Sleepless to New Zealand
Thursday, 9th January 2020

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I had a second sleepless night at Hotel Gracery so decided I couldn't risk any more tourism. A big shame as I was looking forward to seeing teamLab Borderless, and also this was a rare clear day ideal for going up the Tokyo Skytree. I also missed out on seeing the Giant Ghibli Clock. Sigh.

So instead I checked out then caught a taxi to Shinjuku Station's West Exit, and caught the limousine bus to Narita Airport from there. I sat on the wrong side of the coach, the sun was strong. I was at Narita Airport miles too early to even check in, and drop off my main case. Had some more tempura at First Class Rice which was well presented. Bought some Japanese sweets which made it through New Zealand biosecurity. Converted my remaining yen to NZ dollars.

Boarding for NZ94 at Gate 42 was delayed half an hour already due to lateness of incoming flight, I did manage to doze a little. On the flight we had white blankets which made the plane look like a hospital waiting room. Air New Zealand kindly had the Japanese films sub-titled, I watched Fable and The Confidence Man JP to pass the time. In the toilet I pressed the wrong button to flush and instead had to explain to a stewardess there was no problem! I asked for water and they offered snacks as well very welcome.

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A big reason for going to New Zealand was to see Virginia's sister Vicky who lives in Auckland. Vicky and her husband Bruce looked after me very well, ferrying me to and from the airport as needed. Bruce took me to LynnMall where I got a E-Sim from Spark to use which even gave a temporary New Zealand number! We went to the Arataki Visitor Centre which has great views over the woodland down to the sea. It has a number of trails but some were shut due to Kauri dieback. We also went to Karekare beach (beaches were popular as January is summer holidays down under) where the black sand was too hot for bare feet in places. The following weekend we went with old friends of theirs to Murrays Bay Beach where we had fush and chups. (NZ pronunciation of fish and chips). There was a small pier out into the bay from which kids jumped into the receding water, as time went on the beach was depopulated in favour of dog walkers and wind surfers. Noisy at times thanks to people armed with massive boom boxes. Some of us walked along a cliff path with a good view, I admired some of the expensive houses that could be seen. We saw an eel in a stream at the beach.

I went to Church with them on the Sundays, celebrating communion each time. In the morning they go to Blockhouse Bay Community Church, a well established church. After the morning service they tend to go to the Dundale Cafe and Eatery where I discovered that black coffees are long blacks in New Zealand, and come with a small jug of hot water. Had a lemon citrus muffin which was very nice. In the evening they go to the 126 Church in Point Chevalier which is more experimental and interactive. An interesting range of people attend for the bring and share meal then service.