Saturday, November 13, 2004


After going through customs and taking care of my Wellington to Christchurch flight, I headed into Auckland to search for accomodations and setup some tours.

It didn't take very long. I signed up for an short adventure tour to Waitomo and Rotorua, continuing on to Wellington. I'm going to miss Lake Taupo as it takes longer to travel overland than I thought. That's OK, I can always see the area when I do Ironman New Zealand. Riiiiight. ;)

I found a backpacker's hostel, washed up, and crashed for a few hours. I slept on the plane in two or three hours chunks, but I was still pretty beat.

After the nap, I found some lunch and took a city tour. We drove by Albert Park, University of Auckland, Mt. Eden, the Auckland Museum, and a bunch of suburbs. It's pretty, especially with local vegetation like the Christmas tree (a.k.a. Pohutokawa tree), Norfolk Island Pine, Kaori trees, etc. The tour stopped at Mt. Eden, which offers a great view all over, since it is the highest point (except for Sky Tower of course). No pesky trees to block the view, because Mt. Eden is a dormant volcano, in fact at the summit you can clearly see the caldera, now overgrown with grass.

View of Auckland

In the background is the city, and in the foreground is the grassy caldera.

We also stopped at the museum and I took a few pictures of a Fiji native sailboat, and some Maori house decorations. One was particularly fierce: a Maori haka (war dance facial expression), and a dancing monkey.

Maori Wall Panels

I learned later in Rotorua that the dancing monkey is actually human. It is considered an offense to the gods to carve a realistic human figure, so Maori carvings always have an altered appearance.

After the tour I wandered around the downtown area: Albert Park and the University over to Sky Tower.

Maori Warrior Sculpture

Albert Park

University Clock Tower

Auckland is completely into the cafe culture - they are everywhere. The two most popular cuisines seem to be Middle Eastern (dozens of kebab places) and Japanese (sushi). In fact, some cafe are combo restaurants: kebab/sushi. Now that is an unusual mix! Speaking of dinner... it is time for me to search for food.

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