Trip Start Dec 17, 2007
31Trip End Jan 20, 2008
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In 2001 I worked at camp with several fun international staff members from different countries. One of those staff members was a Kiwi named Maree A. I haven't seen Maree since about 2003 when she visited the camp with her parents while spending a year in Chicago. Maree is from Auckland and when she found me on Facebook this summer I was in AK, so when I found out I was coming to NZ I sent her a Facebook message letting her know I was coming and that she had to hold the date aside so that we could actually see each other. Fortunately today was the only day she was available and it worked out perfectly.
My supervisor on this cruise is very generous as well and graciously gave me the whole daytime off, even though today was a turn around day where we debarked and embarked an entire ship full of guests
My day started at 7:45 am when I left the gangway and went through the customs checkpoint and went out to the curb to wait. I was there for a while and struck up a conversation with the private drivers that take people from the ship to the hotels. We laughed together about how one of the drivers was literally driving a guest to a hotel that was about 400 yards down the pier, and their travel agent booked it! Then I saw some embarking guests that had a question about what time they actually had to be on the ship and I answered them and when I turned around I saw Maree standing there. :)
Isn't it crazy how friends can be apart for years and yet when you spend time together it is like absolutely no time has passed at all. That's what the whole day was like.
She took me to many different highlights of Auckland, we drove all over and went to beaches to collect shells and watch kite surfers, WWII tunnels, scenic lookout spots, cute towns with quaint restaurants to grab bagels and to taste Hokey Pokey ice cream only made in NZ, the National Museum to see a Maori exhibit, etc. Then at one point she asked if I wanted to go back to her house and just hang out with her husband Caleb
Sitting at her house we looked at old camp photos and talked and then unfortunately it was time to head back to the ship. We stopped at a "pie" shop for dinner on the way and I had a beef and mushroom pie. I've now tasted a pavlova, Hokey Pokey ice cream, an authentic pie and of course Kiwi Fruit everything so I have had the traditional tastes of NZ according to Caleb. Yay! The pies are like pot pies in size and shape but taste 1,000 times better with flakier pastry type crust. You also eat them in their wrapper like a BK whopper and not in a dish with cutlery.
When we got to the ship I had secured visitors passes for them to come aboard and have a ship tour. I had fun taking them all over to see where I work and live and play. It was great, I've never had visitors before.
Time ended way too quickly and we had to say goodbye. I will reiterate what I've said before, as much as I've loved this cruise I want to come back and do justice to this country by actually staying for a while. I've only merely whetted my appetite stopping off for brief visits to these lovely towns and now I want to come back. Maybe cruise lines do this on purpose. It's all part of a larger plot with the local board of tourism :) Is that money I smell changing hands...
Thanks Maree and Caleb for a fascinating and fabulous day in Auckland!