Friday, February 28, 2014

Road Trip New Zealand

Auckland is a nice town. A town that felt positively provincial after the madhouse that was Bangkok, which should say something about the remoteness of New Zealand, since Auckland is the country's biggest metropolis with over 1 million inhabitants. OK, so it's not a town, it's a city. But it felt very quiet, almost forlorn, as I arrived straight from crowded, hot, chaotic Bangkok.

Auckland has a tower! Apparently, I love cities that have towers. 

My friend Morgan lives just one block away from the Sky Tower, which was built in 1997. Morgan and I used to work together back in 2006-07 at the grocery store in Seattle. I stayed at her apartment for a few nights, and we even went to a quiz night at a pub, at which I was most unhelpful, due in part to the beer tower. 

Beer towers are almost as cool as Sky Towers. 

Morgan and her fiancĂ©e are gracious and welcoming hosts, even letting me hold the keys to their place, which is remarkable considering my recent history with keys. They must not read my adventures on this blog. 

On my second day in Auckland, I did some sightseeing in the village of Devonport, just a short ferry ride away from Auckland. It was beautiful:

Just a short walk away from the Devonport ferry terminal, I found San Soucci. It looks a little different than the one in Berlin. 

The view from the harbor was stunning on this partially cloudy day. I went to the top of two different hills, North Head and Victoria. They are both actually volcanoes but dormant and covered in grass to look like parks. 

From the top of both hills, one could view the Rangitoto volcano. (I need to check to see if that's really the name of it.)

The next day, I set out looking for a bike shop and stumbled across a park near the zoo with a lot of birds. It included these funny blue birds with red heads that look somewhat like chickens:

And then there were the usual suspects: ducks, geese, seagulls. 

They wanted my food. I brought them some bread the next day since I had to go back to the bike shop anyway. 

My sister and two of her college roommates arrived in Auckland a few days after I did. We all boarded a plane headed to Queenstown to start a 9-day roadtrip north.

Queenstown is billed as the Adventure Capital of the World. Bungee jumping was invented here, and one can take part in a myriad of activities guaranteed to get your adrenaline pumping. We chose wifi and caffeine as our first stop. 

I hiked to the top of Queenstown hill in the afternoon for spectacular views of the valley, lake and surrounding mountains. 

We also did a fantastic (but rainy, but still fantastic) kayak trip to Milford Sound, relaxed on multiple beaches, and drove many many kilometers up the west coast. 

Of the two glaciers on the west coast, we chose to visit Fox. 

After an afternoon in sunny Picton and scenic ferry ride across the Tasman Straight, we made it to Wellington, where we had great coffee and found a place to sing some karaoke at night. The coffee shop's machine is from Seattle!

We also spent a few hours at Te Papa, Wellington's world-renowned museum, learning about history of NZ and its peoples. 

The view from the 6th floor is unbeatable:


The next day was centered around a visit to the glow worm caves in Waitomo (beautiful but expensive) and the addition of our toothbrushes to New Zealand's famous toothbrush fence. 

My addition:

Yesterday was the end of the road trip. My sis and her friends are back in the US, and I am in Auckland again. Tomorrow I will bus up to the north and get to Cape Reinga so I can start my journey south on my bike. (I already got a flat yesterday... Bad start!) 


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