We flew from Denver on a Thursday in the Spring and Arrived in Auckland, New Zealand on the following Saturday in the Fall. This is what happens when you go Down Under. On the way home we left Sydney Australia at 6pm on Sunday and got into San Francisco at 4:30pm on the same day.
There was a lunar eclipse on the evening we flew out and a solar eclipse on the way back.
I had dreamed that I was upside down and could not stand up straight; this did not happen but it made me laugh to think of it.
We used www.airbnb.com to rent apartments in Auckland and Sydney, they were well appointed as they say, and it provided us with great locations for exploring at a good price with friendly and helpful hosts.
Auckland is a beautiful modern city, built on old volcanos, Steep hills, beautiful parks and an international population. We had an apartment across the street from the university and a few blocks from the central business district. The first couple of days we walked and bussed and saw the main city sights. Brothers Brewery was one stop a craft beer pub that also sold 250 beers from around the world including Rogue from Oregon. Did the Hop on Hop off Tour bus ride, This was a great way to see a bunch of stuff without having to hoof all the hills. One stop was at the Auckland War Museum. We learned that all of the games and toys traditionally played with by Maori children were training for battle.
Third day we booked a tour of the west coast with Terry of Absolute Tours. He was a riot and since it was off season we were his only guests for the day. We explored the Waitakere ranges, hiked to a waterfall, hiked to the top and then down to the pristine black sand beach in Piha. My body loved the moisture and my heart sang with the trees. The Manuka tree or tea tree is the tree of the oil and the honey so popular for healing coming from down under. We ate a bunch, I also got some bee medicine when one of them stung me on the foot.
New Zealand had its longest drought in 57 years up until 2 weeks before we arrived and everything was a color of green I have never seen before.
We did another solo tour with Terry to the east coast. We left early and drove through a fogged landscape of rolling hills, crowds of cows and scatterings of sheep. Our destination was Coromandel. We stopped for a scenic narrow gage train ride through a property owned by a man who is a potter and naturalist. He has spent the last 35 years building the tracks through his property while hosting a pottery studio and planting over 27,000 native trees. You can go there on retreat to work with clay from his hills. More here at www.drivingcreekrailway.co.nz
Another trek through the bush and we were at Cathedral rock and another amazing clear, clean beach, this one with white sand and towering cliffs and very few people. The New Zealanders call the natural landscape Bush and anything planted by man a forest. They have created a pine they grow for timber and there is logging and replanting of these forests.
David’s conference started and the rain came. Up to this point we had such beautiful weather!
I wandered in and out of the downpours, taking care of our next leg of the journey and had a day tour of Whiheke. This was a wine and food tour although very little food was offered. A sweet day of three wineries and an Olive oil farm and processer. 70 percent of all of the wine and beer made on this Island gets consumed there. This island is a 50 minute ferry ride and I was one of 30 tour guests. A note; this trip is the first time I have ever gone on a tour, and I booked 3!
After David’s conference was over we took a 3 hour bus ride north to the Bay of Islands and took a ferry from Paihia to the island of Russell where we stayed in New Zealand’s oldest establishment The Duke of Marlborough Hotel. Quaint, quiet, good bed, good food. We continued our walking about from beach to beach, through bush, up hills, watching the people and birds, stacking stones and enjoying the beautiful water.
Next stop Sydney Australia and Rain Rain Rain. Although it did rain a lot during our few days here we managed to be indoors during most of the deluge. We did our walk about, met up with our former roommate Jorge, and drank local beers. We took a tour of the Opera house, fascinating. We took the ferry to Manley beach and watched the surfers riding the surf in the rain. On the way back David and Jorge got soaked when a rogue wave came over the bow and covered them. David dried out while we explored the Sydney Modern Museum. Our last day there was all about the Botanical gardens and an evening catching beers and snacks while participating in VIVID. http://www.vividsydney.com
What we thought would be our last morning in Sydney , we found breakfast at a place close to our loft room called Kitchen by Mike. Beautiful food in a converted warehouse filled with alternative, reuse, recycled ideas on living and food. Great find. We took the train into downtown to see the inside of Saint Mary’s Cathedral where there is a black Madonna and child.
Long wait, canceled flight, airport hotel, next day walkabout around area of airport, Magdalene chapel, three hour delay and finally on a plane which will hold 300 and there were about 90 of us. Room to lie about.
Home again and still getting our rhythms back.
Amazing time had by both