The flight from Wellington to Auckland was about 2 seconds long. I think it was really 47 minutes but I fell asleep so it was 2 seconds. One of the easiest flights I have been on. I picked up my rental car, which got upgraded to a Camry Hybrid instead of the smaller car I had asked for. This was my first time driving a hybrid. It was an interesting experience. I had no idea that the cars pretty much shut off when you are stopped at a light. I understood the whole  you are breaking and it charges the battery/conserves the gas, but the shut down was a surprise. This means it is hard to pull out into traffic from a turning situation because while you have been waiting there it has shut down. I mean it starts up pretty fast, but you can't zoom into the turn. I found myself being much more cautious. Also this car was much bigger than the Corolla that I had been driving while in the South Island. I didn't realize how much bigger until I nearly ran over a construction cone. The Camry is the same size as my car at home, but I  had unknowingly gotten really used to that smaller sized car, especially with all those crazy zig zag roads in the South.

My plan was to drive straight north sort of around the side of Auckland proper and shoot up the coast to Whangarei. It was supposed to be about a 2-2.5 hour drive. It took me 3.5 and not for the nice reason that drives took so long in the south island. There were a few reasons for the extra hour. One, I came in just before rush hour in Auckland. Two, the directions the guy at the car rental place gave me neglected to mention that one of the highways was going to just randomly end. Three, I had been lulled into a false sense of security that everywhere in New Zealand was easy to get to (pure hubris on my part). Once I made my error I furthered it by looking for the on ramp on the wrong side of the road. Since I am really good with maps I was able to self correct but not before I was hit with the onslaught of rush hour traffic. My little drive around and through Auckland made me not really want to visit as strange as that sounds. Nothing really caught my eye and said this is worth it to come back early from the Northland and see. I am sure there is but I just wasn't moved that day. I hear the peninsula on the other side of the city is really nice.

I arrived in Whangarei around 745 and it was much bigger than I expected. Again my perspective was really skewed by the South Island. I mean I should have known, I had read how much more populated the North Island is, but I guess it just didn't click. After missing the road a few times (the sign was bite size and it was dark) I rolled into my hostel. It was way up a hill and parking the Camry in a mini spot was pretty challenging. By the time I got there the person who runs it had closed up. There was a nice note and key on the door for me. The hostel was almost empty. I think there were four people staying there, two guys of starkly different ages, a woman from New Caledonia (in my room) and me. I eventually realized that the woman who runs the place was still rustling around in the office so I stopped in to say hi. During the course of our conversation she tried to convince me that my plan for the next day was basically crazy town. She obviously said it much nicer than that and recommended some stuff with a little less driving. I later found out (the next night) that even though she has lived there all her life she only knows one way in and out of Auckland and hates the motorway. Had I known that I might not have taken her advice, but I am glad I did.