Goodbye Asia, Hello Oceania!

view from Waiheke ferrySpotless streets, glamorous storefronts, painted crosswalks, fish and chip shops, and the familiar sounds of the English language…where are we? Where are the grannies running noodle carts, monks walking barefoot, motorbike traffic jams, and the sing-song hum of Thai and Khmer? We are in Auckland, a city so lovely and familiar to home, but so far from the Asian world we’d come from. After seven months of straight travel through Myanmar, Nepal, China, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam (plus the three months prior in Africa), we were in a state of culture shock…but fortunately, it didn’t last long. The ease in which things operate and the beauty that surrounded us in New Zealand let us know things were going to be more than okay and that a new adventure awaits…


airport agriculture checkThe Western shock first zapped us at New Zealand Immigration. We sort of forgot that developed countries care about crossing borders with “foreign” fruits, dairy, nuts and meat. The agriculture officer opened our bag full of Myanmar groceries and they nearly had conniption! Apparently, they had pity on us aliens because we heard they fined actress Hillary Swank $150 for not disclosing an apple!


Auckland colonial buildingsFollowing road signs in both English and Maori, the airport bus dropped us off at Queen Street, the heart of Auckland and British Colonial New Zealand. Pristine 19th century buildings and modern shops lined the streets leading to the downtown ferry terminal. It all looked so glamorous!


Kathmandu store aucklandBeing a cosmopolitan city in a country chock-full of glaciers, volcanoes, and fjords, Auckland has amazing shopping for outdoor gear–and man did we need to restock! Simply wearing the same bag of clothes for ten months is bad enough…but bike, hike, safari, and rock climb in them and they’ll most likely need replacement—if not incineration. We went into Kathmandu outfitters and it was like walking into a candy store. We bought a fleece, raincoat, beanie, gloves, water bottles, and new pride.


Maori home exhibitLooking quite spiffy in our new duds, we went to the Auckland Museum to help us get our bearings. Turns out there are 48 volcanoes in the Auckland area and the museum is built on one of the craters! The museum also has the largest Maori collection of art and artifacts and browsing its galleries gave amazing perspective on the spread of Polynesian culture–reaching a distance of 16 million square miles of ocean (by canoe!) with people settling on every habitable island in the Pacific from Taiwan to Hawaii. Amazing.


Auckland museum moa birdNew Zealand has only been inhabited for 700 years since the arrival of the Maori (and less than 300 years by Westerners). For 80 million years prior, bird species native to New Zealand evolved in isolation from predatory mammals so they didn’t even need to fly and could just grow larger and larger. Looking at this nine-foot tall Moa bird blew our mind—especially to think they ran New Zealand around the same time as the medieval knights of Europe.


Wine Science LabNew Zealand is world renowned for its wines and that very fact brought our dear family friends the Kerners here in the 1990s to start their own vineyard, Kerner Estate. Their son Will is continuing the family tradition and getting his degree in Wine Science at the University of Auckland. It was great to see him and extra fun to play in a Wine Laboratory!


Waiheke island farmsWillie lives 11 miles from Auckland on Waiheke Island, packed with vineyards and wineries, surrounded by beaches and picturesque hiking trails. We took the 35-minute ferry over to see his new home and get the insider tour of “wine island.”


Matiatia Historic Reserve TrailFrom the ferry terminal it was a quick walk to the trailhead of Matiatia Historic Reserve Trail—a 45-minute and very scenic walk, ending in the main neighborhood of Oneroa. What an introduction to the island’s vineyards, beaches, and panoramic views!


best tasting room on Waiheke islandWe met Will for “pie” (not apple pie, not pizza pie, …but a hearty New Zealand meat pie!), then we went wine tasting. We started at the gorgeous Te Whau tasting room with its award-wining wines and ocean views, then off to Stoneyridge where Will’s buddy took great care of us with extra pours of their organic Malbecs and Chardonnays.


wine glass art photographyAfter seeing old friends, drinking wine, and getting a taste of New Zealand’s beauty…we were excited to be on Kiwi time.


Auckland and Waiheke travel photos

30 thoughts on “Goodbye Asia, Hello Oceania!

  • November 13, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    Glad you enjoyed my “home” country. It’s a beautiful place!

    • November 13, 2014 at 10:11 pm

      Your home country is absolutely incredible…the next two months will be an homage to New Zealand, stay tuned!

  • November 14, 2014 at 1:08 am


    • November 14, 2014 at 12:47 pm

      : ) back at you World Journeys! It was such a transition getting to NZ but oh my goodness is it an incredible place!

  • November 14, 2014 at 4:53 am

    Cool article. Had a similar scare at the boarder bc we had some food with us too but all went well. I heart NZ.

    • November 14, 2014 at 12:45 pm

      Oh my goodness, did they check the bottom of your shoes for contaminants as well? They are hard-core when it comes to preserving their environment–as they should be in such a amazingly gorgeous place! So gald you like the article, we heart NZ too!

  • November 14, 2014 at 11:12 am

    New Zealand is my favourite country in the world! Enjoy.

  • November 14, 2014 at 11:43 am

    Hi Guys, I am heading to NZ next Friday for a family reunion of sorts. But will be in the south for a week beforehand. If our paths cross we should meet up if you like.

    • November 14, 2014 at 12:42 pm

      Too funny, my mom is going to New Zealand next week! We won’t be there sadly but if you run into a strawberry blonde from LA that’s Robin! Have so much fun and hopefully our paths cross some day, Tim!

      • November 14, 2014 at 12:45 pm

        All the best to where ever you are heading next.

        • November 14, 2014 at 3:43 pm

          Thanks, Tim! We are actually starting a road trip down the Pacific Coast to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico tomorrow! San Blas, Sayulita, Yelapa…are all supposed to be gorgeous beach and jungle towns, plus the food…I’m already dreaming of tacos!! We’ll be posting on Facebook and Instagram if want to check it out! Enjoy New Zealand, you’ll have a blast!

  • November 14, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Wow, looks like you guys are having an amazing time. New Zealand looks like such a beautiful and interesting country! Safe travels onwards!

    • November 14, 2014 at 3:38 pm

      New Zealand is epic–you won’t even believe how densely and diversely beautiful this country is! More blogs full of adventure and beautiful photos coming soon! Thanks for the encouragement, Renate! Onward and upward!

  • November 14, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Wow, we hadn’t even thought about visiting this area when we head out to NZ in Jan but after reading this I think I might need to rearrange a few things. We are looking to explore both the north and south islands so if you have any more suggestions I would love to hear them.

    • November 14, 2014 at 3:35 pm

      Waiheke Island was fantastic! Definitely go for a day of hiking and wine tasting. We are dedicating the next couple months of HoneyTrek to our road trip through the north and south island of New Zealand so plenty more tips are coming your way! Sign up for newsletter so you don’t miss them: did a month-long road We look forward to having you along for the ride!

  • November 14, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    I really want to get to New Zealand!! Your pics make me get the real “feel” for the place. Thanks for the info… I’ll make sure not to bring any apples (which I’ve done once and got caught with!).

  • November 14, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    Looks like a fun trip. I can imagine you had quite the culture shock considering your previous itinerary. I had no idea New Zealand only had been inhabited for 700 years. Enjoy your time there!

    • November 15, 2014 at 2:56 am

      Such a fun trip and even the re-acclaimation period was such an interesting time of reflection on the west and all we take for granted. Glad we could share some fun facts with you…did you know that NZ is also the youngest country in the world?

  • November 15, 2014 at 6:12 am

    I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a museum that sits on a volcano before…a new one for the bucket list!

  • November 24, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    Our Customs are pretty strict about all things biosecurity!

    If you need any tips at all on NZ, shout out!

    • November 30, 2014 at 1:14 pm

      Thanks so much, NZmuse! With a country that beautiful, we definitely understand why they are so careful about these things.

  • November 30, 2014 at 11:43 am

    I can’t tell you how excited I am about visiting New Zealand and Auckland next year.

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