New Zealand – Day 1 Saturday 15 February 2014

Katharine picked us up at 6.15am and drove us to Brisbane International Airport for our QANTAS 3 hour flight to Auckland. Meanwhile, Maria (Sandy’s sister) and Dennis made their way to Sydney for their flight to Auckland after staying in Wollongong overnight with their friends, Celia and Tom.

Both flights arrived within minutes of each other and we were delighted to see them.  Because our flights came from different cities, we were picked up by two different airport transfers and delivered to our hotel, The Copthorne Auckland City Hotel, set high above the harbour.  The hotel is completely booked out because of a big NRL event being held this weekend – all 16 clubs are going head to head in this big two day event being held at Eden Park, which is not far from the hotel.

Auckland, known as “The City of Sails”, is located in the North Island and is the largest and most populated urban area in the country, with a population of 1.5 million. There are two harbours in Auckland – Waitemata Harbour and Manukau Harbour.   This area of New Zealand is only 11 kilometres wide.

The weather in Auckland today was sunny and quite warm, with just the hint of a cool breeze.

After settling into our hotel and catching up over a cuppa, the four of us had a leisurely 15 minute stroll down the hill and through the city to the harbour area.  We walked along Quay Street to the restaurant, Tactics, overlooking the Waitemata Harbour, to celebrate Maria’s birthday.  We had a lovely dinner followed by dessert – the chef wrote “Happy B’Day” in chocolate on Maria’s plate and put a little candle on the plate too – a very nice touch!

After dinner, we walked back to our hotel, stopping at the ferry terminal to gather some information for tomorrow’s adventures. We walked past one of the areas of the Auckland Lantern Festival, which celebrates Chinese New Year.

We have all enjoyed our first day in New Zealand!

Day 2 Sunday 16 February – Auckland

Weather – clear blue skies – warm in the sun, gentle breeze off the harbour – perfect day.

After breakfast at the hotel, the four of us walked down to the harbour to the Ferry Building, which was built in 1912, and boarded the Hop On and Off Bus for our narrated tour of Auckland City.

Our first stop was Bastion Point Lookout, where we got off to take in the beautiful views over the Hauraki Gulf and the Waitemata Harboour, as well as the lovely Michael Joseph Savage Memorial Gardens and Obelisk dedicated to the first Prime Minister. We spent ½hr wandering around the gardens, taking photos of the beautiful scenery and enjoying the tranquility of this area.

We hopped on another Hop On and Off Bus, which then took us past the Kelly Tarltons Sea Life Aquarium, the Parnell Rose Gardens, the Holy Trinity Cathedral and the Auckland Museum, where we changed buses to a big double decker bus.  We continued on past the Parnell Village, Civic Theatre Corner and Sky City and Sky Tower, where we got off the bus to go up into the tower.

Sky Tower, 328 metres high is the tallest man made structure in New Zealand and is reported to be taller than Sydney’s Centre Point.  We went up in the lift to the 51st level, 186 metres high and all of us were overwhelmed by the spectacular views.  We saw some people Sky Jumping off the top of the tower and some other people that we saw told us they were going to SkyWalk around the outside of the Sky Deck on the 60th level.  Part of the flooring on the 51st level is glass so you can see that you are actually walking way above street level!!

After taking copious amounts of photos, we caught the lift up to the 60th level, which is 220 metres, to the Sky Deck and once again took lots of photos of the 360 degree view – we could see approximately 80 kilometres in every direction.

We were all delighted with our visit to the Sky Tower and the incredibly beautiful, clear, sunny day, which allowed for brilliant views of this amazing city, harbours and islands.

We continued on our Hop On and Off Bus past the Americas Cup Viaduct Harobur, which was built to accommodate the America’s Cup challenge in 2000.

When we got back to the dock area, we left the bus and decided to catch the ferry across the harbour to Devenport, a historic seaside village, for lunch.  We sat out on the deck of the fast catamaran ferry for its 15 minute trip on this perfect day. We had lunch at the Seven Stars café, which was alfresco style and Maria, Dennis and Sandy enjoyed their fish and chips and Richard enjoyed his spring rolls and chips.  Richard has acquired a taste for the New Zealand beer, Mac’s Gold!  After lunch, we walked along the harbour for a while and then back through this lovely little seaside village, taking in some of the Victorian style houses and shops and walked back down Victoria Road to the jetty to catch the ferry back to Downtown Auckland.

We took our time walking back up to the hotel, past the large ship docks, where the Holland America Line’s Oosterdam was docked and we watched another large cruise ship coming in to berth.

This evening we will be meeting with our Tour Manager, who will talk to us about our tour, which starts tomorrow morning.

Day 2 has been an absolutely perfect day!!

3 Responses to “New Zealand – Day 1 Saturday 15 February 2014”

  1. Janet says:

    I like the Birthday dessert! 🙂 Ella looked at the photos with me and said ‘Mummy what are they in?’ when she saw the photo of you and Dad in the sky tower. Your travel companions are being referred to as Aunty Aria and Uncle Denny 🙂

  2. Gail says:

    Brings back lots of lovely memories of my years in Auckland. Can’t wait to go back to NZ. Only 8 weeks away now.

  3. Tim says:

    Not sure about your co-travellers? They both look quite dodgy!

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