When I got to the check-in counter, the ticket agent was confused as to why I only had a one way ticket to New Zealand. After I advised her that I was going to apply for a work visa but be coming back, she told me that I needed either a one-way ticket back to the US or a return back to Australia but that I cannot have a one way ticket anywhere else (without the proper visa and funds to show for it). Funny as it is, I have to leave the country as per the government but also per the government can't book a one-way? So I had to book a return flight at the ticket counter which cost me more than my intended amount I wanted to pay. Oh well, gotta do what you gotta do.
I arrived in Auckland at 11pm to a good friend of mine Kim picking me up. I had met Kim about a year ago when Thomas and Max had traveled New Zealand and then she came back to the Gold Coast to visit them. Luckily I was fortunate to be able to stay with her and her mom at their residence which was a short train ride to the city center.
I spent the rest of the first night applying for my work visa for Australia and letting everyone know I had arrived safely. Headed to bed around 2am with it being variably cold (as compared to Australia). It was a bit difficult to sleep as I laid there until about 5am before waking at 11-ish.
Kim's mom was already out and about when I woke up, so we went for a drive so she could show me around a bit before heading to Auckland. We drove along Tamaki Drive before heading to the train station in Orakei to catch a 5 minute ride to the city. One thing I have noticed that is different from New Zealand and Australia is the vegetation. Plenty of bush and trees around and it looks like one big park (instead of concrete buildings and resorts everywhere). The language though, I haven't noticed much of a difference. Kim assured me there is a huge difference, but maybe I just hadn't caught on to it yet.
Afterwards, just more walking and taking pictures before we headed back to her place around 4-ish so that she could cook and get ready for a dinner with friends. We ended needing to go to the supermarket to get pavlova and her friend Erin tagged along. The dinner was great with a few of her friends coming over and introducing me to the iPhone app 'Draw Somethng'. Afterwards, we sat, relaxed and chatted before they all headed out and we all passed out.
Again it was a long and restless night for me, but surprising enough, I was approved for my work visa. Funny that immigration said it would take 3 days to 3 weeks to get it approved but I was approved in less than a day. Probably say that to keep people from calling and harassing them immediately after applying. So because of this speedy turn around, I called Virgin Air in the morning to switch my flight and they were happy to do it because of me being on a higher priced ticket. Instead of flying out on Wednesday, I was set to fly out Saturday afternoon to be to work Saturday night.
The flight back was absolutely amazing. The staff greeted me by name, I was able to skip the regular line for the priority line, board with priority boarding and even received an entertainment device and in-flight meal! Granted this ticket was $100 but I didn't feel like some shit customer that every other airline treats their customers.
Overall it was a good but relatively short trip and I have plans on going back as I want to see the volcanoes, lava caves as well as visit Queenstown and Christchurch. Auckland is def. something you can see in a day and encourage anyone who goes to leave the city and go check out the rest of the island. It's quite funny that I left New Zealand early to come home and work, but hey, gotta go where the money takes you right?
Until then, ciao!