Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Zealand - Auckland

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The morning after the Maori hangi, we drove from Rotorua to Auckland.  Along the way, we did a "comfort stop" (aka anyone need to use the bathroom?) at a tourist info center.  Can I tell you this country takes its sheep seriously?  I thought these were funny so I had to take a picture.  Yes, that's a real building.

Upon arriving in Auckland, it was still too early to check into our hotel so our bus driver took us around for a city tour, including a stop at Mission Bay which was a beach.  Unfortunately our good weather mojo was washed away in the mist and rain so it was hard to take pictures or see many of the sights.  All I can tell you is New Zealand has approximately 4.4M people and 25% of them live in Auckland so it's pretty much like most cities except for  the 48 (dormant and hopefully to remain that way) volcanoes.

It was our last night of the tour and we gathered for dinner at the Bluestone Room and had the room to ourselves.  We'd all been together for 3 weeks and it was sadly time to say goodbye as half the group was going on to Fiji and the other half was going home.  One of the couples, Chuck and Marilyn, who I found hysterically funny for much of the tour, got the wonderful idea of giving Erica a "team shirt" embroidered with the team name Erica had given us on the bus ride to Auckland: Whaka Manuka.  Manuka is a type of honey in New Zealand, prized for its medicinal purposes.  The "wh" in Maori is pronounced as "ph" so you sound it out :).

Erica, our endlessly patient and wonderful tour guide

There's not much else I can tell you about Auckland as we were literally there less than 24 hours.  Thursday morning brought the bus to take us to the airport.  I got in a bit of walking before the pickup time but I have to admit I was ready to go home by then so I was happy to get on the bus.  We were all ready before the scheduled pickup time so our bus driver was kind enough to take us to the top of Mt Eden with our extra time and I got my final look at the beautiful city scenes of Auckland.

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