Day 1 - Auckland
|Monday, March 13, 2006: We arrived in Auckland at 6:00 AM, visited the nice folks at the lost luggage desk, then enjoyed a nice McDonald's breakfast as our first meal in New Zealand.
|Our first day in New Zealand was beautiful and sunny.
|We headed straight downtown and dropped off our hand luggage at the Carlton Hotel, then headed in the direction of the Sky Tower. Its distinctive look is easy to spot from all locations in Auckland.
|Our destination was the Explore Auckland bus stop at the base of the Sky Tower. It's pretty distinctive from this angle too. See Day 13 for photos from the top.
|The Explore Auckland bus does a full circle tour of the city, with stops every ten minutes that allow passengers to jump on and off as needed. We made a note to return to Victoria Market and Bastion Point later in the day, but we had more immediate plans.
|Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World! At the entrance is a full replica of Shackleton's Antarctic hut, which was much bigger than we had envisioned, comprising several different rooms.
|We rushed through it, because at 10:30 AM sharp, it's time to feed the rays. The ray tank is huge, with plexiglass sides that make it easy to see the rays up close. Just before the demonstration ended, we bolted for the Antarctic ride through the penguin habitat.
|Because the crowd of kids and parents were still enthralled by the ray feeding demonstration, we had a snowmobile all to ourselves. Here's the chilly-looking entrance to the penguin habitat ...
|... and here are the penguins!
|This guy did a little preening to make sure he looked his best for us.
|We headed back to the rays, where we watched them swimming the length of tank and back.
|Next, Tom made friends with a puffer fish ...
|... while Debbie tried in vain to get a good shot of the lionfish.
|Next, we were off to the aquarium tube, where we joined an elementary school field trip in progress.
|Oooh, scary eel!
|Cool sting ray.
|Tiny neon yellow seahorses. Chicks dig 'em.
|Our next stop on the Explore Auckland bus was Victoria Market, which we had passed earlier. We browsed the shops and then treated ourselves to kebabs at the open air food court.
|The circle bus tour took us past the Auckland container port for the second time, where there was Maersk-aplenty.
|A portion of the circle bus tour involves scenic Tamaki Drive which winds along one side of the bay. We spent a lot of time on this lovely road during our time in Auckland.
|As we had promised ourselves, we returned to Bastion Point, a large grassy park with a pretty garden in the middle of it.
|Here are some lovely blooms on a Pohutukawa tree, also called the New Zealand Christmas Tree since it is in bloom in December.
|Looking from Bastion Point to the east, you can see St. Heliers, home of our friends Pete and Sally.
|To the west, the Auckland skyline glittered in the sun. We had such perfect weather that we stayed at this spot for an hour.
Of course, our little friend Orchy joined us, too. There are no more photos from this day, because we went back to the Carlton Hotel, had a little room service, and slept for 11 hours straight.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy