The arrival of our bodies in Auckland went very smoothly; our jet lagged brains are still somewhere over the Pacific. All the luggage arrived as well (Yay!) and the shuttle had room for it all. Our hotel rooms were available right away at 8am, but we knew if we lingered, we’d go to sleep and never get on this time zone. So we called for a pick up from the Explorer Bus and spent the day touring the city getting on and off at each attraction.
With 1.4 million inhabitants Auckland has one fourth of all the residents of New Zealand. It is located on the remains of 48 volcanoes and has oodles of coast line. It is called the “Sail City,” because there are more boats per capita than any in other city. Auckland sailors have claimed the America’s Cup trophy a number of times over the years. It’s a modern city with mostly low rise buildings, punctuated occasionally by an imposing edifice from its “Rule Britannia” days. It looks like a pleasant place to live, but is not what we would call a world class city for tourism. If the Explorer Bus took us to the major sights, the major sights were not all that impressive. A cruise ship was docked downtown which made things crowded and we heard many American voices. We stopped at the Auckland Museum which was originally built as a war memorial. They put on a nice Maori culture show, complete with the aggressive moves and postures that made the Maori a power to be feared until the white man with his guns came along. The museum also had fine examples of their wood carving prowess - boats, statues and homes.
We also stopped at Parnell Village, one of the few places in the city where some of the older buildings were preserved and today are used as shops and restaurants. It was described as a premier shopping stop - we were not impressed.
The Sky Tower downtown has become the symbol of the city and is a landmark. Its top holds all the communication antennas for the city and nice restaurants are on various levels of the tower. You can take in the views from the top and jump off of it if you are crazy. A few young folks were.
It feels so good to be back in the summer. The temperatures is perfect and the daylight lasted until the end of dinner. We are proud to say that we lasted until the end of dinner as well.