Our First Day in New Zealand

We left San Francisco at 10 o’clock Sunday night, April 17th, and were on an Air New Zealand non-stop 12 hour flight to Auckland. We passed the International Date Line while we were snoring and they woke us up at 3:30 in the morning on Tuesday, April 19th, New Zealand time, to feed us breakfast. At 5am we touched down and an hour later we emerged from the airport terminal to be immediately greeted by the Super Shuttle lady. “I can take you to your hotel for 30 dollars,” she said and we hopped on board, still groggy.

The Hilton Hotel sits at the end of a wharf in the middle of Auckland Harbor.

The radio in the shuttle played music from the 60s — our music when we were in our 20s. We were becoming familiar with New Zealand all ready! I heard “Are you going to San Francisco?” and I asked the driver if they wore flowers in their hair in New Zealand. “No,” she said, “We leave them on the ground where they belong.”

The trip from the airport took a half-hour as our hotel was the last on the list and we arrived at the Hilton just before 7am. You don’t have to tip in New Zealand — only if they really deserve it. I though our driver really deserved it and so I tipped her.
Our room wasn’t going to be ready for several hours but the bellman from South Africa said we could store our luggage and the Persian receptionist gave us a couple of toothbrushes so we could freshen up in the fourth floor Exercise Center. The Chilean concierge suggested we go on a harbor cruise or perhaps visit Devonport across the bay. We opted for the latter and walked five minutes to the ferry terminal. My mouth was fresh but the rest of me was still groggy.

The Ferry Building (the orange-brown building in the center) is just a block from our hotel.

The ferries coming in were full of commuters but there were only a few of us going the other way. The trip across the bay took less than 10 minutes and we enjoyed viewing the Auckland skyline and our hotel from the water.

Auckland's skyline

Auckland is known as the City of Sails. One our of every three New Zealanders lives in Auckland and one out of every four Aucklanders owns a boat.

Devonport is to Auckland much as Sausalito is to San Francisco. In fact, it reminded me of Sausalito as I remembered it in the 1960s. Beginning to see a pattern here!We walked along the water’s edge for awhile and then walked up and down Victoria Road, Devonport’s main street, which was filled with quaint little shops and quirky little cafes. We browsed here and there and my wife stopped at a deli for a mid-morning wrap while I ducked into a cafe next door for my first taste of New Zealand coffee. The most popular type of coffee is Flat White and so I ordered one. It was strong and smooth and mixed with milk and I was less groggy than before.

tree in park along Devonport waterfront

war memorial monument in downtown Devonport

A block from Victoria Road in downtown Devonport

These homes have great views of Auckland.

Devonport from the ferry back to Auckland

We arrived back at our hotel around 1pm and our room was waiting for us. They gave us a room with two twin beds and a nice view on the fourth floor but we told them we really wanted a king bed. So they gave us a complementary upgrade to a beautiful corner room on the sixth floor with two magnificent views as the walls on two sides of the room were all glass and the balcony wrapped around the corner, accessed by either of two sliding doors.

The view from our balcony

Our main balcony with harbor view

Our "other" balcony with view of city skyline

Our harbor view

Our Hotel room

Our corner view

The jet-lag grogginess returned and we just lounged around our hotel for the rest of the afternoon and then decided in the early evening to explore the famous Viaduct Basin about a block away where you can view fancy yachts from one of more than a dozen fancy restaurants. We chose the Italian restaurant and had a pretty nice meal but the service was a little odd. We were early for dinner and there was only one other couple in the restaurant. But we still experienced long waits between ordering and serving. We had been there a half hour when I overheard the lady at the next table tell the waitress that she was still waiting for her spoon!

A Team New Zealand racing yacht in Viaduct Basin. New Zealand won the America's Cup in 2000 and again in 2003 but lost to Switzerland in 2007. One of the most memorable America's Cup races in the 20th century was in 1987 when New Zealand lost to Denis Connor's Stars and Stripes.

After dinner we decided to return to our hotel and retire early. It was overall a rather pleasant day after a long, long flight. Tomorrow, we told ourselves,  we will be ready for the rest of Auckland!

View from wharf near the Hilton's back door. A lot of the superyachts berthed in Viaduct Basin can be rented for harbor cruises.

The foot of our hotel's wharf near the ferry terminal. I had my first hokey-pokey ice cream (vanilla with bits of toffee) at this ice cream shop near the hotel. It's New Zealand's favorite flavor!

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About crowcanyonjournal

I am a family man with interests in family history, photography, history and travel.
Gallery | This entry was posted in Travel and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Our First Day in New Zealand

  1. kbaran01 says:

    Wow – I would love to go to New Zealand! These pics are amazing and it looks gorgeous! Thanks for posting!

  2. Thanks for visiting my blog. I hope you get to New Zealand some day. The country was beautiful and the people were very friendly. I enjoyed your blog, too, especially your articles on France. We are going back to Europe next year and plan to spend some time in Paris.

  3. mvschulze says:

    Nice images and enlightenment about one of the places we would love to see, someday…maybe. M

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