20 July 2011

Auckland - New Zealand Feb 2011

Though the initial experience of waiting in the loooooooooong and slow queue at Auckland airport (since we were carrying some food items) was quite frustrating, it was only later in our trip that we appreciated the reason. The economy is primarily agricultural and one bug into their country can cause havoc.
However, the whole trip was so fantabulous that this was quickly forgotten by me...in fact I remembered about this long wait only when I revisited Indu’s notes on our trip.
People on the SkyWalk
Kiwis - a funny but amazing word for it can refer to the country, the people or a fruit!!! Tells something about the people though – no hassle, no ego, people who can crack a joke on themselves as Sussane our driver cum guide in Auckland demonstrated.

Adventure activities, Wine, Sheep, Cheese and Maori land...few words that come to mind when one thinks of New Zealand. We got a taste of adventure on our very 1st day in Auckland.

At the famous Sky Tower one gets to walk around in 360 degrees on a 1.2 meter-wide walkway at 192 meters above the ground. No handrails and nothing but air on either side of you!!!
Heart missed several beats as we reached the reception or Mission Control as they call it, and saw the videos and understood what we had bargained for. Only Nalini seemed totally unperturbed. As 2 of our group decided to give it a skip and a third one was in two minds, I tried to put on a brave front and encourage them, though deep inside I too wanted to join them!
Finally the four of us went ahead...what an exhilarating experience. Not to be missed I would say. We had a really nice instructor who was quite patient with us while at the same time kept encouraging us to try several things like a ‘Titanic Pose’ standing at the edge and the other way around where it was like ‘Hanging over the Edge!’ After the initial hesitation, 3 of us did try all that, though Dipti just hung on to her rope. We were quite comfortable by the end of it and just before we finished the walk, we were just standing and chatting when we hear Dipti shout – guys can we just finish this and get to the landing platform. Looked like she had had enough!
Green Crater at Mt Eden

A quick lunch and off we were for the city tour towards Mt Eden and the Green Crater! New Zealand is part of the ‘Ring of Fire’ and Auckland is considered a geologists paradise with as many as 50 dormant volcanoes - you can climb their peaks and enter their cones. Mt Eden is the highest of these from where you can get expansive views over the city, the famous Eden Park Cricket ground and the Waitemata Harbour But what was more amazing was the greenery there...not something that one would associate with a crater!
Auckland Museum Sign!
From there we passed in front of the Auckland Museum where I saw an interesting sign – ‘I AM OUTRAGEOUS I AM AUCKLAND MUSEUM’. And of course the Forsyth Barr, which is a bar for people from the Legal profession...but only MEN!!!
Tree struck by lightning
Other interesting sights included a Parking Lot for Boats, a huge tree struck by lightning lying across the park and the Harbour Bridge with its 'Nippon clip-ons'. It seems the bridge was originally built with four lanes for traffic but due to increasing traffic levels (nothing new there!) it was soon necessary to increase the capacity of the bridge So ten years after opening, two-lane box girder clip-on sections were added to each side, doubling the number of lanes to eight. The sections were manufactured by a Japanese company, which led to the nickname 'Nippon clip-ons'.
2 recreational buildings built in the shape of cruise ships were also quite unique, especially since they were on the sea front so actually looked like some ships have run aground. From the city we followed the route taken by the famous the Ports of Auckland Round the Bays fun-run around the contours of Waitemata harbor.
A stop at the Winter Garden with several varieties of flowers and fruits bought the tour to an end. A warm day, Susanne not able to get AC of the vehicle running...just the ingredients for an Ice Cream break.
Later in the evening we took a ferry to Devonport and walked along the sea, paddled in the water, posed around for snaps, collected some shells and whet up an appetite. Good for us as we had a lovely dinner at a place called Mecca …lovely being an understatement. It was the best vegetarian meal I have had outside of India! A starry sky and glittering lights of Auckland on the return trip was just the right way to end the day.


Hema said...

Good account of the first day! Brings back great memories. 13 days more !!

Unknown said...

Fun to read. Had almost forgotten some of this since soooo much stuff came after!!

Unknown said...

I signed up!