october 24, 2000
the most recent dispatch from the field... (more)
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oct 21, 2000
City scenes and a run for rings in Wellington ... (more)
oct 19, 2000
Sunny in Abel Tasman and fine wine in Nelson ... (more)
oct 17, 2000
Hokitika, Punakaiti, beaches, pancakes, horses, and caves ... (more)
oct 15, 2000
Wanaka and rainy days at Franz Josef Glacier... (more)
oct 14, 2000
Natalie arrives! Te Anau & a night on Milford Sound ... (more)
oct 12, 2000
Invercargill, Athol flat tires, and snow on the long route to Queenstown ... (more)
oct 11, 2000
Multimedia schools, museums, and the streets of Wellington ... (more)
Early in the morning of October 22 we checked out of the Wellington Downtown Backpackers and walked across the street to the Railway station (proximity to this was one of the pluses for the accommodations). We had tickets for the Overlander which would take us all the way from Wellington up through the spine of the North island to Auckland. It was an 11 hour journey, an all day event.
The trips was quite scenic and does a great job of showing that the serene, rolling green hills and mountains are quite "different" from the South Island. Neither is better in my mind, both are very dramatic. The topography of the first part of the trip is impressive, especially in the routes that train must take to climb the volcanic plateau. Again clouds hid the peaks of Ruapehu and Tongariro from me (curse you, clouds!).
By 7 PM we rolled into Auckland, the last of a swing that had taken us from Punakaiki to progressively larger and larger towns, then cities, to the biggest city in the country. We had a short cab ride to our accommodations at the Parnell Inn, located in Parnell, the midst of one of the older, and most vibrant, of Auckland City neighborhoods. The streets are lined with art galleries, gift stores, and active cafes and restaurants.
We had arguably the best food of the trip at a place called Ignacau, a festive place named after a locale in South America. It was farther than "out of this world".
today's photos - all photos o o o o
o o Auckland
after number 58
The next day we ventured downtown to Queen Street. It was rather quiet as it was Labor Day, and not only were many places closed for the holiday, most people had left the city for the long weekend. We wandered down to the America's Cup waterfront, and had a fun lunch at the popular "Loaded Hog" restaurant, which features their micro-brewed potions. It has to be a fun place with a name like that!
For our last day, we rode the ferry out to Waiheke Island to visit some more of the galleries and wineries. We even found a beautiful quilted wall hanging that we convinced ourselves was a great fit for our living room. Buying art was a new experience for us that we started on this trip... not that we are into the big time, but we liked the matching of our attractions for what we think fits our home style.
And then there was the experience of looking for another gallery listed in the tour guide that was near the village of Ostend. We narrowly missed the bus so took a cab to the address. As the cab pulled away, we looked inside and noticed that it was a vacant building! Either this, or we were just poor judges of art. Then, a man working on the grounds told us that the gallery had folded months ago! we laughed pretty hard at this one.
Back in Parnell, we decided for our last evening to break our rule of not re-visiting restaurants for a final meal again at Ignacau and it was worth breaking the rules! From there we packed our final bits and were waiting for our 7:45 pick up from Super Shuttle.
And we waited past 8:00. And 8:15.
The nice folks that ran the Parnell Inn had called twice again to Super Shuttle for us and finally they spoke to someone in power and got a van there pronto... and the hotel owners insisted in giving us the money for the fare ("Oh we will get it back from those people!"). this is yet again the kind of helpful service we found in New Zealand... people going beyond what you might expect to make your experience an excellent one.
Natalie and I got to the airport in time for her to check in... but I could not go past security so we had to say goodbye on this side of the customs gate. I watched her plane lift off at 10:30 PM.
Right now, I am waiting at the airport all night since my flight leaves first thing in the morning and there was little point in going back to Auckland and back here again. So I get the 3:30 AM experience of life in the terminal and try to catch up on some web work. I would like to try to summarize up this New Zealand experience in some other phrase than "wow", but I have to say over and over how great a place this is. I would come back in an instant. Even in 2 months, I feel like I have experienced only a fraction of what I'd like to.
So New Zealand, "Good on Ya!"
And in a few short hours, I am off to Sydney for the third leg of this adventure....
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