New Zealand: Day 3

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

Stonefield

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.