Another morning of getting up with the rooster, getting ready before the kids wake up, last minute packing and rustling up the kids in time for breakfast. Pure sightseeing vacations are a recipe for work and more work and sleep deprivation :) Not that one minds when one is in the middle of it. The travel agent had messed up our tickets on the domestic sectors and we were unable, both in Queenstown and in Christchurch, to tele-checkin or do a self checkin. We had to get someone from Air New Zealand to help us. On top of that, in Christchurch I managed to lose our boarding passes. We discovered their absence as we were heading towards security and had to rush back and get new ones and then run flat out to make our flight :((
Auckland was windy and cloudy as we landed. The hotel that I had booked us in was part of the Skytower entertainment complex. It is one of those Vegas-style hotels cum casino, popular for banqueting and conventions in addition to regular tourist and business traffic. It was extremely crowded but the rooms were perfectly comfy and it was right in the middle of Auckland CBD (downtown). Since there was such a rush, we could not check in early so we parked our luggage with the concierge and headed out to the Viaduct Precinct to take in views of the waterfront. The Viaduct is a commercial, residential and entertainment precinct, chockfull of shops and restaurants and the one place where you can see why Auckland is called the "City of sails". The marina is full of boats of all shapes and sizes, from cruise ships to super-yachts to commercial fishing vessels. We walked around from pier to pier, and finally had lunch at a nice place where Ads lost his first tooth.
None of us had ever seen an ocean liner before and we were excited to spot a couple berthed in the marina. They are HUGE!!! I think my next vacation should be on a cruise :)
Auckland was the only city in NZ where you saw what can be loosely described as "crowds". The country has a shade over 4 million people and about 1/3rd live in Auckland. The pic below is a crowded street in the CBD. We were waiting for the light to turn green.
Skytower. The building you can see right next to it is where we stayed.
The lobby of the hotel. Like I said, characterless and swanky, but perfectly adequate :)
The view from our room window. It started raining as we were walking back to the hotel after lunch.
I spent the afternoon and part of the evening walking around the city by myself while S watched the test match on TV and the kids chilled in the room. That was the only few hours in the entire trip that I got to myself, with no specific agenda other than a vague notion of picking up something for our house. I was conscious of a sense of depression that I always feel in the last day or two of a nice vacation, a dread of going back to the normal life and guilt that I should feel so ungratefully low when I should be rejoicing at my fortune at having experienced NZ! As much as I would have liked the holiday to have been longer, it would simply not have been practical with the 2 children. I was happy they got through the 10 days with not as much as a sniffle and that even after getting back to India and the radically different climate, they were able to hit the ground running with no sickness or serious jet-lag.
Our flight was at 9 am the next day so we had to leave the hotel around 6.30 am. We left behind a dull and rainy Auckland. I got to know much later how lucky we had been with the weather. The week that we spent in the country was one of the few blessed with sunshine. Apparently it's been rainy ever since and the prediction for this entire month is unseasonal rain and storms. Our flight back was uneventful. As always, the route back seems to last forever and it didn't help that I spent a large part of the 10 hr Auckland - Hong Kong leg groaning and being horribly travel-sick :(
So, that's it. I've thoroughly enjoyed reliving the vacation through writing these blog posts. I was afraid I'd forget all the little things that we did and experienced if I didn't write them down. My friend asked me where my next dream vacation would be. I was dumbfounded. I told her that NZ has been on top of the list for so many years and really, it's been #1, #2 and #3 for me for a long time. Now that it's done, I'm not sure which other place I need to lust after :)