Onward in Auckland

Posted on February 10, 2008
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Mount Eden “Food Bowl” crater and Auckland skyline with Sky Tower                               On our first full day in the country, we spent the morning planning our North Island itinerary with Allyson at the iSite NZ tourism office. The offices are more like travel agencies. They recommend and book tours, accommodations, transportation and auto rentals and give advice. They take immediate payment for whatever they book and issue vouchers.

                               The only trouble we had was convincing
Allyson that, while exploring and learning are important parts of our trip, we want free time for beach combing and relaxing.

                               It is a great service. I don’t know how the private travel agencies feel about it.

                               That afternoon, I watched the Superbowl and Michelle explored for business products and services she needs to conduct business from the bottom of the world.

                               The following day we took an Auckland city, hop-on, hop-off, bus tour. It gave us an idea of the areas and attractions where we would like spend more time. After the first circuit, we got off at the inner-city, upscale community of Parnell for lunch.

                               Our waitress, Bryanna, was a Canadian from Orillia. She’s working her way around the world. An agreement between New Zealand, Australia and Canada, allows our young people between 18 and 25 to visit the other countries and work for a year without going through a complicated visa process.

                               On our way out of the restaurant, Iguacu, we discovered that it had been chosen the best in the city and the country for 2007. We were not surprised. It was delightful.

                               http://www.iguacu.co.nz/

                               Our lunch there was one of those perfect moments in time. The food, wine, ambience and breeze were perfect. The weather was pleasantly tropical and the music included Sade who is perfect for that climate.

                               Meal prices are about the same as in a Canadian city. With GST included and the Canadian dollar advantage, they are not shocking. Although tipping is not a custom here, it is hard not to leave a little something when service is so often so cheerful and helpful.

                               As we move around the country, we continue to run into more such young women as Bryanna and Canadian ex pats.

Miramichi connection

                               Our first Miramichi connection occurred on the bus onward from Parnell. We heard a woman explaining to someone where New Brunswick is. She turned out to be Brenda nee Butcher, the late Rod Butcher’s sister. Rod was once the news director at Radio Station CFAN.

                               What we have not figured out is how anyone affords the real estate prices. Anything we see we like as much as home seems to be selling for about $1,000,000 to 4,000,000 depending on location.

                               Even with a 20 cent or so break on our dollar, that indicates that New Zealand’s paradise is not undiscovered. I wonder where Shania Twain’s several thousand hectares are?

                               It isn’t really surprising. The country is exactly the gorgeous, green, gentle, paradise of beaches, bays, coves, and exotic flora and fauna I had fantasized about all my life.

No mammals

                               The only mammals native to New Zealand are two kinds of very rare bats. There are no natural predators. There are no snakes, poisonous or otherwise. There is one spider with a venomous bite but it is so shy no one ever sees it.

                               Mankind and his companions from other climes are the only pernicious weeds in the country. Rats, cats, rabbits, possums, sheep and plants have been troublesome.

                               We hopped off the tour bus at Bastion Point Lookout where there is a Maori temple and grounds, and wondrous views. Our next pause was at Rose Park Gardens, where Michelle seized her first chance to get down to a beach and comb.

                               Next we stopped at the top of Mt. Eden, featuring a volcanic crater the Maori called the food bowl. Mt. Eden also offered more panoramic views of the city and environs.

                               There being no heavy industry in New Zealand, and the country being only 11 km wide at Auckland, the city air is fresh and clean.

                               The bus driver told me that the chief source of electricity in the country is hydro electric dams on rivers running down the mountain range formed by the volcanoes that formed the country.

                               The second main energy source is geothermal heat from those same volcanic sources.

                               The next column will deal with healthy Kiwis, boats, litter, water bridges and up island. It just gets better and better.

                                      DAC

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