When planning our multi year walkabout, we talked about the anticipation we had for all the sights, sounds, smells, and general chaos we expected to experience in some of the more exotic locales of the world. The one country I couldn't get too excited about was New Zealand- I've always looked at it as an island version of B.C. populated by Canadians with an accent. DH, on the other hand, feels a special attachment to New Zealand- she does have "rel'ees" (first, second, and third cousins) there, and loves the landscapes and vistas offered up by the country. Thinking I might be a bit harsh in writing about one of her favourite places (don't know where she'd get that idea??) she has demanded the pen back and she'll be writing about our adventures through NZ (while I take photo's of trees and rocks, and rocks and trees, and trees and rocks....hey, maybe she was right!!).
We had five days to explore Auckland and explore we did
. There are 4.4 million people in NZ and 1.5 million people live in Auckland. Very clean, easy to get around on foot although every venue seemed to be uphill! Just how out of shape am I?
Auckland is also known as "The City of Sails" and the Harbourfront did not disappoint. as . The Kiwis love their boats. We had a great day on an island called Waiheke. A beautiful 45 minute ferry ride over and a tour of three amazing wineries. Now this was the first wine tour I had ever been on but the stunning views from these vineyards was magical. Volcanic islands throughout the Harbour, rolling green hills, and winding roads. We also spent time at an Olive grove and then had a light lunch at one of the boutique wineries. The ferry ride home was enhanced by all the sailboats that were dotted along the water throughout our journey back to the mainland.
We took in a movie, spent a morning at the museum, found great little coffee shops, wonderful restaurants ..................
We also came across a barbershop school and they just so happened to be offering free haircuts by students. In the interest of helping us save some money (editorial note: spa treatments for the princess cost money so we have to cut back where possible),
Vic took the chair
. Yes, worst haircut he has ever had, but we slowly came to the realization that the " barber students" looked more like gang members on some sort of prisoner make work project. Sleeves of tattoos covered these guys, backward ball caps, attitude, so, we made no comment on Vic's " hat head haircut", I ponied up a nice tip and we were outta there!
Next stop SkyTower which is their CN Tower but not quite as tall. They have a Skywalk here, like the one around the top of the CN Tower. We signed up with another couple for the last " walk" of the day.
This is what Vic thinks NZ is all about, nothing but extreme sports that "NZ'ers have just made up"- the crazier the better!!!
To say I was scared was an understatement. You are in a jump suit ( Don Jail orange), wearing a harness that two ropes attach to and there is a guide. I was concerned that we didn't get helmets, but it was pointed out that if you fell, a helmet wouldn't do a whole lot to soften your landing on the concrete below- of course I don't think of that until after I asked about them- Vic just shaking his head. We had to take a breathalyzer before we stepped out the door
. My God, I was really nervous, my knees were locked and all I could do was shuffle along, my feet wouldn't leave the ground... and that was just to get into the elevator! Once at the top (192 metres up) the guide walked out followed by the Romanian woman ( who went first because she was having trouble breathing- I think she just kept forgetting to!), next was her 6'5" Australian boyfriend who was probably the most terrified person I have ever met- great guy and God love him for working through his very obvious fear of heights, then me with Vic at the back. The walkway is so narrow and you have to trust your equipment. The guide said that as we were nervous, we should just hang onto the rope cable that attached to the front of our harness. It's amazing how fast one can get rope burns from the death grip I had on it. I swear I kept that rope inches from my face so I could use my teeth if I had to to hang on. We had " activities" to do as the guide said, (could he not see, let alone smell the fear we had, seriously, activities?????). The scariest move for me was to squat in the harness and back out over the ledge with your feet flat and straighten your knees then let go of the rope and put your arms straight out from your sides. I actually did that one twice in case, you know who, said I was just lucky I managed it the first time.
However, the most challenging activity to do was only done by, you guessed it, Mr. "I can do anything and have no fear". Not only could I not watch him try this but even seeing his reflection in the window was nauseating! After watching how our guide did this move, Vic leaned forward over the edge on tip toes like he was going to jump, and then spread his arms like he was going to fly AND he did it twice! I was a little upset, scared I guess. He was the only one who tried this. My knees were killing me as my legs were completely locked for the 41 minutes and 17 seconds we were on the edge
. We had to walk backwards, looking straight up and with our arms outstretched (trusting the guide would tell us if we stepped too close to the edge), I couldn't get my feet to actually move backwards and had to sort of stick my bum out and slide my feet back, very awkward (kind of like someone who doesn't know how to ice skate trying to skate backwards. We were safe, I am sure, but it is amazing how the mind works, physically too afraid to even move my feet! I have haven't felt fear like that since my one and only skydive with Bonnie D and Nancy V.
When the four of us watched the video of our " walk" (guide had a camera on his helmet, yes, he got a helmet!!) back on the ground at the sales office, everyone was howling to see me right up the backside of the scared guy, it looked like I was part of him! I was horrified, and so embarrassed, I thought everyone was walking that close to the person in front, shows how much I looked around. Glad it is over but glad we did it.