Monday, October 29, 2007

Actually in New Zealand

Here I am, actually in New Zealand. Pretty fantastic.

The flight was pretty much without a hitch. It's longish, but nothing too bad -- I even slept for a bit midway through. I was even lucky enough to have an empty seat next to me! Certainly made stretching out a bit easier. Customs was a breeze, and I got on board a shuttle to the North Shore lickety split. On the way up, I was treated to a spectacular sunrise over Manukau Harbour. I made good enough time to surprise my pajama'ed host, who was expecting me a bit later than 6:30...

After a breakfast with Paul and a bit of freshening up, we drove around a bit to see the sights. Auckland is an unbelievable city if you like the water; the various bays and inlets that section various bits of it up are constantly present and gorgeous. Fifty or so extinct volcanoes stick up here and there, going on 50km or so to the East. The effect is to take a body of water I normally think of as vast and monolithic (the Pacific Ocean) and section it up into something much more inviting. This place is kayak heaven.

Sightseeing out of the way, we went to the lab to sit down a bit. Massey University's main campus is at Palmerston North, which is only slightly less in the middle of nowhere than Palmerston South (if indeed there is such a place). Recognizing this, they have been expanding a satellite campus at Albany, in Auckland's North Shore. Things seem to be on the up and up, with a focus on growing their strength in biology and evolution. I think my most singular impression so far is of the architecture -- all the labs are little independent buildings, rather than the large, shared spaces I'm used to back in the states. It does give the campus a bit of a sleepy, residential feel. Kind of like if Hopkins were in Marin instead of Monterey, and had fewer people: really quiet little place right next to a largish city.

Jet lag hasn't been so bad, yet. However, it is only 4:30PM, and the prospect of staying awake for another five hours seems a bit daunting. This is shaping up to be a loooong day...

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