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Trip Report Songdoc's 5th Trip to Gorgeous New Zealand: A Trip Report

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This was our fifth trip to New Zealand. Ostensibly, we were there to teach songwriting workshops, but the truth is that we chose to present the workshops in the "Land of the Long White Cloud" because we love it there. I travel with my life partner who runs my business. We’re 57 & 61.

For those who would rather look at pictures than read about the places we saw, here’s a link: http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=2QctG7hu0ZMNu

We arrived in Auckland May 28th after three wonderful weeks in Australia. (That’s been posted as a separate report.) Our accommodation was a 1-bedroom apartment at the Chifley suites—one block from bustling Queen Street, and a short walk to the waterfront. It cost $128/nt. We liked everything about the apartment—but a couple of times the noise was bad. Most nights, earplugs blocked the construction and traffic noise, but on our final morning we were awakened at 4:30AM by drunken singing on the street, five stories below. Sadly, for that reason I wouldn’t stay there again.

I only had one full day off in Auckland, and several partial days when I wouldn’t be working. On previous trips we’ve scheduled more time for vacation and visited the beaches west of Auckland, the Bay of Islands, Wellington, the Kapiti Coast, Queenstown, Milford Sound, Abel Tasman, and Rotorua. FYI, we loved Abel Tasman, and the area surrounding Rotorua so much that we’ve visited twice.

On our one full day off in Auckland this time a dear friend (who coordinates our business in NZ) took us on a Discovery 360 boat from Auckland Harbour to Tiritiri Matangi Island, a wildlife and bird sanctuary with a number of rare and endangered species. It was a pleasant 45-minute boat ride, including a stop in Gulf Harbour to pick up additional passengers. Besides being a beautiful place to spend the day and walk, “Tiri” (as it’s referred to) is a bird lover’s paradise, with tuis, fantails, owls, silvereyes, grey warblers, bellbirds and spotless crakes. The fantails were incredible, flitting so close to us we were afraid we might step on one. We’d packed a picnic lunch and ate while watching tuis at their feeders. It was a relaxing, wonderful day.

During a couple of additional free hours we enjoyed wandering around Albert Park, as well as the Domain, with its walking paths, greenhouses, and fountains. It’s across from the Auckland Museum, but we didn’t have enough time to go there.

Food: We had a very good meal at the Ironwood Café in the trendy Mt. Eden area (where our friend lives), but most of our meals were at the food arcade in Ponsonby. There were more varieties of authentic, inexpensive Asian food than I could have imagined, and we enjoyed all of the meals we had there.

Before I leave Auckland I’ll mention that the conventional wisdom seems to be that you fly into Auckland—and immediately leave. IMO, there are plenty of nice things to do and beautiful places to see in and around Auckland. But most people have a very limited amount of time in NZ, and the truth is that in terms of scenery, Auckland doesn’t compare with places like Queenstown—and that’s what I think most people visit NZ for. It's a perfectly fine city--but not on par with Sydney-or even Wellington. Sorry Auckland ...

To be continued …

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