Thursday, March 12, 2015

We Are Off On Our Land Cruise!

A view of Auckland harbor from the Sky Center where
we had a great lunch in the revolving restaurant.
After many months of ocean cruising, it has been nice to be on land for a while. We had a "air cruise" around the world in December and January to visit all five children and five grandchildren. It was wonderful - especially being in hotels with big bath tubs as I love a long soak. We only had two weeks back on the boat before my sister, Vicki, and her hubby, Larry, arrived to join us on a "land cruise."

The basin beside the Maritime Museum
I spent a week researching and making reservations for what Larry called a "trip of a lifetime!" I hope it lives up to his expectations as I am not a travel agent. As a result, I have a good understanding of New Zealand geography and topography. This is a mountainous country and you have to travel back and forth across mountain ranges with many switch backs. The speed signs on the curves range from 85 km all the way down to 15 km - now that is a real hairpin turn! Remember these are kilometers per hour, not miles, so that is practically walking speed.

Can you tell we are sisters?
While their roads are good and well maintained, they are mostly two lane and very narrow. Most of the bridges are one-lane so you have to approach slowly to make sure it is clear to cross. And - they are very narrow. There is only about 6-8 inches of space on each side of the van between the vehicle and the railings! Tight squeeze, to say the least! Several of the bridges serve both vehicles and trains so you have to be alert when approaching the single lane bridges. And very nerve-racking for both the driver and the naggravator! (That is my word for myself: navigator and aggravator, as I do both!)

We will spend our time with Vicki and Larry mostly on the South Island with a couple of interesting stops on the way down to the Wellington where we will take the ferry across Cook's Strait. I never realized how much Vicki loves speed boats. They have one on Grand Traverse Bay. Of course, we take a slower method under sail. She wants to do the Jet Boat rides that are popular here in New Zealand.

Waiting for the ferry.
We did spend a day in Auckland and enjoyed the Maritime Museum. It has wonderful displays of many of the super yachts that raced in the America's Cup, Whitebread and Volvo Around the World Races. Actually, the Volvo racers will be in Auckland when we are in the South Island. Sorry to miss the big party in town!

Lunch was an experience as we went to the top of the Sky Tower. The tower attracts nearly 1,200 visitors a day to experience the Sky Lounge (Level 50), Main Observation Deck (Level 51), Orbit 360 Degree Dining (Level 52), The Sugar Club, Skywalk and Sky Jump (Level 53) and the Sky Deck (Level 60). The restaurant level was enough for us.
It was a long day - of fun and family plus silliness!

It is a nice revolving restaurant with great food. The ride up and down offers a thrill, but the biggest thrill is when the Sky Jumpers come flying down past your window. It is totally unexpected and makes you notice! There were a few crazies jumping that day! The jump is 192 meters (630 ft.) and they can reach up to 85 miles per hour. Not for me!

Enough sightseeing for the day so it was time to catch the late afternoon ferry back to Gulf Harbour. It was very crowded as the commuters were returning to the Whangaparoa Peninsula.

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