Thursday June 26-Friday June 27
We were dropping like flies on Wednesday night and everyone was tucked in by 8pm – I made it to bed about 9p. Pretty good considering we were all a bit delirious from the long-haul journey.
Thursday included a dual day for our group – the kids and my mom headed to the zoo with our friend, Sarah; Bryan and I went on a tour of Auckland, the west coast and some wine tastings.
The kids blogged about their zoo trip in a guest blog….see it here
Our tour started off a bit early and did not include enough coffee at the start, but it was well worth it. The weather also started off a bit cranky but ended up on the sunny side.
The tour was interesting and full of fun facts, frequent stops and a charming tour guide named, Kevin. The tour was led by a company called Bush & Beach http://www.bushandbeach.co.nz/auckland-city-sightseeing-tours/?page=100
We started off driving in the central business district and learned that Auckland is built upon something like 50 dormant volcanoes. Insane. All of the hills surrounding the city are volcanoes. All of the rock used to make the city curbs are made from volcanic rock. The lush soil is a result of the earlier volcanic eruptions. And so on.
The city is also vast and expansive as far as land use. The population is only 1.5M, but it takes forever to get from one side to the next. Austin is 1M but much more densely populated.
There is an interesting tower in the middle of the city center, the Sky Tower. It used to be the largest building in the southern hemisphere, but now I think it’s 3rd. Apparently, crazy people bungee jump off of the tower (guided and managed by wires) down to the street level. No one jumped while we were watching as the tower was covered in clouds for most of the morning. Bungee is huge here as it was invented by two guys in Queenstown, NZ. They have it several different places – including the Harbor Bridge – you have the option of having them dunk your head in the water or to stop just above. No thank you.
We crossed over the Harbor Bridge to the east coast of the city to a beach called Takapuna Beach. Had a fantastic coffee and even a GF pastry. Lovely surprise. Rarely do I come across a coffee shop with GF pastry in Austin – and even rarer – it’s delicious!
After coffee/pastry on the beach, we headed to Mt. Victoria (not a mountain – yep – a volcano). Then we headed back across the bridge to the boat docks. The city is known as the City of Sails. People pay $30K to dock their boats in the marina and there is a waiting list. Yachting is a spectator sport here and people spend crazy $$ to sail.
After the tour of Auckland, Bryan and I hopped on another tour to the west coast for some wine tastings. We went to 3 different wineries: Soljan, Matua & Westbrook. We tried about 8 different wines at each place. Pinto Gris, Sauv Blanc & Pinot Noir were the best ones we tried. Westbrook also had a Riesling that was tasty – off dry, not sweet. We also had a lovely lunch at Soljan – vine-smoked salmon!
Between the Soljan winery and the Matua winery we stopped at the west coast beach, Muriwai. It is famous for it Gannet (massive birds) colony. We did not see any, but the surf was soothing and the short hike was refreshing after the wine tasting.
After the last winery, we headed back to Auckland to join our friend, Sarah (and her family), for her birthday dinner. Sarah is married to Shane, has a 10 yr old daughter, Emily and an 8yr old son, James. Lincoln was quite smitten with James! We went to a fantastic Italian place called Prego. Good GF pizza bread, creamy GF fettucini. Lovely day and evening.
Off to bed to rest up. Up next… hobbit adventures!