Join our Japanese-language correspondent P.K. Sanjun on his whirlwind time-warping tour of Auckland, which still got him back in time for work on Monday.

P.K. Sanjun was in need of a little refresher. With all of the asinine innovative tasks that he’s regularly entrusted with at work in the name of journalism, from eating 1,300-times-spicier-than-usual curry to strutting his stuff in a mankini on the streets of Tokyo, he decided that he wasn’t particularly inclined to stay anywhere in the vicinity of the office over the weekend. A trip overseas was definitely the best solution to get as far away as possible. This time, however, he did not see himself sampling bat soup in Palau or eating alien sushi in Mexico. Instead, after almost no deliberation, he settled on a “bullet trip” to the largest island nation in Polynesia thanks to a good deal from Air New Zealand.

After this spontaneous decision, he did a quick mental add-up of everything he knew about New Zealand, which consisted of the All Blacks national rugby union team, the haka dance/chant/challenge performed by the indigenous Maori people, and the flightless kiwi bird. In other words…not much at all. But hey, isn’t that why expanding your horizons through travel is so important?

▼ Auckland, New Zealand: Sanjun’s weekend travel destination

Sanjun’s flight departed from Narita Airport at 6 p.m. on Friday and arrived in New Zealand’s most populous city, Auckland, around 8 a.m. on Saturday local time (New Zealand is three hours ahead of Japan). The flight lasted about 10.5 hours, and since his return flight was scheduled for 8:55 am on Sunday, his time in the country was limited to 24 hours. But no matter–that was all a part of the extremity (does the whole 1-night, 3-day thing make more sense now, too?). He also didn’t have to take any vacation time off work, which was a nice bonus.

▼ He mused that Air New Zealand’s premium economy class, one step above regular economy, would have been even comfier.

Before we go any further, at this point Sanjun feels that he has a confession to make. The main reason why he was so unconcerned about having limited time was because he embarked on this trip without making any plans or doing any research in advance, apart from booking one night at a hotel in Auckland. While such spontaneity might stress some people out more than anything, the freedom to do anything on his own time was exactly what Sanjun was seeking for this weekend refresher.

“I’m in New Zealand on a ‘bullet trip.'”

In fact, his planning was so non-existent that he hadn’t even looked up how to get from the airport to the city. Everything worked out after mustering his courage to speak in broken English with the staff at the information desk, who were then able to call his hotel and determine that he could take a bus to get there.

He estimated that the ride from the airport to Auckland proper took about 40 minutes. Along the way he enjoyed views of the water and a different infrastructure style from Japan, and a glimpse of the city’s Sky Tower sightseeing destination signaled their approach into downtown. He thought it a bit strange that he didn’t spy many businessmen out and about–probably because it was Saturday–but he also observed that the streets didn’t seem to be teeming with tourists, either. His impression of Auckland so far was that it wasn’t quite a city city but it certainly wasn’t a village.

Sanjun still had some time before his hotel check-in, so he decided to wander around on his own by one of the harbors. Truth be told, as a diehard Pokémon Go fan, he was particularly excited on this impromptu trip to finally be able to find the rock/water-type Pokémon Relicanth, which is limited to Polynesia. Sure enough, he wasn’t disappointed:

“I came all the way to New Zealand just to get this guy.”

Next, let’s shift focus to everybody’s favorite topics–food and drink. What would his trip down south be without getting a flat white? Sanjun had tried the espresso-based coffee drink on a previous trip to Australia and had absolutely fallen in love with it. Thankfully, it was equally as popular in New Zealand, so he was easily able to buy one as he headed back into the city. Actually, there are claims that the flat white was invented in New Zealand…but let’s not get into that now.

▼ “You’ve gotta have a flat white when in Oceania. I honestly have no idea what makes it different from a latte.” 

After taking a break from his Pokémon Go adventures in a stylish cafe, he continued strolling throughout the city. For lunch he sampled some of Auckland’s famous raw oysters, and (fast-forward) for dinner he savored some can’t-be-missed New Zealand lamb, both of which were out of this world. He was so pleased with these two gastronomic delights that he felt the trip was definitely worth it for the food alone.

“I’m eating a ton of oysters by myself right now. They’re famous in Auckland.” 

▼ “The ‘big-sized lamb’ was different from what I was expecting, but even still, it was so good.”

In the end, he didn’t end up doing anything that resembled formal sightseeing, but at night he visited a pub where he could experience the locals’ zeal for the All Blacks through a televised match. He also strolled along the harbor again where the passerby’s relaxed expressions particularly stood out in his mind. It had only been one day, but he could safely say that he liked Auckland very much.

“Even though sunset in Auckland is late it becomes dark early. There aren’t many hours of daylight.”

“It’s about time to go drinking.”

He slept like a log on his flight home, arriving at Narita around 5 p.m. on Sunday. While impending thoughts of work the next day began to cloud his thoughts, it turned out that the following day he felt about 15 times more productive than usual as a result of his refreshing weekend “bullet trip.”

“I was only there for a 24-hour stay. I didn’t do any prep work but it was more than enough. Now it’s time to go back to Japan.”

All in all, even if it looks far away on a map, an “Extreme New Zealand Trip” from Japan isn’t as impossible as it sounds. Sanjun certainly recommends anyone who wants to beat the grind of week after monotonous week to take the plunge! Plus, it will make you all the more productive when you return to eating 2.3 kilograms/5.1 pounds of Napolitan spaghetti.

Related: Air New Zealand
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