Not much today. Kind of an early start. Ate breakfast and headed to the airport. An uneventful 3ish hour flight and then through customs again. So glad that New Zealand will stamp your passport-Australia, sadly has stopped doing that. I do love looking at the stamps in my passport. Once at my hotel-Grand Mecure Auckland, which I would like to say, has some of the friendliest and most helpful staff that I have ever encountered. My sister told me that NZ is famous for its’ hospitality and they take pride in it. She was right! From start to finish, I couldn’t have picked a better hotel to stay at. (My travel agent is amazing!!) Anyway, at the hotel, I unpacked and waited for Clare. It was SO wonderful to see her! We went to a place for dinner called White and Wong-very loud, but good food. Tonight, I am staying at the place she is housesitting at in the sticks, outside of the central city. Tomorrow off for a wine tour. Interestingly enough, I found out later (after staying in the house) that people in NZ do not insulate their houses and they don’t have heating systems at all like in the U.S. It was a bit shocking to wake up in the morning and see my breath inside. They are pretty hardcore there. Just another instance of me noticing how centered upon comfort we are in this country.
I stayed with Clare at one of her house sitting jobs. Houses in NZ are generally not insulated, so it was VERY cold. On the way into Auckland city, we were caught in an accident and missed out ferry to Waiheke Island, but luckily, we were able to catch the one that was 30 minutes later and it really didn’t impact our tour at all. Yay! We are at Little Frog Café in Oneroa-it was pretty good. Cute little town. We toured a bit of the island-so very beautiful. If someone had told me I was on of the Caribbean or Hawaiian islands, I would have believed them. I really do hope that cute little island doesn’t get too popular and overrun with tourists hell-bent on stealing its’ charm. Our first winery was Kennedy Point. We had a Sav. Blanc, a blend called Red Trumpet and Syrah. (Also known as a Shiraz) Right before we left, we had a sav oyster shooter. It was a “work party discovery” that involved an oyster dropped in Sav blanc and you shoot it. Their advice-“Shoot, shake and swallow.” I was a little nervous, but it wasn’t bad at all-in fact, fairly tasty. A pretty good story for the 2nd oyster I’ve ever eaten in my life. We then went to Dellows and had 3 wines there. (I took pics of all the bottles we tried, full well knowing there wasn’t a chance that I would remember them all) They had so many flavored vodkas and gins, including a bubble gum vodka. No thank you. I didn’t try any of them. We then went to Batch winery for some STUNNING views. We tried 4 wines there and I bought a bottle. Our tour guide took us to see some of the homes of rich people on the island and then we caught the 1700 ferry back to Auckland. I just went to my room and relaxed. I need to take care of some work stuff tomorrow, so it will be a downtime day. I feel guilty, but I do also need some vacation time.
Today was a relax day. I slept in and went for a coffee. It has been an experience learning a whole new way to order coffee. There are so many unfamiliar options, but I quickly learned that I am a mocha girl, not flat white or flat black…mocha. I then went and tried to get some work stuff done-no dice. So, I decided to go visit the Sky Tower since it was another (unusual) beautiful, sunny day. The view was incredible. I could see both coasts (I think) and it was really interesting. I stopped at the casino there and ate lunch before I came back to the hotel and hung out.
I started out the day with a city tour that went on Queen Street (most shops on any street in Auckland) and Quay St (pronounced Key) that ran along the harbor. We went by the War museum, the university of Auckland and Parnell district. The War Museum is on the Domain. We also went up to a lookout at the Michael Joseph Savage memorial. After that was a harbor tour that included a trip out to Rangitoto Island. I love all the volcanic history!