We made it!!!!
Most signs in New Zealand are in both English and Maori, the language of the indigenous people.
There are neat carved Maori gates here and there:
We walked around quite a bit, getting our bearings and trying to figure out what to do until we could pick up our rental car and what we would do after that.
I had planned a trip to a close-by island to check out some extinct volcanoes, but we were tired and confused about the city and didn't know how to drive around yet (and the idea of driving on the "wrong" side of the road was intimidating!), so we did some internet research at the airport before venturing anywhere.
Have you ever heard those moving walkways called "travelators"? Love it!
The airport in Auckland had some statues from "Middle Earth":
That's my luggage right there in the lower right.
That gold tote bag is TOO BIG to be my "small personal item" and it's getting left behind on our upcoming trip to Switzerland. So is that black & white bag - I only want crossbody bags on our next trip. I'll be saying much more about what I learned and what I'll be changing for our next big travel event, so stay tuned!
We went to our rental car place and picked up the car . . . and Greg bravely drove towards downtown!
Downtown Auckland has a beautiful tower called Sky Tower.
We found a carpark so we could leave the car while we explored on foot.
The elevator back up to ground level had a mirrored ceiling!
Then we checked into our hotel (early, but thankfully our room was ready!)
We could see the Sky Tower from our balcony!
Can you see those orange things along the right-hand side of the metal rim?
Those are PEOPLE! They are all suited up with safety harnesses and they walk around that rim I suppose for an adrenaline rush - eek!
Our cute little patio in Auckland:
We decided after settling in a bit that we should head out to explore and get some groceries.
Being in the southern hemisphere, it's fall in New Zealand right now, even though it's spring for us in Arizona.
We could tell; the leaves were turning and falling.
The hotel guy suggested New World, and we eventually found it!
I bought a bunch of yummy snacks and meal ingredients:
Plus a big bag of brown rice!
Then we headed off to the ferry to explore the surrounding area.
We decided to go to Devonport, which took us 15 minutes or so on the ferry.
Still wearing the same outfit . . .
but the hair needed some wrangling!
We learned that there are no "exit" signs in New Zealand;
exits are labeled "way out"!
They also don't ask cars to yield,
they tell them to GIVE WAY:
As our ferry left the dock, we could see Auckland more clearly.
And once we got to Devonport, we very much enjoyed the sandy beaches, seashells,
and sea animals.
We arrived a little before the New Zealand memorial day, Anzac Day, and there were war memorials specially set up all over the place in memory of fallen heroes.
There were recently two referenda (yes, that IS the plural form of "referendum"!) on whether to change the New Zealand flag (possibly to remove the British symbolism), and the same flag was retained. People had their flags out for Anzac Day, but also to show support of the national flag.
The beach sand in Devonport was very soft.
And the houses were adorable!
I love the long lean lines of this one:
Check out this hedge!!!
This cool house has a cut out in the foliage so the window can be used!
Weird tree with hanging-down pods:
This seagull caught . . .
a long fish?
an octopus tentacle?
a giant squid arm?
Hard to tell, but he was guarding it intensely.
There were cute little signs on the drains reminding people that they lead directly to the sea.
On our walk to the big hill (extinct volcano!),
we saw these huge Hibiscus flowers.
And we started getting used to trying to pronounce all the wonderful Maori place names.
There are lots of syllables and lots of vowels.
Also, they have extremely polite KNEELING buses!
Then we made it to the North Head Historic Preserve, which is situated on top of a hill.
It was used as an outlook during wartime.
The view from the top was wonderful in all directions.
It felt good to exert our legs and lungs after all that time in airplanes.
Can you see Greg?
The other side of the hill was quieter, with fewer boats going back and forth.
The stairs look pretty flat . . .
But they aren't!
We saw this little gathering of boats and at first I thought it was a guy in a raft, controlling the mini-sailboats via remote control.
But it's a grown-up man teaching little kids how to sail!
New Zealand has "sea scouts," like our Boy Scouts, but teaching sea craft rather than wood craft.
At the very top of the hill were the remains of the lookout.
This is a hole leading down to a storage and hideout area.
There was also a cool gun battery at the top of the hill, with a gun that could disappear away into the hill.
When we made it back to our hotel in downtown Auckland,
the Sky Tower was lit up in red for Anzac Day.