With any luck, this link should work. It contains pictures of the trip to Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula that Dave and I took some weeks ago. It was a great deal of fun, and we learned the following:
- * Helen Clark was in the Koru Lounge (NZ equivalent of Maple Leaf Lounge) with us, but in a different part than the standard Koru Lounge riffraff (i.e. us)
- * We ran into a movie star on the plane! "Sione's Wedding" actor Robbie Magasiva was on the plane with us.
- * Auckland was lovely, and we found a great garden-mansion hostel to stay in. The weather was much warmer! The plants seem to like it better there too...
- * All-you-can-eat sushi buffets are a great idea... except for the being-so-stuffed-you-feel-like-you're-gonna-die part.
- * The roads in Coromandel Peninsula are downright scary. Sharp turns at top speed, teensy narrow roads, vanishing corners, major slopes, steep cliffs and hungry abysses, all at once.
- * Sheep are less scared of cars than they are of people.
- * Coromandel Town serves fresh half-shell oysters at $20 per dozen. You eat them while overlooking the body of water they were caught from that very morning.
- * Shiraz is called Syrrah here.
- * Coromandel Town is also known for its clay hills, used as a raw source for many local potters and sculptors. One even built a railroad into the clay hills, excavated clay along the way, and has since turned the railroad into a tourist attraction.
- * On the opposite side of the Coromandel Peninsula is a famous beach. At low tide, magma-heated water seeps upward through the sand, making nice, toasty pools of water to rest in. It needs to be mixed with normal seawater, however, as the heated water can actually burn one's skin.
- * A set of caves near Hot Water Beach include Cathedral Cove, an aptly-named cave with a gigantic opening and a massive domed interior. It is simply spectacular. Also, the sand on the beach is actually pink!
- * Calla lilies grow everywhere, wild and untended. Given that they are an incredibly posh, popular, and very expensive wedding flower, it's neat to see them growing by the roadside like weeds. Interestingly, they are the New Zealand symbol of women's suffrage.
- * Nearby Thames town, there is a greenhouse dedicated entirely to raising orchids and exotic butterflies. Witnessing them flying free is positively mesmerizing to watch.
- * The atlas moth has a wingspan of nearly a foot, and the beating of its wings has sufficient force to seriously disturb any unstable surface the moth may be attached to... such as a shirt.
Enjoy the pictures -- short descriptions can be obtained through clicking on the "Detailed" view. Let me know if this works for you!