We arranged our travels here with Playing Around New Zealand, Ltd., through Will Owen. Will met us at the airport and took us into Auckland to settle us at the Stamford Hotel, beautiful facility. After checking in we walked the dock front to find a place for dinner. After dinner, we headed back to the Stamford for a good night of sleep.
Will picked us up in the morning for a two-hour tour of Auckland. The urban area of Auckland has a population of over 1.4 million and interestingly has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world. It represents 31 percent of the New Zealand total population.
From Mount Eden, an inactive volcano you get magnificent views of the city and the waters that surround Auckland. The Maori settled the area in 1350 and developed many villages on the various volcanic mountains. As firearms were introduced into the various tribes, the area became very unsettled giving the opportunity for European settlement. In 1840 the Treaty of Waitanai basically turned the Auckland area over to the European settlers.
From Mount Eden we could see the local stadium where the World Rugby Championships have been played. Rugby is the national game of New Zealand and the team is called the “All Blacks”, they are the current holders of the Rugby World Cup. One source told us the name came from a 1922 game in England where one of the announcers at the game said that the team played like they were all backs. A newspaper then printed the article about the game mentioning that the team was “all blacks”. The name stayed!! Can’t imagine how Al Sharpton would handle this! The true story is that they had black uniforms since there 1905 tour and the name All Black started then.
New Zealand won the America’s Cup in 1995 and successfully defended it in Auckland in 2000. The city cleaned up the waterfront, getting industrial companies moved and improving the shore front for docks, restaurants and hotels. Auckland is home to many sailboats. One in five residents have boats. Will drove us around a number of the beach communities and the number of anchored or docked boats was amazing.
After our guided tour of Auckland with Will we took the ferry out to Waiheke Island for the afternoon to see the senery and visit some wineries. The trip across on the ferry gave beautiful views of Auckland and the surrounding small islands on the east side of New Zealand. Arriving on the island we got on the “Hop On” bus and
road across the island. We stopped at Stonebridge winery. The wines were interesting. They claimed to have a cab that had won many awards and sold for over $250 bottle, we tried a “flight” tasting which included it. Interesting but not one we would add to the list of “must have” wines. We enjoyed some lunch and then waited for the bus. We road the bus to the end of the line to a beautiful beach and got on the return bus towards the ferry and stopped at the Cable Bay winery.
We enjoyed some great wines and a little cheese served by our new friend Lizzie Dunkley. She is from England and has been traveling the last four years by herself around the world having lived in Singapore, France, Thailand, working in Australia and now New Zealand. She wanted to get a lot of travel experience under her belt before returning to England. She plans on coming to the United States and South America. We asked about “Mr. Right” back home, she laughed and said that would complicate her plans, but hopes to meet Prince Charming when she returns home.
Lizzy showed us a shortcut back to the ferry, we enjoyed some good laughs with the pictures and boarded the ferry back to Auckland.
Auckland was celebrating it’s 175th birthday and the weekend was to be full of street fairs. Getting off the ferry we found an English contortionists squeezing into a glass box.
In the morning it was off to tour the Bay of Islands and play our first round of golf at Kauri Cliffs.