It might be my impression but it always seemed that often Australia and New Zealand are mentioned together With most emphasis is placed on Australia. I enjoyed my visit to Australia spending time in Cairns and Sydney but I enjoyed NZ more. To be fair I saw more of NZ which could explain it but another visit to Australia Visiting other cities might or might not change my impression.
We stayed at the Sofitel in Queenstown which was a beautiful accommodation and their gardens that we walked through to the pier added to the environment. Roses were in full bloom and provided a lovely fragrance.
At the pier there were shops where souvenirs and articles of clothing could be purchased I actually bought a woolen shawl; don’t generally do much shopping during vacations. Our events for the day were a visit to Walter Peak farm and an adventurous speed boat ride to someplace I don’t even remember but I chose the farmland. To get there we would be sailing aboard the TSS Earnshaw steam boat on Lake Wakatipu.
The boat ride was very scenic and we had fun singing, in fact I still have my song booklet. It was a beautiful day can’t say we had one bad weather day and so strolling around the farm was great. The sheep dog certainly put on a show rounding up the herd of sheep and we also had a demonstration of sheep shearing. We were also able to interact with the animals certainly optional of course.
Just close to the pier at Walter Peak there is a lovely homestead boasting beautiful gardens and with facility for dining and before going to the farmland we stopped in for tea.
I have been told by one of my friends that one of the best trips she had was her visit to Antarctica; I am not really afraid of the cold but for some reason I am not drawn to going there. With that in mind I got the closest experience to visiting Antarctica at the virtual reality experience at the War Memorial Museum in Auckland. It was quite interesting where you experience the frigid temperature, wind, plane ride and ice accompanied by narration via headsets. Impressive presentation but did not change my mind. I do find the research activities important and significant and this presentation gives a fairly good glimpse of life there.
There are volcanic cones seen around Auckland and we climbed (by bus) Mount Eden and got a great view of the crater. My. Eden is said to be the highest volcanic cone.
From this point you get a beautiful view around the city. Other volcanic cones can be seen from this point and in the picture below Mount Hobson can be seen in the distance.
The Maori tribe is the indigenous people of New Zealand. We visited a Maori village which was quite an experience. We learned that there is not much documented but the culture remains strong as learning comes from their seniors. We were forewarned of the presentation regarding the facial and body expressions we would see that could appear scary or funny depends on your perspective. The key here was to observe and respect the culture. We were greeted by members of the tribe one of which was identified as a chief.
Poking out of the tongue and bulging of the eyes are very important in this culture it is a symbol of welcome, intimidation, strength and in combination with body movements indicates which of the above is being said. We were told that there is a relationship with the tongue and the sun. We were entertained by dancers and notably the use of poi balls as a part of the routines.
In the above picture note the white balls hanging close to the waist those are poi balls. Use of the poi balls were originally used to strengthen the arms and certainly adds to the beauty and rhythm of the dances. Sometimes rods were also used. Members of our group were invited to join in on some of the dances that was a lot of fun.
Our lunch was prepared Maori style by hot rocks. Fish, chicken with vegetables and potatoes were on the menu which was enjoyed by all.This was an enlightening and enjoyable experience. We later visited the museum where we again got some exposure to Maori dancers in a more formal presentation.
The next highlight of my visit to Auckland was the yacht sailing experience in the Waitemata Harbor aboard the Pride of Auckland sailboat. As we started out guest were invited to join in with the hoisting of the sails. Some of us had the opportunity to steer and I had my chance.
During our sail there was bungy jumping from the bridge seen in the background. After our sail we toured the museum at the pier. Included was a driving tour around the city and free time on our own where we wondered around at our leisure. Well that’s it for now.