Day 1: Auckland
Auckland, New Zealand's largest city, sits between harbors and is dotted with extinct volcanoes. Before I get too far, let me just warn you, either one of two things is going to happen. One - you are going to be sick of looking at our happy smiling faces and never ever be able to look at us again, or, Two - you are going to fall in love with us and this amazing place.
Cashing in before we leave the airport.
Let the crazy times roll. I have to say Matt did awesome. I would try so hard to be focused just in case Matt forgot he was to turn into the left lane and not the right. Funny thing is, every time he did it right I thought we were going to crash and die. And I wanted to yell out, WRONG LANE! I only did that a couple times and it never helped matters much. Just made Matt very tense - not good. So I learned pretty quick to just hold my breath and pray.
Being that we only had money for the flights (although Matt won his ticket on Air New Zealand's Twitter account of all things), we wanted to do and see as much as we could without going extra broke. Which means our doing was walking and we surely did a ton of seeing.
Our all day walking tour started at the Aotea Square. From what we had read it always has something cool going on. And it did.
The Earth From Above display - tons of beautiful photos taken from all over the world from a birds eye view. You couldn't help but look at each one.
Strolling along the waterfront of Viaduct Harbor with a nice view of the Ferry building.
Found the yummiest food ever at Revive. All tasty, nutritious, vegetarian and the best part - affordable. That hits the spot.
Walking through Albert Park. I think this is where trees began. All huge and looming. I saw a ton that would have made the greatest treehouses. And I wasn't the only one who liked them. Lots of smart parents used them as playgrounds for their kids. So perfect and magical. Wished I had one in my yard.
That lamppost did not have a chance.
Everywhere I turned I saw the hugest bushes in full bloom of the vibrant bird of paradise
The old arts tower at the University of Auckland. Yes, I confess. We are dorks and love walking different campuses. This one was on a hill right next to the heart of the city. Filled to the brim with flowers, walkways that call to you, the most beautiful fountain that has such inviting seating all around it. This was one happy bustling campus.
Our first sign that there are indeed Maori here, somewhere. Auckland is filled with cultural diversity.
Intermission - Stopped at an Esquires Cafe on Parnell Road. I read it was a good place to stop and people watch. It really wasn't. But I had to give my feet a break and also get some internet to check in with the family.
Leaving the streets to follow this beckoning path of light and wonder.
Look where it lead to - the Auckland War Memorial Museum in Auckland Domain. When we got to the top it had incredible views. You could see One Tree Hill, Mount Eden and Rangitoto Island - all volcanoes. The domain itself is also within an old volcano's crater.
Coming down the other side of that grassy hill and into this. A wedding party. They all climbed out just giddy and giggling. With nothing better to do we followed them into the Wintergardens - which is free and open year round.
I snuck a photo of the photographer sneaking one of Matt sneaking one of the wedding party.
One can only stare for so long before it gets a little uncomfortable. Plus I needed to check this place out. Anyone who knows me knows I love flowers! I can just admire them all day. I have a strange desire to want to know all flowers. So I collect wildflower books wherever I go. This place had all kinds of exotic plants. Even carnivorous ones.
These ladies both have one small clean shiny spot - must be a good luck rub.
We walked off the Grafton Bridge and right into the Symonds Street Cemetery. It was filled with very old and many fallen headstones, many looking very neglected. Can't leave a graveyard without reading every tombstone you walk by. Its a blessed curse.
Another break for my poor aching feet. Funny thing is. I got these boots and called them "my walking boots" for this trip. Guess I had never walked 5+ miles in them.
Our last stop on our walking tour was Sky Tower. We walked in, used the loo, and walked right back out again. ;) We were thinking of getting a room in the city but after seeing the whole thing we decided it would be best to hit the road and get a headstart on the rest of the trip. I was excited to see beyond the city but fell asleep as soon as I sat down. That's what happens when you don't sleep for two days and then walk all day. I was later awakened by Matt who wanted to stop for dinner but I could not communicate. It was dark and raining out. Awoke again to the smell of fries next to me. Matt chowed on his burger and I gobbled up his fries each dipped in the best ketchup (tomato sauce) ever. Matt and I both started a love affair with their ketchup. I know how strange it must sound, but you have no idea how good it is. From that day on we ordered everything with ketchup. But as soon as the food was gone so was I. Awoke again. This time because I am being carried. It is dark, but I can feel the sea breeze and hear the waves crashing as I crash into bed.
-- more NZ 2010 --
Day 1: Auckland
Day 2: Orewa to Paihia
Day 3: Paihia to Kaitaia
Day 4: Ninety Mile Beach to Rawene
Day 5: Rawene to Hamilton
Day 6: Hamilton to National Park
Day 7: Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Day 8: Taupo to Rotorua
Day 9: Rotorua
Day 10: Thames to Hahei
Day 11: Coromandel