Thursday, January 19, 2012

December 12th: Queenstown to Auckland

After inhaling some breakfast and tossing our bags in the car, Mark and I were off to Queenstown Airport for the last time. We checked in for our flight back to Auckland and waited for our plane to arrive. I used the extra time to grab some cappuccino and a macaron. :)

After a little while our plane arrived.

Goodbye Queenstown!

A recommendation to anyone who might be looking to fly domestic within NZ or Australia: don't fly Jetstar if you are even remotely claustrophobic. I had booked them because of how cheap the flight was, but within 15 minutes I was so claustrophobic I was having a hard time breathing. The seats are extremely close together (I'm barely 5'3" and my legs were touching the seat in front of me), and if the person in front of you reclines their seat you only have a couple inches of personal space in front of your face. A few minutes into the flight the guy behind me started using his tray table as a drum kit, and halfway through the flight someone a couple rows away started clipping their fingernails. I get that they're a discount carrier (I think they're Quantas's regional equivalent), but if I had known the flight would have been this uncomfortable I would gladly have paid the extra money to fly Air New Zealand again. It was, by far, one of the worst flights I've ever been on. ANYWHERE.

At any rate, we were back in Auckland by late morning. Our flight back to the US wasn't until the next afternoon, so we essentially had a day and a half to spend in the city before it was time to leave. We grabbed a rental car (the nicest one of the whole trip) and made our way to Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic Adventure and Underwater World!

In addition to having a comprehensive display on past Antarctic expeditions, one of their main draws is their penguin exhibit. You get to hop in a snowcat that takes you on a short ride through a whole penguin colony.

They have more than 80 King and Gentoo penguins!

This one kept staring at us. :)

In addition to the penguins, they also have a nice aquarium. Among other things, we got to see some seahorses...

...and some clownfish and anemones.

We made our way into downtown Auckland and grabbed some lunch at a cafe. One of the tourism videos on our flight over from the US had mentioned the Britomart district; it supposedly had lots of cool shops. I'm sure it did...but it was absolutely POURING when we got there! We did wander through a couple shops and bought a few things but the rain made us cut our wanderings short. We headed a little north to Takapuna, found a nice hotel, grabbed some dinner (with the slowest service I've ever seen in a restaurant), then made our way back to the hotel and watched some rugby in our PJs.

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