An Odyssey Down Under: Australia and New Zealand Day 5

Monday, February 10th

Today began with a lecture by our Auckland site coordinator, Len.  He spoke to us about the history of New Zealand which included a slide show and visuals.  It was very interesting.IMG_8758

Our walk to the Viaduct Basin was easy and we had a yacht cruise on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour.  It was perfect weather and there was enough wind to sail around for an hour.  Our boat was called the Defiance.

We met our bus driver for the next few days and his name is Ben and he is Māori, but not full-blooded.  Our guide had the bus driver take us through the University of Auckland campus.  It has over 60,000 students who attend and it is the largest university in New Zealand.IMG_8697

We stopped at Eden Garden which is just under 6 acres.  It was created in an abandoned quarry at the base of Mt. Eden.  We enjoyed lunch in their cafe and had time to explore the gardens after lunch!

Our next stop was to visit Auckland’s War Memorial Museum. On our way we made a quick stop at the Auckland Domain Wintergardens.  It opened in 1913 and contains many rare and beautiful plants that are displayed in two Victorian style glass houses with a courtyard between them.  One house is heated and contains tropical plants and the other house contains temperate plants that change with the seasons.

At the War Memorial Museum, a docent gave us a tour with a focus on the permanent Polynesian and European settlement exhibitions.

There was some free time to visit other parts of the museum on our own.  It was an excellent overview but one could spend a day exploring this wonderful museum.


An Odyssey Down Under: Australia & New Zealand Day 3

Saturday, February 8th

We landed at the Auckland airport around 9:00 AM but we waited about 10 minutes to get to our gate because we were early.  We went through customs, got our luggage and put it through the X-ray machines.  Our driver met us outside the baggage claim.  He took us to our hotel.  It all went smoothly!

Our hotel, the Grand Mercure, was in a great location.  Our room wasn’t ready yet but we checked our luggage and started our own exploration of Auckland.  We headed up Queens Rd. and turned left onto Wellesley and stopped at Albert Park.  We strolled up and down the hills of the park and enjoyed the warm, sunny weather and beautiful flowers!

On our way back to the hotel we stopped at a small market and got some water to have in our room.  When we got back to our hotel we found out our room was ready!!!  Yea!  We took showers which helped to revive our senses and it was wonderful to be in fresh clothes.

We left our hotel again and walked along the water as close as we could get because of construction.  Three big cruise ships were in port, Princess, Viking, and Azamara.  IMG_8591Princes Wharf was an area that we walked around and then decided to have a glass of New Zealand wine at a bar called Sardine.  It was located along the water.

After enjoying the harbour we walked back to the hotel to get ready for a group happy hour and dinner at our hotel.  Our group consists of 22 as well as our site leader, Len and our group leader Robbie.  It was a wonderful evening but we were happy to get to our room and get a good night’s sleep!

The view from our hotel room!