Sunday, January 31, 2016

New Zealand 2016 Day 1. Tahiti and arrival in Auckland

Not too bad. Nine hours is just enough to see a movie (Minions) and get a nice snooze, but not long enough to get saddle sore. We landed in Papeete (pronounced pa-PEH-t) at 6 am, in sight of a small jagged ridge of eroded volcanic rocks. Outside of that I did not get to see a lot of Tahiti. As far as I can tell is an earthly paradise not unlike Hawaii, but in French. The locals belong to the attractive Polynesian race, with slender beautiful girls who grow up to become portly matrons, and smiling men as large as refrigerators.

The next leg of the trip started at 8 am, and in a bit less than 6 hours deposited me in the Auckland airport. Going through customs was a bit of a drag, because the Kiwis are very serious about keeping fruit and animal pests out of their islands I got 800 NZ dollars out of the ATM (at a rate of US$0.75 per NZ$1.00) right away, and for NZ$16 took the SkyBus from the airport to the city. The bus left me four blocks from my hotel, so a half hour later I was out in the street, walking down Queen St. and eagerly taking in a first glance at Auckland and its people. Diversity is what first comes to mind, for you see people of many colors and ethnicities milling around: Whites, Maories, Southeast Asian, Chinese, Japanese, and Indians. Fortunately for the visitor, they have all brought with them their cultures and foods, so there is no shortage of places to eat exotic food (including a Mexican restaurant, of course).

My promenade down Queen St. brought me to the wharf, where the most bewildering array of yachts and large sailing boats appears to have congregated. If you ever are in a market for a luxury boat, you might want to consider coming here to find the best selection and prices. With so many posh boats it is not surprising to find a very posh “fish market”, which is an understatement for a series of fancy seafood restaurants.

Overall a handsome town, which reminds me a little of Vancouver and Victoria in Canada. But now is time to get to bed, because tomorrow will be a long day.

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