After three days out on the ocean our first port of call was Auckland. We pulled in about one pm, which was wonderful as I could actually watch the ship going into the city. The port is right in the city which means we didn't have to catch buses in, we just stepped off the ship and were in the midst of Auckland CBD. The weather was a fabulous 24 degrees and a sunny day, which added to It being such an exciting experience to be up on deck 15 watching the buildings and land getting closer.
I have a cousin who is my Dad's brothers daughter, my first cousin, who immigrated with her husband and family to New Zealand from South Africa. As well as wonderful friends we grew up with in South Africa who also live in New Zealand. So between Mum and myself we organised to catch up with them in Auckland. Unfortunately we only had five hours in which to do so. My lovely cousins were waiting just outside the customs exit, which was magnificent as I haven't seen he for about 35 years or so. I was so excited, so when we finally spotted them it was fabulous. The plan was for me and Peta to go with them for lunch, and Mum was going to catch up with our other friends, then we'd join them for an early dinner before getting back on the ship.
I went off with my cousins and we left Mum, not far away from the place where she'd planned to meet up with our friends. I had a drink with my cousins and lunch, much talking and said goodbye to them after a couple of hours. Then I received a phone call from Mum. All had gone belly up and she proceeded to tell me that they'd never arrived! She'd contacted my brother in Sydney (as he'd gone to school with the friends son), and he got in touch with them to say Mum was looking for them. In the mean time Mum had caught a cab to their house, and they weren't home. She'd wondered if she'd gotten the dates mixed up, or if they were away? She continued to tell me that my brother had been in touch with them via email. and they were in the area looking for her, and hadn't found her. Two hours had gone by!!! One of the people that was meeting Mum took a while to find her, and eventually they did. I think it's because Mum is such a hottie and looks so much younger than her age. Perhaps for that reason they didn't recognise her? Once they did meet up, Mum said they were just going to an early dinner, and for me to come along. I had said to her that we were on our way to the Sky Tower and I'd join them afterwards.
By this time I was on my way to the Sky Tower, as I was determined to do something touristy in Auckland. I had done a fair amount of research online prior to leaving, and had decided that this was one thing I wanted to do. I didn't need a map as it was pretty obvious to spot amongst the buildings in the city as it is so tall. We just headed up the closest street to where we'd said goodbye to the cousins, and started to make our way there. I soon found out that Auckland footpaths are not wheelchair friendly, plus a lot of road and building construction was going on. As it was a Sunday it was fairly quiet in the city which made it easier to get around. I was driving on roads, cursing as I was being challenged by the cross country footpaths, and cutting through church carparks, not to mention the red light district of Auckland!!! Hilarious....a quiet district, but none the less, girlie bars and sooo much more.
It was quite funny as the staff have days when they can get off the ship when at a port for a few hours. When you ask them what they will do, they all answer "look for free wifi" so they can communicate with their families and friends. When I asked one of the waiters at breakfast that morning what he'd be doing, he replied "there is a great Mexican restaurant at the bottom of the Sky Tower, and he was going there with some friends". We actually came across that Mexican restaurant and yes it was a small eating place, it also had a sign on the window saying BEST SAFE SEX!!!! Mmmmmm...say no more! We laughed.
There were no directions as to where to go when we got to the base of the tower, and we had no idea where to buy the tickets from. I asked someone and they pointed us in the direction of the casino right next to the tower. We had to go into the casino, then down a few levels in the lift. Because I was in a wheelchair I had to go down to the under ground car park to get to the disability entrance to the tower shop and ticket counter!! We finally felt as though we'd completed our task on the treasure hunt, until we reached the shop. It was more like a supermarket filled with rubbish souvenirs. There were heaps of staff around, however no customer service, and no signs saying 'buy tickets here". Eventually we did find the counter, purchased tickets and were on our way. The lift ride up was fantastic as you got glimpses of the city because of the glass lift. Plus you could see a section of the floor which was glass. It was so fast, we were there in seconds. I am not afraid of heights so it didn't worry me, I got excited. As it was such a clear and wonderful day, we had a great view of the city. There were people getting ready to jump off the outside of the building (something you can do there), so we hung around to watch. It is something I have always wanted to do, so I was slightly jealous.
Afterwards we thought we'd better head back as time was ticking away, and I wanted to see our friends. We shot down through the back streets and the crazy foot paths, and arrived at the water front, again. When Mum and friends had finished their dinner, we finally caught up. It was fantastic! It brought back so many memories, was so great to see their lovely faces and meet their gorgeous children. We all talked at the same time and at a million miles, with the outcome being that they must come to Melbourne. After the photographs sadly it was time to head back to the ship. I felt sad that there just hadn't been enough time to spend with them, however we didn't want to be left behind, and the holiday had only just begun. Enjoy the photos :)
In a wheelchair permanently since early 2010 due to a disease called NMO. I am loving getting out and about in my wheels. My blogs capture my journey.