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World Tour5 – New Zealand

February 25, 2007

[Again, try narrowing the window you’re viewing this in if it looks ragged. WordPress is free, but not perfect.]

A short stay in Auckland, north island. We had hoped to see some of our son’s future in-laws but none of them now live close to Auckland. Never mind; we have a trip booked.

Sky Tower

Not surprisingly, the Sky City hotel is part of the Sky City Tower, the tallest building in the southern hemisphere.

Of course part of its overall height is the radio mast but the observation decks and restaurant are still nearly 200 metres above the pavement.

The 3 bits sticking out are supports for wires. The outside ones are guides. People pay about £200 (if I remember correctly) to be suspended from a central cable and then dropped at amazing speed before being slowed just in time to avoid becoming part of a landing structure on the pavement outside the hotel. Mad!!

We’d been told the observation platform had a glass floor section and we were determined to go up there and try it.

But first we had to orientate ourselves with that part of the city. Luckily there was a bus stop just outside for the free city tour; not a very long ride but it helped make sense of the map and gave us an idea of distances and directions to the good shopping areas and to the harbour, which were all within easy walking distance.

Sue walking on glass floorIt turned out the lifts also has a glass central section which was even more scary as the basement floor disappeared to a dot 194 m away in a few seconds.

The view up there was amazing, even if it was a bit overcast that day. We looked down on the hotel’s swimming pool on the 6th floor, where we’d been earlier, to the harbour and way out to the city’s surroundings. At the third attempt we each managed to walk over one of the outer glass sections without hesitating and being able to look down through it at the same time.

We watched the intrepid “sky divers” hanging just outside for photographs before plunging to the ground and took photos through the floor and the ‘leaning-out’ glass wall.

Later we visited the casino on the second floor. We’d never been in one before, though we’d seen them on TV. There was no entry charge, the entertainment was free and, surprisingly, the drinks weren’t expensive. We resisted the temptation to join the hundreds of people losing money at the slot machines or gambling tables.

Free tricycle rides.

The weather held fine and we wandered down to the harbour, had a drink or two and, just as we were leaving, discovered these guys, paid by the council, to give visitors free rides around the harbour. How nice!

Danny Doolan’s bar Tristan O’CallaghanLater that day we went back down to Danny Doolan’s bar and restaurant for a meal and drinks. We had a great time, helped by Tristan O’Callaghan, one of the bar staff. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in that part of the world.

The last full day was a coach trip south through the suburbs, first to the glow worm caves at Waitomo, then the Agrodome where we fed a large variety of animals before watching a sheep being sheared.

Young EmuSue’s was the first hand it had fed from. Sheep shearing

The sheep was 4 years old so it knew about being sheared.

 

From there we drove to Rainbow Springs nature park. One of the things they do there is raise rainbow trout to release into rivers. Apparently, stocks are so low it is illegal to buy or sell trout in N.Z. but it is possible to catch your own to eat in certain rivers. We were shown a variety of animal and plant life, including some endangered species and, finally, in a darkened room, we were just able to make out two Kiwi hunting for food in their eternal twilight. Not very impressive but still a highlight of the tour because they are so rare now.

The final stop just had to be the hot geysers and bubbling mud pools at Rotorua.

It had been a long day, on a double-decker tour bus, with meals provided on the move. The saving grace was that we were sat next to a couple of intelligent, articulate and knowledgeable Americans – both retired teachers. Sadly, it had been the case that most Americans we met on our travels had been loud, bigoted and largely ignorant of the world outside the USA. Hello there, Susan and Ed, if you ever read this.

Ok, flight number eight, to Tahiti.

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