. We went to a popular super market. We had a couple minutes to find some breakfast foods and snack items. They had a lot of unfamiliar food items. It was interesting to find similar brands to what we are used to in the U.S.

View from the Sky Tower
Skyline of Auckland
New Zeland plane at the Auckland War Memorial Museum
Japanese plane at the Auckland War Memorial Museum
We spent the afternoon at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. We particularly like the World War I & II exhibits and the volcano exhibit. We learned more about the Maori culture and the Pacific explorers. The museum was very interactive. They had phones that you could hear different radio broadcasts and other information on, you could sit through a volcanic eruption earthquake, and they had areas that were replicas to what the people went through (Example: trench warfare.)
Canoe used by the Pacific people

Ground view of the Sky Tower
51 floors high looking down from the Sky Tower
We had some leisure time to shower and relax before we walked forty minutes to the Sky Tower. The long walk showed us some of the different and busy ways that people walk, ride bikes, and drive to their destinations. They had separate bike and walking lanes. We noticed that there is vegetation everywhere. There are trees and bushes along every street. It is a very green city. The Sky Tower is 328 meters tall. We traveled 220 meters above the ground and had a 360-degree view of Auckland. We traveled up 51 floors to see the view. Since it was dark by the time we got up there, we didn’t get to see the 80 kilometers that we would have been able to see, but we did get to see the lights of the city. 

We traveled back down the Sky Tower to the Fortuna buffet. They had a large variety of food on the buffet. They had fish and chips, sheep shank, sushi, ham, homemade pizza, and a couple different types of coleslaw. They sat our whole group next to the desert portion of the buffet. There they had carrot cake, brownies, ice cream, and many different types of cupcakes.  We got a shuttle back to our hotel and sat in the lobby talking and getting to know each other just a little bit more.

The whole group at the beach
Robert Goetz & Meagan Jensen


  1. Sounds like a great first day! Thanks for the update and pictures!

  2. We are so glad that you made if just fine! The pictures and blog are wonderful. Love the group picture! We pray for a wonder-filled time for you all! (HI Hattie!!)


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