Backtrack- I took a shuttle from the airport to Hostel Auckland International, which provided decent accommodations for a night. Ami- the food and beverage manager and my future boss's boss- happened to be in Auckland the same weekend I arrived so I have a ride up to Bayview Chateau Tongariro tomorrow, where I'll be living and working for the next few months.
Ami and I hit it off right away. She and her brother picked me up from the hostel and we hit the mall for the basics: a new cell phone, rain boots to wade through the snow, silly umbrellas to keep our spirits bright in cold weather, etc. We talked and laughed to the point where silly errands started to feel like fun and I knew that my next few months were the right decision.
From there, we went home to change clothes, drop off the car, and grab dinner and a drink. We picked up some local New Zealand wine and headed to Hong Thai-a restaurant that the two of them knew so well that after we walked in, we warned the staff that we probably shouldn't be seated in the small dining room in close quarters with the other guests. Our loud conversations and uninhibited laughter bought us a place in their private garden.
Our drinks and stories flowed easily through the evening until we realized our stomachs couldn't hold another ounce of food or laughter. We bundled into jackets, scarves and gloves and prepared for the road trip ahead of us the next day to Bayview Chateau Tongariro- that is if the roads aren't snowed out!