Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Day 1: Auckland & Coromandel Peninsula

Sept 19th - 21st

We left on a Friday night out of SFO. The airline we flew on, Air New Zealand, has planned the flights just right. Leaving about 9pm and arriving about 5:30am (Sunday morning). So, even though you get in a little bit early, you can still pretty much sleep on the plane ride over and adjust to the time difference no problem.

That is, unless, you have a 9.5 month old baby with you.

Our flight out was okay. Logan fell asleep upon take off, which was wonderful. And, we thought ok cool, he's going to be out for about 8-10 hrs now, just like he always sleeps at home! HA. Unfortunately, he only slept about 3.5 hrs (long enough for me to watch a movie and not yet catch some zzzz's - silly me - never will I make that mistake again). Then, he was a little TERROR for about 3 hrs as we tried to get him back to sleep. Mostly, we think he was just too distracted and overly tired. But, it would be one thing if he was cranky in a quiet way. Being the baby that he is, however, he YELLED the entire (pretty much) three hours that we tried to get him back to sleep.

We tried everything.

We fed him, played with him, let him crawl or stand at the edge of our seats, walked up and down the aisles, covered his head/face with a blanket and rocked him in the Ergo Carrier. Jon even made a little "tent" and I laid down with him on the ground at our feet trying to calm him down enough to fall back to sleep. I honestly don't know how we finally got him back to sleep. He was probably just too exhausted to stay awake anymore. :) That was, however, the only bad part of the flight. He was a champ the rest of the time on the plane.

The bassinet we had was nice, but on the smaller side (capacity was 10 kg, or 22 lbs, so Logan was getting close to the upper limits). Logan moves a lot in his sleep - so I think part of the problem was it's a confined space for someone who tosses and turns all night. Add to that, all the bright blinky lights, bells, sounds, people walking by, and a kid like Logan just wants to sit up and see what's going on. :)

He was also an eating machine that flight!! He drank about 45oz in just 12 short hours! That is an all time record for him I'm sure (he drinks about 28-30oz in a day, on average).

Once he was back asleep for the 2nd time, the two of us tried sleeping ourselves but had a really hard time since we'd jump at any little noise or rustle he'd make. Or, we were just too danged uncomfortable. I think we slept about 3 hrs total that flight (in about 20-30 min stretches). My back had definitely seen better days.

Other than that, the flight was nice and uneventful. We got great service, fair food, and somewhere around 83 movie choices to watch on the plane (!!!!). I chose Sex In The City (since I figured I'd watch something that Jon would not want to see). It was ok, but in hindsight, I should have used that 2 hrs to try and sleep instead! ;-)

We landed early and waited in the baggage claim area for Eric and Jill to arrive (our friends who live in San Diego and joined us on this vacation). Logan and I kept busy watching the beagle "drug dog" sniff everyone's luggage (and make frequent stops to ours, because of our own dogs' scent on everything, I'm sure).

I should have known better, but we rented a "large" car, which in International terms means, something smaller than the car I drive to work every day. So, wouldn't you know it, our car was WAY too small. We could fit about 2 suitcases in the trunk. ;-) So, the guys went back to get a larger car and after everything was loaded up, we still just BARELY fit it all in! (80% was our stuff, and about 60% of that was Logan's).

Jon took over driving, since he's driven on the other side of the road before (our honeymoon was in Ireland and Scotland). Still, it takes some getting used to - even as a passenger! But what was most funny to all of us, was Jon's habit (which continued for days, mind you) of hitting the windshield wipers when he wanted to signal a turn. I suppose that's ONE way to easily spot a tourist in New Zealand.

We ate a delicious breakfast somewhere on the wharf in downtown Auckland, and we all noted how perfectly sized the portions of food were. It was satisfying and not too filling. Just right.

We walked around a little bit, but didn't do any of the touristy things like go up the Sky Tower or visit the "Ice" bar - we were just too tired and not really interested. And, we knew we had a long drive ahead of us still.

Our drive to Coromandel Peninsula was long and tiring, but mostly just really twisty (near the end of the drive) which wasn't very fun. Especially after a 12 hr flight, no sleep, and a screaming kid in the backseat that you're trying to calm down, distract, entertain while at the same time reading the tour books and maps about where we were headed. This was Jill's and my job (and was to be for the rest of the trip) in the backseat. Yikes! What did we get ourselves into?

We got to The Church cottages that afternoon and I was so relieved and happy to see how beautiful their gardens and how quaint the cottages were! It was a perfect place for our first couple of nights to re-energize and start off this vacation right.

No one was in the office to check us in (just a sign at the door telling us which units were ours) so instead we took off and drove around the town (Hahei) to find something to eat. Well, Hahei is a *super* small town, and only one little cafe was still open but with a really small selection. Bummer. We gobbled down a few paninis, then stopped at the general store around the corner for a few snacks, candy (Jon/Jill) and milk (Logan).

Back at the cottages, I checked in at the front desk and found out it was the perfect time to visit Hot Water Beach (low tide starting in about 20 min.). No time to rest just yet! We took off for the nearby beach with shovels in hand. This beach is known for geothermal hot water that bubbles up to the surface -- people come and dig holes so that the hot water fills up the space and then they recline and soak in the waters....

So, Jon and Eric set out to dig a "tub" for us all to enjoy. What was entertaining, was watching how two network engineers approached this task, literally scoping out the best way to design the tub, so that they could efficiently route hot water in (via a hot water "channel") and cold water out (via the cold water "channel", of course). Because they had these channels built in, they could then balance the amount of hot, or cold, water needed at any one time. :) They did a great job and we all loved it.

Not only was it exciting as our first day was coming to a close, but it was exciting to see Logan enjoying his first time at the beach! He loved playing with the sand between his toes and fingers and seemed to like hanging out with us in the "tub" quite a bit (mind you, the water was HOT! in some spots, reaching up to 168 degrees apparently! So, he/I stayed in the cooler parts so he wouldn't get burned).

We went to the ONE and only open restaurant in town for dinner, but Logan finally had enough. I took him outside for a bit and he quickly fell asleep on me, but, because I couldn't exactly eat dinner and cradle him at the same time, we decided to get the food to-go to take back to the cottages instead. Jon took me/Logan home first so that I could put him to bed and Eric/Jill stayed at the restaurant waiting for our food to be made. After I laid Logan down in his crib, I laid down in bed myself, waiting for everyone to bring back dinner. And, it suddenly hit me that this was the first time I had laid down in over 24 hours. No wonder my back was killing me.

By about 9:30pm, everyone had finally crashed for the night.


Kim said...

The Church cottages look really cool. Where do you find these places? Wherever our next vacation ends up being I'm having you do the research!

Jennifer said...

I was going to say the same thing! Bree, we are going to have to talk about Hawaii! ;)

Mama Bree said...

I actually had a NZ travel agent help me find the type of accommodations we were looking for!

I'll only help plan your vacations if I get to come with ;-)