Sunday, April 27, 2014

a trip to New Zealand (part 3)

Anne is a great cook and Saturday morning our spread included toast with vegemite (another NZ original, also not very delicious) and jam, eggs, bacon, fruit, granola and more. And then we were off. Jenny’s aunt and uncle had joined us as well and the girls went one direction, the boys the other. Anne was a fount of knowledge and we saw way more with her driving us around than we ever could have on our own. First was a stop at Mount Eden, one of many remaining (dormant) volcanic cones sprinkled around the area. More than just a peak, there’s a definite crater—super big and super steep—that is closed off by a small fence and revered as sacred by the Maoris though that doesn’t stop people from rolling and hiking down into it and often not being able to get back out! There are also some spectacular 360 degree views of the city and the harbor.

Next up was a visit to the Auckland War Memorial Museum. We learned a bit more about the Maori culture and history, got a glimpse of New Zealand’s involvement in the two world wars, and witnessed another short dance performance by a Maori group. The grounds also contain a botanical garden which we visited on the way in.

Then we headed to the Sky Tower for city views from a different angle. We watched people walking along the outside rim and bungee jumping off the side. We stayed safely on the inside but did stand over the plexiglass floor that gave us an unimpeded view of the street below, 192 meters down. The Tower complex houses a huge casino, hotels, shopping center and restaurants. Anne works for one of the local news agencies and was invited to the opening of most of them so she took us in for sneak peeks at some of the d├ęcor and told us stories of the events and the famous chefs.

Next was a drive through the up and coming waterfront district which was teeming with families out taking advantage of the free events and the sun. And then we were back across the bridge to another volcanic cone turned park. This one had been used as a defensive gunnery/lookout during WWI and the hill is still riddled with the mazelike tunnels.

We finished our day out with a stop in the neighborhood of Devonport, just adjacent to Narrow Neck. It’s a charming area, streets lined with shops, restaurants and historic buildings. We got some amazing chocolate to take home (mine didn’t make it, I ate the whole thing in the car, it was fabulous!) And then headed back to meet up with the boys, eat some dinner and catch up on everyone’s day.

Sunday morning we had another great breakfast spread, but thanks to daylight savings it was technically an hour later than what our bodies told us. We ate and walked down to the beach to watch a triathlon. Sponsored by Wheatbix, the “Try-athlon” hosts countless schools in the area and encourages children to get involved and active. So here were all these tiny little kids from about 6 years old up through 13 or so heading down into the water to swim, then pedaling bikes down the other length of beach and then running through the neighborhood. It was a sea of madness and chaos and thoroughly entertaining! And what a great way to get kids motivated and moving at a young age. (and let’s face it, families cuz you know that most of those kids weren’t training on their own, they had very supportive parents there with them.)

We weren’t quite as ambitious but we did head back down and take a swim after the worst of the crowds had dispersed. Then we made our way back over to Devonport for some ice cream, shopping, lunch and a ferry ride back and forth across the harbor to Auckland before heading home again to pack up and get to the airport to start our journey back to the US. It was hard to say goodbye to Jenny but I was excited to get home and see family again, including a new little nephew born the week I left Thailand.

I’d love to say I’m all adjusted to life back in the States, that I’ve found my ideal job, and I’m all settled. But I think I’ve got a ways to go before any of that happens. It’s a good thing I’ve got all these great memories to tide me over until I do!


  1. Wow, what a fantastic way to end your visit to NZ! I wish we'd gotten to Mt Eden, esp after seeing your photos of it. I have some very similar if not identical photos from the Sky Tower--it's quite a view!

    1. It really was the perfect end. Our hosts were amazing and it was such a fun way to see the city. I couldn't have planned it any better!