Auckland, New Zealand

Trip Start Jan 14, 2009
Trip End May 02, 2009

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Flag of New Zealand  , Society Islands,
Friday, February 13, 2009

Thursday 12th February - Day 30 - Auckland
On waking and drawing the curtains this morning we found ourselves, on a very grey day, pulling into a berth in Auckland, two berths along from the Queen Victoria.  We had to wait for the local officials to come onboard and give the ship clearance, and during this time the Captain gave out an announcement  that the temperature today was going to be in the high 70's to low 80's with a 50% chance of rain, very different temperatures to what we have experienced over the last few weeks. Once the clearance was granted a group of us from the Cruise Critic group disembarked together and immediately headed towards the harbour gates where we were able to purchase tickets for the hop on, hop off bus service.  The bus left the dockside promptly at 9am and started a tour which was to last an hour - initially we decided to stay on the bus and do a full circuit to get an overview of the city before exploring on our own, however the last stop but one was at the 'Sky Tower' a wonderful vantage point to get an overview of the whole city.  Having disembarked the bus and purchased the tickets to the Sky Tower we entered the elevator which took us to the 54th floor - this was fine until the concrete block work of the elevator shaft gave way to glass so that those who had the nerve could watch us ascending - not my cup of tea!  Having exited this elevator we then had a wander around to try and establish where various points of interest were situated before entering the next elevator which would take us up to the 63rd floor - this time no glass windows - thank goodness.  On exiting the views were breathtaking and we had an excellent view of the Tahitian Princess and the Queen Victoria berthed only yards apart.  One of the fascinations of this tower is the opportunity for tourists (and locals) to do a controlled fall from the top of the building.  Those who are brave enough are clothed in special protective clothing and then strapped to a harness and asked to jump, at about 80 feet the harness locks and the prevents them from falling any further so the 'victim' is suspended in mid air for about 30 seconds before the harness allows them to fall to the base of the tower.  At least 3 passengers attempted this - some of them not so young, along with a number of members of staff.  The Sky Tower rises some 1000ft above sea level, but the jump takes place at 630 ft and those brave enough to do it plummet to the ground at around 75km/hr and spend approximately 11 seconds in the air all for the cheap price of $200 New Zealand ($100 dollars American or 80 English).  Having spent some time at the Sky Tower we then decided to head into the main shopping district of Queen Street, where we were able to make use of the internet and make some phone calls.  This task completed it was back to the hop on hop off bus service which would take us to the oldest suburb of Auckland, Parnell.  We were now into early afternoon, the skies had brightened and the temperature was now in the mid 80's and very humid - the Captain's weather report earlier in the day was a little inaccurate.  We spent some time in Parnell doing some research for a future trip to New Zealand before heading back on foot into the city centre.  However on the way back we decided to do a slight detour and return to the ship to freshen up as we had decided to treat ourselves this evening and dine in the 'Orbit Restaurant', the revolving restaurant at the top of the Sky Tower - a welcome change from the ships food.  As our reservation was not until 5.30pm we had time to do a little more exploring on foot, we once again headed up towards the Sky Tower but then walked on past it towards the Victoria Park Market another stop for the tourists on the hop on hop off bus service.  This proved to be very disappointing selling goods which would have been better thrown in the trash/rubbish, but none the less it was good exercise.  It was then time to return to the Tower and head up to the restaurant, where we were given a window seat and we were able to dine on Seared Tuna, Roast New Zealand Lamb followed by dessert and coffee along with wine pairings for the first two courses all for $65 New Zealand - excellent value.  It was then time to head back to the ship and as we entered the harbourside we felt the first few sprinkles of rain - we were so lucky with the weather.  Although we had had a long hot and tiring day Tahitian Princess had organised a local folkloric group to come on board and perform some of their local dances, so at the end of a really enjoyable day we summoned up enough energy to watch an enjoyable show of native New Zealand dances.  On returning to the cabin the ship was preparing to leave, albeit in pouring rain so we were able to watch the lights of Auckland disappear into the night sky - the end of an excellent and enjoyable day.
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oceanmotion on

Sounds like a wonderful day!
Except, your description of the Sky Tower, glass elevator, people jumping off the tower! I'll probably have nightmares tonight about falling, clutching madly at the side of the bed trying to stop the fall to my death! LOL

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