Our Trip to New Zealand & Australia: Part 3 – Auckland, New Zealand
On November 9, 2006, we boarded the bus for the short ride to the airport and checked in with Air New Zealand for our one and a half hour flight to Auckland. The view of the snow capped mountains as we left the Queenstown area was spectacular. We arrived in Auckland on schedule and proceeded on a tour of the city by motor coach. We made our way downtown to Kelly Tarlton's Undersea Encounter. The cool weather followed us. We later fouind out that about a half hour after we landed, the airport was closed for two hours due to high winds and storm conditions. Kelly Tarlton's turned out to be a rather threadbare aquarium that had seen its better day, verges on being seedy. When we came out to re-board the motor coach for the rest of the trip to our hotel, the wind had picked up, blowing at near gale force.
Holy Trinity Cathedral is often described as the world's only example of the "Pacific Gothic" style – extensive stained glass, including the unique window featuring a Polynesian Christ with vividly colored Pacific motifs. A set of windows along the sides of the Nave, tells the Christian story using a combination of traditional and Polynesian designs.
St Mary's is the most sought-after venue for church weddings in Auckland, and a popular destination for travelers. Inside, the soft patina of native timbers, the steeply lofted ceiling and the glorious old windows blend with the furnishings of the church to create a sense of awe and spaciousnes.
I had just tipped the bellboy for delivering our bags when the phone rang. Imagine my surprise to hear Rob Houison's voice introducing himself and welcoming us to Auckland! George Katzer was looking for Ichiro Nakano who had flown in from Japan. Rob suggested we meet for dinner, which we did. The only thing about George that I hadn't allowed for was his decided Czechoslovakian accent. Remembering that that is where he spent his formative years, I quickly adjusted. Listening to him tell about his life in Wellington was quite enjoyable. It was also good to hear Ichiro san talk about his situation back in Gyoda, Japan.
I certainly would recommend a visit to either or both Australia and New Zealand. In addition to lots of breathtaking and beautiful scenery, the people we encountered – without exception – were friendly and accommodating. Many times, they would go out of their way to ask if they could be of assistance. A good example of this occurred in Sydney when I was looking for an ATM. My wife and I were about a block from our hotel. I thought I had followed the hotel porter's directions to the machine. There was nothing. I probably had a bewildered look on my face. A lady passing by must have picked up on my dilemma. She walked up and asked what I was looking for. When I told her, she said, "Oh, there's one about a block in the direction I'm going. Come, I'll show you." Less than two or three minutes later, I had my money.