Sunday September 5

Does Auckland look like Bridgeport or am I just REALLY tired?

One thing we know before even leaving is our trip TO AU/NZ will cause us more jet lag than our trip in 2001.  In that trip, we got to Sydney around 8:30 PM one day later, so after going to the hotel we went to the neighborhood pub and had a VB and a snack, then went to bed at a reasonable 11:00 PM.  As a result, jet lag was essentially zero.

In 2004, we get to Auckland at 5:10 AM, and have that one day in city before going to Queenstown.  Therefore, we plan to drop bags off at the hotel, see how early we can check in, go out for a bit, take a nap, then go back out later to see more of Auckland.  It's not an ideal plan, but it's what we're working with.  Hopefully it should not be as bad as I'm making it out to be...

And since last time people liked to track our progress and wanted to know where we were (yes they're virtual stalkers), we're at the Airedale Hotel, 380 Queen Street, Auckland.

We made it to Auckland with no problems affecting our travel.  Our first class flight from BDL to ORD was fine and on time (and they fed us nice sandwiches and wine).  Our first class flight ORD to LAX was fine and ontime (and they fed us filet mignon and wine).  Also watched the movie "New Suit" which was not too bad.

We had one concern because Mom brought a sentimental piece of antique whale tooth ivory, which is banned by New Zealand Department of Agriculture.  We were concerned that they would confiscate it, so we looked around for a padded envelope to mail it back, but we never found one.  We were going to buy a greeting card and mail it, but we realized there are no mailboxes around anymore - another victim of 9/11 security?  Perhaps.  So we ended up declaring it in Auckland, and they checked it out and said that was okay.  So our fears were allayed.  But note this, anyone who travels to these places with alligator shoes, ivory, teeth, shells, etc.  They are serious about their practices! 

Back to the trip over.  We had to hang around LAX airport for about 5 hours before our flight was supposed to leave, so after deciding on the above issue re: the ivory, we checked in and went through the new security procedure for checked bags.  They now have one of those multi-million dollar screening machines and every checked bag goes through it.  You deliver your bag, wait in a separate line while it goes through, then if it passes, they seal it and it goes on the conveyor.  It does give you some confidence that every bag is checked, so you're feeling pretty good when you get on the plane. 

We then went and had a snack dinner and a beer before heading to the gate around 8.  Security check was friendly, quick and competent, then we headed to the gate, where we ended up waiting until about 9:15 before boarding for the 9:40.  The flight wasn't quite full and we had window seats but not much extra room for sleeping.  We did have a nice row-mate, a young woman from Knoxville who was on her way to some place she didn't know near Rotorua to do missionary work with the Maori. 

The flight from LAX to Auckland was about 12 hours, as expected, and they have upgraded the planes so each seat has its own video monitor, so you can watch any of 13 video channels, play video games, or watch the neat electronic map that shows the plane's progress.  I hope to get a picture of that on the way back - we were too tired to get the camera on the way down.

Anyway, we arrived on time at 5:10 am, went through passport control, then had to wait half an hour for our bags (first on, last off?), then off to customs for the Ivory incident.  Then to the shuttle bus for the trip to the hotel.

It should have only taken about 20 minutes but because several people on the shuttle were being dropped off at their houses, it turned into an hour tour of Auckland and its environs.  There is a wicked big tower in Auckland, supposedly the tallest tower in the southern hemisphere.  Will get a pic of that before we leave.

So now Mom's taking a nap, and I probably will too.  But we wanted to let you know we made it, it's beautiful, about 50 degrees F, and we're looking forward to flying to Queenstown tomorrow.  Bye! 


Hi again!  After a couple hours of much-needed shuteye, we went out to see how much of Auckland we could see in an afternoon.  As it turns out, we saw everything!

The tallest tower in the Southern Hemisphere is now the SkyCity tower in Auckland, taller than the AMP tower and nearly as tall as the Empire State Building.  From there, you can see horizon to horizon, with the exception of those pesky mountains that keep getting in the way.

So we walked over to the tower and paid our $17 to get to the top where we snapped these photos for you.  Sorry everything is a bit blue - the windows filter out some of the colors.

The Tower in the distance, as seen from the hotel.  Mom and Town Hall are in the foreground.
Tower from the hotel

The tower from beneath.  Kind of looks like a rocket, eh?
Auckland Tower from beneath

Looking east at the harbor, the shipping port, and the financial district.
Auckland to the East

Southeast toward the South Pacific
Auckland to the Southeast

South, toward the airport.
Auckland to the South

In the floor of the ring around the tower, they have several glass windows that you can stand on, or in this case, take a photo of the ground.  I can't find the picture I took, but I DID get Mom to stand on this and look down.
Through the floor at the Auckland Tower

The northeast, where the boat marina is.  Auckland has the highest ratio of watercraft to population of any city in the world.
Auckland to the Northeast

More of the waterside.

Mom & I at the bottom of the world.
Me & Mom on the bottom of the world

Other activities available are climbing the top of the tower, or jumping off it in a controlled descent, such as Mom is doing in this action photo.  (Yeah right)
Mom Bungying.  Yeah right!

lunch bungy
Bungy jumping is a popular activity down here, because it's where it was invented.  They even have funky dual-person seated bungy in the office district so you can do it during lunch.  See at the base of the two towers, there's a little ride suspended by rubber cables.

Funky NZ Trees
They also have really funky trees down here.  I thought these pine treees were at first disguised cellphone towers due to the regularity of the branches.  But I saw some up close so have decided they are natural.  This picture was taken at Auckland airport.

Tower at night
And here is how the tower looks at night.  Not bad.

That's pretty much it from Auckland.  On Monday the 6th we're off to Queenstown!


A few more things:
A postcard showing the Auckland Harbour Bridge over the start of a yacht race in Waitemata Harbour.
Waitemata Harbour

This is one of the diagrams around the tower that shows how far away the next land is.  This is toward the south/southeast.
Distance of next land masses

Some more of the mountain ranges to the Northwest.

Comparisons of the Auckland tower to other towers around the world.  The Auckland tower is in the middle in yellow.
Comparative tower heights

The international terminal at Auckland airport.
Auckland Airport

Our efficiency suite at the Airedale.  Not bad.  But the most of the showers we encountered are these 3 square foot triangular showers that are just large enough to stand in.  Must be a Euro design.
Airedale hotel
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