Friday, January 20, 2012

December 13th: Auckland to the US

Our last day in NZ and true to form, it was raining when we woke up. That didn't stop us from going to a beachside restaurant for breakfast! This was FANTASTIC...eggs, toast, a potato pancake, mushrooms, tomatoes, and guacamole, with a latte on the side. I wish I could have that for breakfast every day.

Auckland's skyline. Yeah, it really was that dreary. At some points the clouds were so low you couldn't see the top of the Sky Tower.

Since we didn't have to be at the airport until 5pm we decided to head to the zoo. There is a park off to the side, and the field was full of pukekos. Mark caught me mid-pukeko impression. Oops. :)

We rounded a corner and HOLY BIRDS BATMAN THEY'RE EVERYWHERE!! I don't think I've ever seen so many birds in one place, and none of them were scared of people! Those black swan things were as high as my waist, so I kept my distance.

In the distance you could hear a band doing sound checks; there is a stadium in the back of the park. We walked back there to try to get a peek but everything was blocked off. Turns out it may have been the Foo Fighters and/or Tenacious D doing sound checks for their concert that night. (We found out later that the concert was so loud that they picked it up on some of the seismic instruments in the area...oops.)

We made our way back to the zoo. It's definitely one of the nicer ones I've been to!

I thought it would be cool to get a picture of a Christmas tree in NZ to use as a Christmas card that we could send out. Little did I know that the only tree I'd see during the trip would share the frame with a big elephant butt. :)

This rhino must have liked having its picture taken; right after this it turned to the side and wouldn't move until I took a picture of it.

A bellbird. I spent most of my time on Stewart Island trying to get a good picture of one of these, but they move so fast it was impossible! This one thought the apple was the best thing ever.

We saw a couple little blue penguins hiding under an overturned boat...

...and a few meerkats posing dramatically.

This finch was trying to build a nest and kept picking up really big sticks.

We managed to spend most of the morning at the zoo, but we still wound up with a few hours left in the early afternoon. After a quick flip through our Lonely Planet book we decided to head over to MOTAT to check out their airplane collection.

This is one of the strangest planes I've ever seen. I can't imagine how it must handle in the air, and I don't think I'd want to find out!

Eventually we made our way back to Auckland and checked in for our flight. I think that's an A380 sitting at Gate 16.

As much as I wished we could stay longer, it was time to head back to the US. This 747 took off just before us and was heading for LAX.

Goodbye, least it was sunny somewhere that day!

Shortly after takeoff it was time for dinner. Mmm...lamb with rice and peas, an orzo salad, a warm dinner roll, cheese and crackers, and best of all, hokey pokey ice cream for dessert! Mark and I spent the flight back watching movies and trying to sleep (with no help from the screaming toddler two rows ahead of us...sadly, 747s do not have bomb bay doors to drop kids like that into the Pacific). We got back to SFO, cleared customs, tried desperately to figure out what day it was and what time zone we were in, then boarded our flight back to PHL. Thanks to the magic of the International Date Line, we arrived at PHL a mere 2.5 hours after we left Auckland. Right. :)

New Zealand was a great country to visit, and I'd definitely like to spend more time there in the future. The people were very friendly (and speak English, so no language barrier problems), the hotels were consistently nice, and the scenery was amazing. Even the air smelled nice. My only regret about the trip is that we couldn't stay longer!

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