Summer time always brings back memories of our trip to
Auckland, New Zealand exactly 4 years ago.
I, Tina and our then 4-month old son Gabby arrived in the City of Sails 2 weeks after my parents flew there for a sponsored vacation by our relatives (who all transferred to Melbourne, Australia after living in Auckland, NZ for more than a decade). The main reason why we didn’t fly there together : I got Varicella (read: chickenpox). Yeah, right, I’m so late bloomer. I only got infected with that vesicle-causing virus at my 29th year. Luckily, those lesions errupted 4 days after my Oath taking as licensed physician then.
I remember vividly how I was received by my nieces there. The eldest daughter of my first cousin greeted me, “Hi, Spotty!” Ouch! After 2 weeks of healing, the scars on my face were still apparent but thank God I was not quarantined in any airport stop-overs we had.
We were advised by my cousin to get a flight to Auckland via Royal Brunei Airlines. By being obedient, we got a chance to stay over night in a hotel (included in the flight package) & toured Bendar Seri Begawan, the city capital of Brunei Darussalam the next day.
Brunei was enticing! With all of its greens around the city, the abundance of gold in the mosques, & the calmness of the city at dawn, we were drawn to the experience.
Considered as one of the grandest monuments to Islam in the whole region, the magnificent Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque is the brainchild of His Majesty the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah and Yang Dipertuan Negara Brunei Darussalam.
With our “sometimes-jologs- lifestyle”, who would have thought that we’d been to THE EMPIRE HOTEL in Brunei already, one of the grandest hotels in the globe. It was part of the half-day city tour that we availed from another hotel where we stayed during our 1st stop over.
(read : JOLOGS as defined in wikipilipinas as “pathetically cheap & corny sometimes equated to baduy, OUCH!!! definitely NOT us!, well, sometimes, lol)
From Manila, it took us more or less 3 hours to get to Brunei. We had an overnigt stay in Brunei Hotel & had half day city tour the next morning. At around 2PM, we were brought to the airport & boarded Royal Brunei airlines again to Auckland via Brisbane, Australia. It took us around 7 hours to land to Brisbane from Brunei for a 2 hour-stop over.
Then after a brief aircraft transfer from Brisbane Airport, we flew another couple of hours to our main destination for our 7-week vacation : AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND.
We officially arrived in the City of Sails minutes past 3 in the morning.
I can still recall the less than 12 degrees celsius morning breeze we experienced on our first step to the land of the kiwis. We were fetched by our parents & relatives and few hours after, we hit the road for some sight seeing and toured the downtown like we didn’t have jet lags…
FIRST DAY: “walang sinayang na sandali-citytour!…”
translation : “As-if-there’s no tomorrow city tour!…”
After seeing the WINTER GARDEN PARK, we ate breakfast “pinoy style” with “baon” in our vans and headed straight to AUCKLAND MUSEUM for a quick grasp of the MAORI CULTURE…
With no clues whether they eat live people or whatever, we posed beside MAORIS inside the Auckland Museum. Their attitude towards tourists was warmer than the weather.
DOWNTOWN AUCKLAND …
HALF MOON BAY…
We tried going to downtown aboard the FULLERS FERRY from HALF MOON BAY..
Ofcourse we found time to give THANKS for blessings HE continuously showers us!
I honestly admit that like most people out there, I too, expected that NEW ZEALAND was only a country of cows and sheep but boy, I was all wrong!!! AUCKLAND is more urbanized than MAKATI City here, at par with Hong Kong and probably New York City. The very modern lifestyle in Auckland is due to the british influence of course.
MALLING was always a part of our Auckland experience. There was WESTFIELD MALL where we munched NZD 7 each per combo meal of chinese food and BOTANY MALL which was only a 5-minute bus ride from TE IRIRANGI Street, where we stayed for almost 2 months…
However, just like most provinces up north here in the Philippines, the night life in Auckland ends at around 5 in the afternoon. Yes, you read that right, every establishments including malls close an hour before 6PM. Thursdays were exception. Malls were open until 9PM latest.
Inspite of the urban lifestyle one can enjoy in Auckland, MOTHER NATURE was still at HER BEST!
We went to AUCKLAND BOTANICAL GARDEN one weekend where entrance fees were FREE!
At least we also experienced where Prime Minister Helen Clark put the taxpayers’ fees into use.
We boarded another ferry ride and went to WAIHEKE ISLAND, where vineyards and wineries served as tourist attractions. It was a whole day in the island, and we rode buses to explore it, but sadly we got lost! We just found ourselves enjoying pizza at an italian resto in the island before hitting the ferries again back to Auckland.
Our cousins also drove us to NORTHSHORE, a northern part of Auckland where ships and ferries dock from wherever. This shot was taken at PUPUKE LAKE
(yes, you read that right again! If you’re pinoy, you got what I mean)
We also enjoyed KELLY TARLTON’S OCEAN ADVENTURE
where we appreciated seacreatures from piranhas to stingrays and sharks to adorable penguins !!!
SEVEN WEEKS and we headed back to Manila
but never missed to take a shot of SKY CITY TOWER,
the landmark of the City of Sails….
We went to its lobby but did not go up to the main restaurant and viewing deck
at its top… At least we have reasons to go back some other time… SIGH…*-*