“New Zealand is not a small country but a large village.” Peter Jackson
After last night’s gala, we miraculously rose up at 4:00 AM, after a wakeup call from the hotel front desk. The three buses that assured our transport did not show up at 5:00 AM, they were late, “because of the rain” claimed the drivers.
Notwithstanding, in less than an hour, all luggage was on board, the caravan was bound to Sydney International Airport. We were going to New Zealand!… Twelve travelers, including the CME coordinator and three instructors, were skipping New Zealand and returning straight home.
We had two glitches at the airport, inherent to a large crowd handled by a Qantas desk less than optimal in the exercise of its craft. All cleared by boarding time. Two-hour time difference added, it took 5 hours to Qantas Flight #QF0143 to land at AKL International Airport in Auckland.
The airport gadgetry to process incoming travelers is quite impressive. Yards ahead of JFK.
And carts are free!
At the gate, Jason was waiting, with a Welcome Travel O Ganza sign and logo. Luggage and travelers boarded the three coaches and we went into a city tour of the New Zealand capital.
The former capital of New Zealand was founded in 1850; the Maori called Tamaki. The City of Sails is known for its iconic boats. One in five families owns a boat. The population of Auckland is 1.6 million, including the largest Polynesian population in the world. Auckland is beautiful and tidy. It sits between the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. It looks like a cross between Fort Lauderdale of the 90s and Seattle, Washington.
Eerily, some Auckland tourist sites bear names that are similar to the ones in Sydney, among them are the Sky Tower (tallest structure in the South Pacific), the Harbour Bridge, and Sea Life Aquarium. Also remarkable is the number of parks around Auckland. It is one in every neighborhood.
A two- and half-hour sightseeing took us to Victoria Park, the Viaduct Harbour, the Air New Zealand Building, the Cathedral of Saint Trinity, the Maori Cemetery, the War Memorial Museum, Auckland Domain, Waitemata Harbour, One Tree Hill, Albert Park, Maungawhau (the dormant volcano, on Mount Eden), etc. We had multiple stops for pictures. The weather was optimal.
At 6:00 PM, ten hours after leaving the Intercontinental in Sydney, we checked in at the Cordis Hotel, a 5-star accommodation on Symonds Street. We only had two hours to be ready for the anticipated dinner at Portofino, the one located in the Viaduct section of town.
(Odler Robert Jeanlouie, Tuesday, October 9, 2018, Auckland, the former capital of New Zealand.)
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