Fun in Auckland
Over the weekend of Oct. 11-13, we flew up to Auckland to visit with Mike's sister, Chrissie, and her family -- husband, Tristan and sons, Sean and Ryan. I have to say that Auckland was not at all what I was expecting. Of course there is big city traffic, but once out in the 'suburbs' everything is lush and green.
We arrived Friday afternoon and took the scenic route to their home, which included passing a simple sign that said "Tibetan Monastery" with an arrow pointing down a gravel road. Chrissie cooked and served us a wonderful lemon chicken dinner and we spent some time playing with the boys, who just adore their Uncle Mike. Then off to bed to get some rest for a long day planned for Saturday.
Saturday morning we were off to the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, because they have kauri trees and I wanted to see them. At the Visitor's Center, the first thing you see is what looks like an enormous totem pole, but I'm not sure that is what they call it here.
I wanted to get a picture of it with Heather, Mike and Chrissie standing in front for perspective. And of course, being Kiwis, Mike and Chrissie got silly and I ended up with this funny, if inappropriate, photo.
I'm not sure if Heather is just shading her eyes or trying to cover her face!!
So on we went for the nature walk to see the giant kauri trees. We didn't have to go far to see the biggest tree I can remember ever seeing.
11.89 meters to first branch = 39 feet
7.62 meters at center girth = 25 feet, but some have measured 16 meters, or more than 50 feet around
No measurement for the height of this one, but some do grow to 50 meters, or 160 feet tall.
This is Heather standing at the base of the tree and I can't get the whole tree in the picture.
Heather and Mike posing, with no silliness, for perspective.
And here it is looking straight up.
And later we came across a baby kauri.
It's hard to believe that this tree will eventually (in about 800 years) be as big as the other one!
In addition to the kauri trees, I was also impressed with the tree ferns. Has anyone in the family noticed the potted fern right next to the front door at Bill and Hope's house? Heather and Mike gave that to them and if it lived in the tropical climate found around Auckland, it could become a full grown tree - like these.
And here is one from a bridge above the trees which are 15-20 feet tall.
After our nature walk Chrissie and family returned home to prepare for a BBQ dinner they had planned for us and we headed to Mt. Eden, a dormant volcano in the middle of the city. Mike programmed Mt Eden into his GPS and this is where it took us.
Not exactly what we were looking for!!
But we were able to find our way from there to the top of Mt. Eden, and here is the view from there.
Seriously, this volcano is right in the middle of the city!
And this is part of the crater at the top of the volcano. Being dormant for a long time, the crater is now all covered with grass. At the very top of the picture, just to the left of center, you can see two people walking on a small platform of land on the other side of the crater -- that's how big it is.
And of course, Heather and Mike on top of Mt. Eden.
Sunday morning as we prepared to leave, I got a couple of group pictures.
Chrissie, Sean, Tristan, Ryan, Mike and Heather
And then of course, the obligatory picture of Kiwis being silly.
On our way to the airport, we took a detour up into the mountains to check out that "Tibetan Monastery". Turns out there really is one up there!
There was no indication that they encouraged visitors, so we just took the pictures and went on our way.
From there we headed out to the beach.
And then we found a little marina/resort called Sandspit.
From there we headed through the city toward the airport and found two New Zealand Navy ships docked in the harbor.
And then the final dash to the airport to catch our plane home.
Tomorrow we are expecting another wind storm. Weather forecasters are calling for heavy rain and winds gusting to 120-140 kph (75-87 mph). Not as strong as the last storm, but still strong enough to take down trees and power lines. We expect to be without power for the next 2 or 3 days. And of course Mike is out of town all this week on a business trip. If we lose power, Heather and I get to start the generator! Good times : )