Thursday, January 24, 2008

New Zealand Road Trip - December 24, 2007 (21)

December 24


So much to do, so little time! I had my agenda: see Auckland and finish shopping (which was actually to get gifts for family and friends). Not necessarily in that order. Keep in mind this was Christmas Eve Day and we were leaving Boxing Day.

Strategy is everything in a time crunch. And we had a strategy: bus tour of the city. Specifically the Auckland Explorer Bus. A shuttle bus picked us up at our motel and drove us to the Auckland Museum (Oh my gosh, another museum!). From there we got on the main tour bus, which took us around to the top attractions. The entire tour is two loops of about one hour each. So we did the entire tour, then doubled back to a trendy shopping area. We all had lunch together then Craig got back on the bus and went to the Museum. Joe and I went shopping for an hour or so. Then we walked back to the museum to meet Craig.

From our shuttle bus - our driver (Craig took this pix).

We saw quite a bit from the bus, but due to time constraints (we had to be back to the Museum by 4 pm to catch the shuttle bus back to our motel) we didn't get out much. So the pix are from a distance and show Auckland, not individual buildings and places as we could do in other places.

First - about Auckland - "City of Sails":

The Auckland metropolitan area or Greater Auckland, in the North Island of New Zealand, is the largest urban area of the country. It is also New Zealand's most populous city with approximately 1.3 million residents, over a quarter of the country's population, and demographic trends indicate that it will continue growing faster than the rest of the country. Auckland also has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world.


So here is Auckland from a bus tour...

Sky Tower - pix by Craig.

At 328 metres Sky Tower is the tallest tower in the Southern Hemisphere, offering breath-taking views for more than 80 kilometres in every direction.


These "hills" are actually volcanoes - the city has grown up around something like 18 of them.

Museum grounds (pix by Craig).

Museum - pix by Craig.

Museum again (pix by Craig).

Joe and I didn't spend much time at the Museum, but Craig did and he liked it. He was also happy that he found an out-of-publication book by a paleontologist that he met at Te Papa. The book, naturally enough, is about New Zealand dinosaurs and other extinct NZ fauna.

A good thing about the bus tours is that they are pretty reasonable, you can "hop on, hop off" as long as the buses run and in this case, for another $NZ15 you can purchase a second day, which is what we did. Our plan was to "save" the things that were only opened on Christmas Day for the next day. So we went back to our motel with the plan to "hop on" the bus again on Christmas Day and resume our tour of Auckland.

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