The End?

Today marks our last full day in New Zealand. But we’ve done our best to make it a very full day. Our morning began very early, at 6am, in Rolleston. Our lovely host, Beth, woke up early to make a nice breakfast of yogurt, fresh fruit preserves, muesli and toast, with pots of tea, and sat and chatted with us while we ate breakfast. We are truly going to miss her. Next, we boarded a plane from Christchurch back to Auckland on the North Island.

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Despite the early hours, our lovely host Beth and Fanny are all smiles

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South Island East Coast, viewed from my airplane window

After arriving in Auckland, we checked into our hotel near the city centre. Actually, “hotel” is kinda a misnomer – this was a HUGE apartment! (Well, huge by San Francisco standards anyway.) We have a bedroom with a king-size bed, a separate office, a full kitchen, a couch, and a flat screen tv. It’s such a shame we’ll be staying here less than 24 hours.

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Our apartment/hotel room in Auckland (this is only the living room/kitchen)

By this time, we were pretty hungry. Downstairs from our apartment, we had 2 options: an empty Japanese ramen restaurant or a hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant that looked to be packed full of young local Chinese people. The menu was very interesting – they had Xi’an style dishes, very different from the Cantonese food that we’re used to in SF. Thankfully, Fanny was willing to be adventurous with me and we gave it a try. We ordered hand pulled noodles with braised pork, a cucumber dish in a garlic vinegar sauce and Xi’an flat bread very similar to naan. It was delicious!!!! The people there were very entertained by Fanny, as she was the only non-Chinese person in there and made a great effort to speak Mandarin to the staff. Hen3 hao3 chi1! Well, if her Mandarin was less than perfect, it’s because she had a “gringo” like me teaching it to her. 😉

After this filling meal, I decided to take advantage of the beautiful Auckland weather and take a ferry out to Waiheke Island. Waiheke Island is a fun little island known for it’s beautiful beaches and wineries. Unfortunately the wineries were closed by the time I got there (I’ve already had my fill of wine tasting anyway), but I was able to observe the sun set on its seashell-covered beaches. Beautiful!

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Auckland skyline as viewed from the ferry

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Rangitoto Island – the largest and youngest of Auckland’s volcano cones

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Approaching Waiheke Island

Now, sitting here in a coffee shop, taking advantage of the free wifi, while Fanny chats with a gentleman from the Falkland Islands, I’m briefly reflecting on my short time here in this lovely country. The conclusion is… I just need to return. Despite the fact that New Zealand is a small country, there is so much beauty and so many different types of the beauty that it was impossible to cover everything on our first time here. But we definitely got the highlights. As I board the plane tomorrow for the LOOONG flight, I will say farewell to New Zealand. But not for too long. For I will return someday to this beautiful land…

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Sun setting on Onetangi beach (Waiheke Island)

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