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New Zealand Trip Day 28 – Auckland

While we were in New Zealand it seemed we were continually getting lucky with the weather, with places to stay and with virtually every other thing. How long could the luck hold out? It’d seemed like trouble was slowly, inevitably gaining on us.

We woke up on Waiheke and once we were ready we headed to the ferry terminal on this Easter Sunday for our last full day in New Zealand. There were a few things left on our list, but for the most part the whole trip was seriously in wind down mode.

We had a pleasant ferry crossing. Being Easter Sunday everything was quiet everywhere. We arrived back in Auckland around 9am and were met by Jean, who would once again be our driver for the day.

First item on the list of things to do was to go visit the remaining Cullen we had not seen. On the way we drove through the empty center of Auckland and I took the opportunity to hold the camera out of the sunroof of Jean’s car and snap some photos. That means you’re meant to give me some latitude as to the composition of these photos while marveling at how camera technology has evolved to allow these kind of digital images being captured by holding a camera out of a sunroof.

This one is at the ferry terminal in Auckland:

Here is random shot of skyscrapers:

And here’s another random shot:

And this one of the Sky Tower – item #2 on our list:

Here’s a typical view of a downtown Auckland street (for those of you who’ve never been there:

I thought this was a cool sculpture in this intersection:

I thought I better quick get a picture of it but, ironically, we would pass this sculpture from every direction three or four more times this day. Note: I did not notice the huckery car in front of us. Having a duct tape back window is not a typical Kiwi accessory but an ingenuity they share with U.S. Americans. Come on BTT235, step your game up and represent your country better than that!

We were on our way to Waitakere (Maori for “only an hour’s bicycle ride from Auckland”) which took us about a half hour or so. We were to meet up with Brian (aka Joe) Cullen and Co. Joe is the Cullen kid who runs marathons seemingly without much training. He’s been known to often ride his bicycle to his work in Auckland and claim, with traffic, that it doesn’t take much longer than it does driving.

We got there a little early though and, being Cullens, they were already off doing something and  hadn’t arrived back yet for our meet up. We decided to go for a tiki tour of the area and were almost waylaid by another dam-like structure for Brenda and Jean to explore but fortunately reason prevailed.

When we got back to Joe’s we were given a quick tour of their acreage. That’s his teenage daughter and equestrian Chantelle on one of their horses:

I showed Joe’s grade school aged son, Jason, a few tricks he could do with dollar bills and paper clips while Brenda caught up with the news from Joe. I had a new friend. Joe and Co. were scheduled to make the long drive down to Rotorua for some family holiday fun but were kind enough to entertain us for a couple of hours. While his wife Yvonne got the high school daughters, Chantelle and Sarah, organized and the vehicle packed up we (Jean, Brenda, Joe, Jason and me) drove out to Bethell’s Beach for a bit of a look around:

This is a west coast beach. The black sands have an abundance of iron in them and a reputation for wilder surf. This beach also featured some interesting rock features. I’m not sure what Joe, Jean and Brenda talked about as I was generally having to watch Jason perform the tricks I showed him:

The sky looked ominous and there were some sprinkles, but the temperature was nice enough:

and the water was warm enough to wade in:

But before long it was time to push on, but not without a family photo shot of Joe, Yvonne, Jason, Brenda and Jon (the teenage girls were reluctant to participate):

On to item #2 on the day’s list and up to the top of the Sky Tower. The Sky Tower is a hotel / casino in downtown Auckland that affords a spectacular view of the city:

As you can see in this last photo, the weather is catching up to us a bit. That’s rain out in Auckland Harbour.

They’ve got this really cool bungee jump sort of ride on this tower. As you can see in the following photo, what they do is strap you into a harness that’s suspended from a bungee cord that is then attached to two guy wires:

Basically they’re letting you fall off the tallest building in New Zealand – hopefully without the splat at the end. But before they let you fall, they stop you about 20 feet into the fall and let you suspend in front of the observation deck for people to gawk at you and perhaps sell a few more rides:

After that it’s “let ‘er rip”. Me? I figure I’ve had enough dreams of me falling off cliffs and what-not that I don’t need to experience that particular sensation. Besides, I’m trying to rebuild my adrenal glands, not further burn them out. But I did do something Brenda wouldn’t do – stand on the glass floor:

After that it was time to go up to the highest observation deck ($3 more please) and get a few more photos:

And one more:

Item #3 on the list was to have some visiting time in the Mt. Eden area of Auckland with a couple of Brenda’s school friends, Jan Norbitt and Janice Fullam. We also got a chance to meet Jan’s family, have a beer and chat for an hour or two. It was nice to catch up with them again – I’d met Jan on previous trips and Janice has actually visited us in Canby once. Oh, and one last photo. Here we’re pictured with Jan, Janice, Jan’s daughter Claire and Jan’s husband Andrew:

Finally it was time for us to find our cheap hotel with a free shuttle to the airport in the morning. After checking in, Jean drove us to a nearby shopping center where we had some tasty Indian food and one last Hokey Pokey ice cream. It bucketed down rain while we were eating dinner and the local dairy didn’t have Tip-Top, but some off (re. awful) brand of ice cream. Yes, the great luck was trickling out.

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