Auckland, New Zealand
Early in the morning we approached the bay near Auckland for our first tie up to a dock on this trip. We have had very warm air and seas with water temperatures of 86 degrees but have now gone TOO far south so that the ocean temp is now 71 degrees and it made the air temp at sea about the same. On land in Auckland today it is to be 80 degrees for our scheduled wine tour out into the country outside of Auckland. Today's tour is (free) sponsored by Distinctive Vacations through our wonderful travel agent Rose at Pavlus Travel. We were met outside security and found out there were eight people signed up for the tour but only the three of us actually showed up. Young local Stu was the driver of a brand new Mercedes Sprinter van that holds eighteen people and had high speed internet, wow! Turns out Stu is not just our driver but the owner of the Van and a BMW 735I both of which he imported from England himself as it is cheaper to do for some taxation reasons. Stu just got this very nice ride the week before so we were some of the first. Stu said he is good financially for the next couple of months and hopes to get a government contract to haul execs around, good luck Stu! We had a ride around Auckland to start our trip with a first stop at Mission Beach for a quick walk around and then off to a posh neighborhood with nice homes overlooking Auckland Bay. Then we toured the city a little and got on the freeway out of town to farm and wine country. Young lady Elly was our host at a little house in the country that was the original home of the gentleman who owned Matua Brand Sauvignon Blanc winery. Elly came from England 14 years ago and just got married in December and besides cooking lunch for tours runs multi-day food tours around the country. She has three dogs and a cat but the dogs were cooped up in the house and the cat was a no show at lunch. Elly cooked some lamb on the Barbie and also some local sea fish and both were accompanied by a carrot salad from her garden and some local yellow potatoes. We sampled three different oils with bread before lunch, one plain, one lemon, and one chili. We also had some aged local cheddar cheese, blue cheese and a goat cheese (not Bill). We also had some local vine wine with lunch. After lunch Elly rode with us in the van just a short way to Hunter Lodge winery for a quick wine tasting and then Elly walked back through the vines whilst we drove back into Auckland via the scenic route. We had a swim on deck of the ship and a short rest then walked off the ship as we were in port until 11:00 pm that night. At 7:30 it was still light and warm and the sun didn't set until around nine. Had a walk through a marina area and stopped for a light dinner at a local place accompanied by some nice wine. Got back to the ship around ten and sat with Captain Fluffy who was telling tales of the past. Fluffy and Ms. Cox were our competitors in the boat building competition (to follow in Sea Days).
The Whisper in Auckland
Stu, our driver
Auckland evening snack off ship
outside of Auckland lunch spot on wine tour
Wine tour lunch, lamb & fish
Captain coming alongside the dock in Auckland
Stu's Mercedes Sprinter Van, holds 18, has internet!
Our van for 3
Gannet, related to Booby. One of our stops on the way to lunch was at a Gannet bird Rookery These are the Australasian Gannet's related to the Booby bird and found in New Zealand and Australia. Stu dropped us off high up on a cliff and we took a couple mile walk downhill for the views of two beaches and the very large rookery where the Gannet's were hatching little furry offspring. the walk and the views were spectaclular. Harry and Peggy were a bit pissed that they decided to have lunch with Jerry at a Chinese restaurant instead of going on this trip with us.
Black sand beach
View from the top of our walk