".......that's meant to be New Zealand?"
Our daughter's first impression of The Land of the Long White Cloud is understandably disappointing. We'd been gushing to her about it being heaven on earth and then all she sees as we get off the plane is glass and concrete.
Compared to somewhere like Gatwick or Heathrow, Auckland Airport is paradise, of course. Although as we touch down it's cloudy and drizzly, which we didn't expect either.
And so here we are now, Day Three, some 60 km North of the capital in a very cosy flat at Sandspit, a headland jutting out between the sea and the Matakana River.
Since we need to stock up on fresh food, the very first thing we do is visit Farmers' Market in Matakana. We go along expecting to find something similar to market day in Bavaria ~ a bunch of farmhands sitting around on a few bags of potatoes and carrots. Farmers' markets Down Under, however, are totally different. They're all about meeting friends, making new ones, and enjoying great local grown food, all washed down with great locally roasted coffee. We are happiest though just sitting imbetween the fruit and veg stalls sucking some of the most succulent, juicy mandarins you could ever wish for, enjoying live music from a Passenger/Cat Stevens sing-a-like.
One other first impression - the friendliness of the New Zealanders.
We've had quite a few people, total strangers, approach us here and
say "Hey, how's it going?". Can't imagine that happening in Europe too often...
Best of all though: our experience in Auckland, just after picking up the automatic-drive hire car, which we're not too sure how to drive, plus we're not too sure where we're going either. Seeing us looking lost, the driver in the car alongside winds his window down and says "Hey, where ya going?" Next thing he's signalling us to follow him. When it comes for him to turn off in a different direction, he waves us down to stop, gets out and comes back over to double-check we've understood everything. As we drive off he waves, shouting "Good on ya!"