Auckland

Day 31: Last full day of vacation!

Wow, can you believe it?  Our vacation is finally coming to an end.  We start heading home tomorrow and it will involve 22 hours of flying, plus layovers.  Should be an interesting day. And now 3/4 of us have colds….

This morning David and Jonas walked to a bridge to take pictures.   While they were on their walk I was tasked at figuring out the day’s plans.  I decided visiting the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) would be the most pleasing for the family as they have hands on exhibits.

We ended up taking a cab to the museum.  The museum had lots of interesting exhibits.  As we arrived at the museum Jonas spotted a tram and was immediately excited.  Even at his age, he still loves riding trains.  It always reminds me of my paternal grandfather when I see Jonas’s excitement with trains.

We toured the museum, then took the tram to another museum, the Aviation museum which is a part of MOTAT.  The kids ended up enjoying this museum more than the first one.  The aviation hall reminded me of a mini Udvar-Hazy center.  There was a military tank you could ride in and a train you could take a quick trip on.  I told the conductor that Jonas loves trains and he invited Jonas to ride in the front of the train when it returned to it’s original departing point.

After that museum, we then took a cab to a Belgium restaurant so the boys could enjoy a bucket of mussels.  They had that, I had french fries, and Rachel had an ice cream sundae.

Finally, to end our site seeing day I took Rachel and Jonas on a train ride on Auckland’s public transportation system.  We ended up riding on two different train lines.  You should see the growing list we have of cities around the world where the kids have ridden train systems.

We got back to the rental promptly at 6 pm, and then I started packing things up for our journey home tomorrow.  Our flight leaves at 7 AM, we need to be checked in by 5 AM, and the airport is at least 35 minutes away from our lodging.  I don’t even want to think about what time I need to get up tomorrow.  I hate to see what I will look like after all of that traveling….I hope I am able to sleep somewhat on the plane.  I think by the time we get home we will have been served Breakfast/Lunch/Breakfast/Breakfast.

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Day 30: Auckland

Once again, we had another leisurely day.  We started with everyone sleeping in.  It was pouring in the morning, so this turned out to be a good option.  Eventually we decided to take a ferry to the town of Devonport which is right across the harbor.

This was a nice little town to walk around.  We went though as we thought there would be antique stores close to the ferry terminal, but apparently the antique stores in Devonport are not that close to the ferry.  Instead of going into antique shops, the kids and I ended up climbing to the top of Mount Victoria.  It was not so much fun climbing up to the top, but it was worth the climb once you saw the views at the top.

After that we met back up with David.  We split up once again as Rachel and I had heard that the grocery store in town had gluten free donuts.  At times I have felt this trip is basically a big gluten free product hunt for Rachel and I.  Rachel managed to find the gluten free donuts :).  Then we met the boys for lunch.  As we were eating lunch, it poured once again.  Thankfully we were inside.  By the time we left the restaurant, the rain had stopped.

We caught the ferry back to the rental, then I took a very brief nap.  The kids and I ended up grabbing dinner from a restaurant across the street from our apartment, and David enjoyed the kid’s leftovers.  Rachel had trouble falling asleep, I think it is because she is so excited to come home and see our dog…

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Day 29: Auckland

The trip is rapidly coming to an end.  At this point half of the group has a cold.  Thus, we all slept in and then enjoyed watching the harbor from our rental.  While the kids were sleeping I trekked to a grocery store and picked up some groceries for the rental.

Eventually we ate lunch and then did an Auckland Harbor Cruise.  This was a nice little cruise as you went around the harbor and stopped briefly at the Rangitoto Island which was created from a volcano.

Our boat arrived back to the harbor a little after 3.  At that point Rachel and I went to do more souvenir shopping.  Then we met the boys back at the apartment.  The boys ended up eating a seafood dinner at a restaurant close to our apartment, whereas Rachel and I had Mexican and brought it back to the rental to eat.

Not a very busy day today, but a relaxing one!

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Day 28: Taupo to Auckland

Today (Thursday) we left Taupo and drove to Auckland. We stopped at a town called Tirau on the way which had some interesting buildings. One of the buildings had a sign out front that said History of Wool or something like that and I thought it was actually about this history of wool. Turns out it was just a shop selling wool related items….

After that stop we had a picnic lunch at a rest area, then we continued to Auckland. Once we were in Auckland we went to a store called the Elephant House. This store sells items that are made in New Zealand. I bought a carved wooden bowl (I have a thing for wood) and a price of glass with the New Zealand fern that is so prominent here. I could have spent a couple of hours in the store just looking at their things.

We still had a couple of hours to kill before we could check into our lodging so we ended up going over to Mount Eden. This is the highest point in the city. Once we got there half of our party did not want to walk to the top, so we decided to look for ice cream instead. We headed for the ice cream shop just as school was letting out as soon our car was surrounded by school aged boys and we had to dodge them on the way to get ice cream.

We enjoyed our ice cream. On our way to get ice cream Rachel saw a playground and she wanted to stop there. So after our ice cream we went there and the kids played there for about an hour…in a drizzling rain as well. Jonas even declared that it was a pretty good playground.

We then went to our rental which is on Princes Wharf in the harbor. Our final rental is a two bedrock place. It overlooks all the ferries coming in and out. It is very centrally located with great views. We ended up having dinner at a place near the water a few blocks away. Coming from less suburban areas of New Zealand it is nice to be able to walk around to find a place to eat.

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100 days to go

100 days to go, 100 days to dream. Time is seeming to fly super fast now. I have dreams regularly about our trip. I have a few smaller trips between now and then which will really make the time go by fast.

What is left to do? Well, most everything is paid for already in regards to lodging. The only places that are not fully paid for yet are our place in Nelson and our place in Auckland. I plan to pay for Nelson on May 1 and Auckland on June 1.  We also have one hotel room that we have not paid for yet. Other than that, all hotels/apartments have been paid for so we won’t have that expense when we return. That is usually the biggest travel expense and it has been nice to spread it out over the last few months.

Airfare – fully paid for. We bought our tickets over to Australia/New Zealand using frequent flyer miles so those were relatively cheap. But I had to buy flights within Australia and New Zealand. I bought those in the fall once I knew our itinerary.

In regards to car rentals – one has been prepaid and two I was not able to prepay. And honestly I can’t find a better rate than what I booked so those probably won’t be prepaid before we go. I can deal with that though.

Activities are mostly all booked and paid for. This month I can book our Alcatraz tickets (yes we are spending a day in San Fran before we go) and our Sydney Observatory tickets. Our lodging in Sydney is right next to the Observatory so we will do that one night. I have two excursions booked but I cannot pay for them yet as they could be cancelled if the weather does not cooperate. I call those excursions the Pandy Excursions. Pandy was my great aunt that passed away in November but she taught me that you only live once and sometimes in life you need to splurge. So those two excursions, if they happen, I will dedicate to her since they will be our splurges. In fact, my motto on our trip will be “What would Pandy do?”.

I still can’t believe we have reached the 100 day milestone. It seemed so far away when I booked our first plane ticket at 330 days away. My brother gets married in 33 days and then the kids get out for the summer in 71 days. Those two countdowns will make the countdown to our trip fly.

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