Sendero Group Travel Blog

Follow Sendero travelers on their adventures using accessible GPS.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


First day in Auckland, New Zealand

Mike and his boys touring the Auckland museum grounds
Mike in the Winter gardens at the Auckland Domain
When you only have 4 full days in a country and an entire day flying, one has to hit the ground running. That is just what Carson, Jennifer, Wyndham and I did in New Zealand. After landing at 4:30 am on Sunday, we made our way to the Hyatt hotel in down town Auckland, got cleaned up and headed outside to explore. Fortunately, the rain stopped and the sun was out by 8 in the morning. It is supposed to be spring here.

Ordering breakfast in another English speaking country is amusing as one sorts out what words mean. A short black could be a rugby player or an espresso coffee. Other items may have the same name but different flavor or texture. Biscuits and gravy would be cookies and gravy in New Zealand.

I had the Domain as a point of interest from my September visit so we set that location and wound our way through the Auckland streets. I didn’t have New Zealand street maps, only my user points. It was about 2 kilometers.
The museum wasn’t open until 10 AM so we wandered through the Domain grounds and stumbled upon the incredible botanical gardens. I loved the section with bright flowers. The boys liked the 4 foot lily pad with spikes.

In the museum, my favorite was the 100 foot Maori canoe. The boys liked the volcano simulator. We spent a couple hours perusing 3 floors.

We took a different route back to the hotel, once again using the “getting warmer” method to find our way with the Hyatt set as our destination. There was so much green space. We found lunch on our way.

It was more of a challenge to find the city bus to visit our friend Roxanne and family that evening. Thank goodness the 767 bus at the Britomart is marked for future reference. We had a great visit and had fun seeing our boys connect for the first time.

On Monday, I flew to Christchurch on the South island while my family went to the aquarium and explored Auckland.

On Tuesday, we all took a tour to Rotorua. The commentary on the bus was fantastic especially from Barny who was Maori and quite animated.

We visited the Waitomo Glow Worm caves. It was incredible to see the entire roof of a cathedral cavern covered with glowing lights, like solid stars in the sky.

The evening was spent feasting in a traditional Maori village with dancing, music and an education about the Maori ways. The area is surrounded by geysers and small gurgling spurts of steam. I enjoyed feeling the carvings from the master carvers.

We got our thrills experiencing the zorb, an eight foot beach ball, which you climb inside with a foot of water and roll down a hill.

New Zealand is incredibly friendly and green, ever-so-green.

We stayed in three hotels. The Hyatt is as you would expect, up-scale and the King Residence suite was perfect for a family. Unlimited data on the high-speed Internet is not normal in New Zealand.

The Sudima in Rotorua is too much money for to little value.

The Heritage in Auckland had a huge room and good location but a limit on Internet data.

We recommend the Great Sites Tour Company. It might be cheaper to plan one’s own sites and just use them for transportation

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