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  • Writer's pictureTai John

Kia Ora from New Zealand!

Updated: 21 hours ago

Whoo, what a journey it has been! Let me spill the tea on my first full day in New Zealand. I departed from Houston on September 1st at 9:55 at night, took a 15-hour flight, & landed in Auckland, New Zealand on September 3rd at 5:55 AM, what a time difference! This is not my first long flight, as I have flown overseas many times before but as for the flight itself, it wasn't too bad but it also wasn't too good. Initially, my flight was booked by the company that helped me get everything arranged for my trip to New Zealand, but it didn't allow me to pick my seats until the day when I checked in, sure enough, your girl got stuck with nothing but middle seats. That wasn't even troubling for me though, I just decided to roll with it because there was nothing I could do about it.

Fashionista Probs

Want to know what was troubling me? Trying to pack my entire wardrobe into one suitcase. If you know me & my fashionista ways then you know just how much of a struggle this was for me. I had been packing & unpacking my suitcase for weeks! Trying my best to only pack what I needed & be okay with leaving so many of my fave clothing pieces & accessories behind. Every time I had to put something back in the closet, I would tell myself, "less is more" and "it can always be replaced." But it just wasn't enough, after weeks of packing & unpacking my suitcase & trying my best to have my cake & eat it too, once we got to the airport my suitcase was overweight. Get this, Air New Zealand is not like other American airlines where you can just pay for the extra weight (because that was totally my intention). Nah, they said, "You have to take out clothes to get the weight down." So here I am stressed & pressed at the airport & yet again put in between a rock & hard place, trying to decide what more to let go of.

Take Off Time

After all the hustle & bustle was over with my suitcases, fast forward to saying my tear-filled goodbyes to my parents & walking through baggage claim with a tear-soaked, swollen face, looking as sad as can be. I was an emotional mess, all in my feelings. I made it to my gate, eventually stopped crying & snagged myself a pre-flight marg to numb the emotions & relax me for this long middle-seat journey. As my luck would have it, I ended up sitting in the middle only until the flight was about to take off because the person who was supposed to occupy the aisle seat didn't quite catch their flight...yay for me, a win! But the other win was that the lady sitting in the window seat was very nice, I usually get blessed by the people I end up sitting with when I take flights alone, & she was just that. She introduced herself, she was a mom in Houston to support her daughter's New Zealand rock climbing team competition & they were flying back home. Having worked in a rock climbing gym & been a wannabe climber for a little while, I tapped right into some sweet conversation. She even left me with her number & told me if I needed anything while I was in New Zealand to give her a buzz.

While she was a blessing, certain parts of the flight, not so much. There was a 10-month-old baby (how do I know her age you ask, I spoke with her parents when we landed) in the middle aisle seats who was having a rough flight. I was trying my best to sleep semi-upright with the addition of on & off screaming in my ears, & the dinner & lunch options being way too gagalicious for me to eat, it was a flight for the books. It honestly did not feel long to me, maybe that's because I miraculously semi-slept through the majority of it, watching movies, & listening to music. As I stated at the beginning I landed in Auckland, New Zealand at 5:55 AM, made it through baggage claim, customs, cleared immigration, & got picked up by my driver. All was well until I made it to my accommodation. This was my first experience staying in a hostel & man it started on a sour note for me.

Hostel Hassle

So my driver pulled up to the hostel & informed me that I was supposed to have been given a code to open the door because I got there around 6 something in the morning & they didn't open until 9 AM otherwise you could get in with your code. Remember how I informed ya'll that there was a company I was working with that arranged my trip to New Zealand, well they also arranged my initial accommodation for the 4 days I would be staying in Auckland...yea guess what my travel concierge didn't give me? Yup, the code. Here I am with my big suitcase, baby suitcase, & backpack looking cute & confused with the driver. After standing out in the nippy weather (yes nippy, it was a bit chilly & I needed a jacket which I did not bring) I went into a slight panic calling the number on the window, calling & emailing my travel concierge who just so happened to be out of the office until September 5th according to her automatic email response, someone finally came out the hostel door & that was my way in. The driver helped me bring my bags inside the door & then it was all on me. I am so grateful I decided to just bring one main suitcase & a little carry-on for my toiletries because if I had brought the two big suitcases I was initially considering I don't think I would have made it.

I hauled & pulled my bags down a steep, downhill, concrete hallway, four stairs, & grateful to see an elevator to help me get to the 4th floor until it opened & I was greeted by someone's vomit. Guess who still took the vomit elevator because she couldn't haul her luggage up 4 flights? Yup, it's me again! It gets better though, so I make it to the 4th floor & there is another keypad with a code that I still do not have. I rang the bell as the door instructed, but I guess it was too early. I couldn't contain it anymore, it was stressful enough to get into the hostel & get to the fourth floor, but now this?! I cried. Just sat on a little bench outside the door with my bags & cried, I didn't know what to do other than wait. Not too long into my pity party, two girls came out the door, asked me if I was okay, gave me the code for the door, & helped me roll my bags into the hallway. Here I am now, in a commons area near the closed reception desk which states that they open at 9, mind it's 6 something in the morning. A guy on his laptop informs me that check-in isn't until 2:00 PM & to come back around 1:30 PM.

Breaking Down or Breaking Through?

At this point, the tears keep flowing & I am feeling frustrated out my ass. The last meal I ate was Thursday, September 1st at home, didn't eat on my 15-hour flight, my sleep was sub-par, & I hadn't showered since September was September 3rd. Imagine how you would feel at this point. Miserable, disgusting, frustrated. Eventually, after much back & forth calling, texting with my parents, the helpline, & emails with my so-called travel concierge, one of the guys that work at the reception desk shows up & states the same thing, check-in is at 2:00 PM. Now, what was I supposed to do at this point? I could sit there & continue throwing myself a pity party or make some shit happen. I chose to make some shit happen! I did as advised by the receptionist, put my suitcases in their storage room, went to the bathroom, refreshed myself a bit, & took a stroll in search of food. Most of the food I craved was not available yet as it was still early in the morning so I found a cute two-story Starbucks & had myself some coffee & a nice sit-down. Sipped & people watched for about an hour, continued walking & exploring & made it back to the hostel by 1:30.

So I found the calm in the storm by choosing to make the best of what was out of my control. But the storm continued to rage on! I did not get checked into the hostel until 3:00 PM! I kid you not. It's like they don't work on the weekends here or something, it was the strangest thing. I & six other people sat in the common area just fading away as time continued to tick on & no one showed up at the desk until 3:00 PM. When I told you I was so close to booking one of the nearest hotels & saying f this, I was on the app & everything until the receptionist finally showed up. My prayer for peace & patience lasted right up until he came to the desk. So I finally get checked in, get my bed, & get to shower, change, & unwind. I missed both of the inclusions that were booked for me at 2:00 & 3:00 PM but the way check-in was set up, it was out of my control, I wasn't even mad about it, I was just happy to feel refreshed & be able to get something to eat after such a long day.

(My bed is the top bunk on the right)

(Women's shared bathroom space)

Lessons & Blessings

Wrapping up my first full day in New Zealand was better than it started, I went out, & got myself a little personal pizza & when I returned to the kitchen to indulge, I met a girl who was on a working holiday trip as well. Turns out we are both flying out from Auckland to Christchurch, New Zealand on the 7th & staying in the same hostel. I guess the handheld mirror I broke in the bathroom earlier really was a form of luck, as this German girl told me when she was helping me pick up the pieces. I always thought it was bad luck when you broke a mirror, but we shall see if things continue to get better. Reflecting on my day, it was a test to see how I would handle certain situations & how to grow through them. Nothing good comes easy & not very many things about today have been easy for me per se but I am here, 20 minutes till 9, sharing with you, so I would say it wasn't too bad at all. My experiences today gave me something to reflect on & write about. All in all, I am grateful for the rough patches, the lessons, & blessings I received today. Stay thirsty as I continue to spill the tea on my journey through New Zealand!

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