Helm's Deep is now at the Auckland airport
So, one of the girls in our group was fined $400 for trying to bring a banana into the country. This is a true thing that happened. She forgot it was in the bottom of her backpack, did not declare it, and when it was discovered via x-ray she had to pay the fine or go to jail. 400 bucks.

I had a banana with me. I declared it, it was confiscated, and I was chastised for not tossing it in one of the many trashbins on my way to customs. But at least I made it in without having to pay a fine or go to jail.

They are California-serious about fruit flies here.

Otherwise, the transfer from airport to hotel was relatively uneventful. I am beginning to realize how spoiled I was regarding organization on the Canary Island trip–today we have wasted a lot of time just discussing silly logistics that could have been pre-established. I appreciate the desire to let us “choose our own adventure”–but “what is for breakfast” is not adventure. You know? We shouldn’t need to talk for 15 minutes about whether we are going to go without/spend $30 on a buffet/stop at a grocery EVERY DAY. Maybe I am an old Archie Bunker.

Complete photo set (days 1-3) here


I saw a few lovely birds today: many pukekos, otherwise known as purple swamphens (there’s a picture of one of them in the set above), a few collared kingfishers, Australasian magpies, and a really beautiful little European goldfinch. Stan, our local guide, has promised me Tuis as well. Although he says it is highly unlikely that I will get to see a Kea or Kakapo in the wild.

There is a local flax that can be seen growing in small “reclamation plots” all over–including between grape plantings at a nearby winery. I plan on making as thorough of a survey of New Zealand wines as I can.

The odds of my rooming with an undergrad every night of the trip are high. I have already had some long & deep conversations about why boys are so dumb. I imagine that will continue. It is hard being young and vibrant, you guys.

The weather was warm and sunny enough to burn us all a little bit today. I am stoked for the heat to continue. Tomorrow we head to Waipoua Forest Lodge where we will spend the next three nights.