Saturday, March 28, 2015

Day 32 New Zealand - Rotorua to Auckland

Wednesday 25th March, 2015 - (GS47AL) Rotorua to Auckland via Waitomo incl Lunch
Transfer Type: Seat in Coach
Duration: 7.75 hour(s)
Pick up: 7:25am Millennium Hotel Rotorua , Rotorua , New Zealand
Drop off: 3:10pm SkyCity Hotel Auckland , Auckland , New Zealand

Enjoy a day trip from Rotorua to Auckland through lush rolling farm landscape to the mystical
Waitomo Glowworm Caves.

Up, packed and ready to go, once again. Our guide this morning is Shelly, a Maori. She is helpful, knowledgeable and fun.

We are first on the bus, yeah! We pick up an Indian couple who we had encountered somewhere along the way on another tour. We then pick up a couple who were at last night's dinner, although they don't recognize us. They proceed to sit on either side in the two rows directly behind us. This is a large tour bus and there are only two other couples aboard.
Then they have a rather loud conversation about where they will store their luggage in Auckland while waiting to go to the airport. How much more NZ money they may need. Then have sandwiches.

 Our mascot for the ride.

We start out in the fog as we drive through prime cattle country.

Shelly stops and says kia ora to these fishermen.

We pick up more fog.

Coffee break and John has a delicious sausage roll.

We drop a couple off before the caves.

After lunch enjoy a guided tour through the galleries and lofty chambers of the Caves. Your tour culminates with a boat ride through the Glowworm Grotto - lit up by thousands of tiny living lights.

We do the caves before lunch. No photography allowed in the caves for safety reasons. It is too dark and there are too many people.

This is a video talking about glow worms.

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves attraction is a cave at Waitomo on the North Island of New Zealand, known for its population of glowworms, Arachnocampa luminosa. This species is found exclusively in New Zealand. They are around the size of a matchstick.

The attraction has a modern visitor centre at the entrance, largely designed in wood. There are organized tours that include a boat ride under the glowworms.

After walking through the caves we boarded the boat where the guy beside me proceeded to whack the side of my glasses with the strp of his backpack while trying to put it on.

You are asked to be as quiet as possible while in the caves. It is a very hallowed feeling as you glide under the canopy of glowworms covering the ceiling like stars in a cathedral.

We were allowed to photo once we were leaving the caves.

We are the only people from our group that had lunch included with their tour. Shelly meets us and directs us to a reserved table. We browse the menu, not very hungry, it is only 11:30.

Shelly takes our wine order and then a meal is brought to us. It is a set menu. Steak and fish. And then dessert came!

We pick up a few more people at the caves for the journey to Auckland.

Continue your journey through to Auckland.

Kiwis are grown behind these privy hedges to protect them from New Zealand's persistent winds.

Coffee break.

Auckland, a city where one out of every six residents owns a boat, is nicknamed the City of
Sails. Sprawling across two large harbours, it is the largest city in New Zealand. As the main gateway to New Zealand, Auckland has a multi cultural population of more than a million people and is surrounded by expansive parklands and water.
Cultured and cosmopolitan, progressive and historic, Polynesian and European, accessible to
beaches and forests, adventure sports and leisure activities, Auckland offers something for everyone.

SkyCity Hotel Auckland

Duration: 1 night

Located on the corner of Victoria and Federal Streets, this hotel is located right in the centre of
the city close to all major attractions and shopping. Part of the SkyCity complex which includes a
casino, the hotel has 344 rooms of varying standards most of which have harbour views.

This is our last evening before we head back to LA.

This hotel is right smack in the middle of the city and right next to the Sky tower. Taken as we drive in.

We check in and ask for a late check out tomorrow. It is free until noon and then $28 until 4 PM. Perfect.  Dicky, taking our bags to the room assures us that he can get us the best price, for cash, to the airport tomorrow, just come see him in the morning.

Outside the hotel, which is across from the Sky City Grand Hotel are some restaurants with outside seating.

 We head out to do some exploring. This is a very hilly city much like Seattle!!
I stop into this wool shop and can't resist buying a merino cape.

Great location, bad wine. John even asked her if that was their house brand, as it was so bad and she said no.

KZ 1 was a sailing yacht used to challenge for the 1988 America's Cup. KZ 1 is now on display near the National Maritime Museum in downtown Auckland.

We climb up Queen St.

We decide to go for pizza at Da Vinci's around the corner from the hotel. It was excellent and the service was outstanding.

Fuzzy cell phone pics.

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