The DougBlog
"Et sans savoir pourquoi, disent toujours: Allons!" —Baudelaire

Friday, November 19, 2010

Doug & Karen's Kiwi Adventure Part 1: Auckland

Okay, so there’s hasn’t been much blogging. That’s because there’s hasn’t been much that was blog-worthy, and it was a particularly busy summer. But now it is fall and time for my annual autumnal journey—and this year’s destination was New Zealand, accompanied by that wyniswoman deluxe, Karen Landes.

Why New Zealand? Why not?! Although its become more popular since The Lord of The Rings was filmed here it’s always been on my “top 10” list. It’s a small country but jam-packed with amazing and varied sights. I think a good example of this is the fact that, one night, I was going through my photos from the day and found these two photos one right after the other:

For a second I thought I must be missing a bunch of pictures but then I realized that was not the case at all: indeed I was hiking on a glacier and then on a beach only an hour later. What a crazy, beautiful place. I’ve had no time to blog on the run but now that I’m sitting in Christchurch Airport awaiting the first of my 3 flights home I’ll get started. Our first stop was Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city.

It’s a nice city. Although it is officially the “world’s largest Polynesian city” it doesn’t feel particularly is however beautifully situated on top of 48 dormant volcanoes:

We visited the Auckland War Memorial Museum, which is, well, both a war memorial and a museum. It seemed like a good way to learn about the country we were about to explore. It’s a beautiful neoclassical building on an old volcano overlooking the city:

The coolest parts inside were the Maori crafts. The Maori are the native people of New Zealand, Polynesians who seem to have first discovered New Zealand around the year 950 and only started to come in large numbers in the 1300s (one reason New Zealand is so wild is because it’s only been inhabited for about 1000 years). The displays included these entire whare (houses):

You could go inside the biggest one to appreciate the intricate work:

The sticking-out of the tongue is a traditional Maori stance of challenge, as we saw in a demonstration thereafter:

The top floor of the museum is the war memorial:

Here’s Karen enjoying her lunch on the steps. For a skinny lady she sure does enjoy her food:

The Sky Tower is the most prominent building in Auckland and the tallest in the Southern Hemisphere:

Needless to say you can’t help but go to the top, and it does offer some impressive views:


Karen dealing with High Anxiety:

The prominent volcano in the distance of the 4th photo back is Rangitoto, an island in the harbor. We took a ferry there the next day and climbed to the top over fields of lava:

The island is dotted with baches, cute little old huts that were used for vacation homes. They got their name because they were usually owned by bachelors when they went out a-huntin’ and a-fishin’:

Auckland is known as “The City of Sails” because it has more boats per citizen than any other:

Famous green-lipped mussels:

Next up…the Maori culture and geothermal wonderland of Rotorua!! BUT BEFORE WE GO…A FEW PARTING SHOTS!

Yes, they have Kiwis:

Proof that it’s spring on this side of the planet:

Karen and I shopped for food like our parents were away for the weekend:

So far from home, and yet so close:

Karen shows her pais as we pay homage to our peeps:

Class photos from a Maori school. Clearly the second year was a bad one:

This one speaks for itself:


Does Oklahoma City have a large boat registration department?!:

Finally, while I’m not usually a fan when airlines try to make their safety videos entertaining, Air New Zealand’s is actually pretty funny. It stars actual employees and members of the All Blacks, the country’s national rugby team (which in turn is their national sport). Click to play:

Next stop, Rotorua!


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