Lancaster, PA, USA to Auckland, NZ
Sunday, December 10, 2000
Well, we’re underway! Pam and Carl took us to the airport where we said our good-byes. Then we boarded the on-time flight to Dulles where we made our first new friends of the trip on board. Janet and Ken Slagle were returning from a visit home to rejoin their Santa Cruz 52 sailboat, Aquila, berthed near Auckland. (Janet is retired from managing a radiology department in Harrisburg; Ken from IBM where, among other things, he dealt with Armstrong as a customer.) They had just completed a tour of the South Pacific and were planning on spending the summer in NZ prior to returning for another season in the South Pacific. We clicked instantly with Janet and Ken and the airport time between flights evaporated as we picked their brains and shared stories about sailing and other adventures.
Tuesday, December 12, 2000
The remainder of the air travel was uneventful, culminating in an Auckland touchdown that was just a couple of minutes behind schedule. After promising to find our way to the marina where Janet and Ken have their boat, we entered our rented car and with heart in throat, proceeded to drive on the wrong side of the road to our B&B on the other side of Auckland.
Chalet Chevron is a cozy enclave in the Parnell section of Auckland. After dropping off our bags and a quick shower we walked downtown. There we explored the waterfront area where the America’s Cup boats were berthed, had lunch in a delightful café and went up the Sky Tower for an overview of the city. Auckland impressed us as a pleasant city, reminiscent of a medium sized US city of the late seventies. It is practically surrounded by water and nestled among the remains of nearly fifty dormant volcanoes, making it hilly to walk, but especially pretty. The flora was, to us, surprisingly tropical.
After a bus ride back to the Chalet Chevron, we drove north, about 45 minutes, to Whangaparaoa and the Gulf Harbor Marina, where Ken and Janet have their boat. We found them without too much trouble and got the cooks tour of their beautiful boat. The SC52 might not impress many folks as a liveaboard cruising boat, but it works well for the Slagles. It is beautifully constructed and finished. Ken spent over four months helping with the actual construction in a sweat equity deal with the builder so he knows the boat extremely well. The interior is light and spacious feeling and they manage to keep the clutter to an absolute minimum, a real accomplishment in a liveaboard. The boat is pristine! As to the choice of the boat for cruising … it has made up to about 15 knots to weather underway. (Eat your hearts out, fellow sailors!)
Wednesday, December 13, 2000
We woke up to a beautiful, clear-blue sky and our cheerful hosts who promptly prepared us a full breakfast. Then is was down to Quay Street and aboard the ferry for the 20 minute trip to Waiheke Island. The island, quite large, really, is home to about 7,000 full-time residents. However, in about a week, the population will swell to about 30,000 when the school holidays begin. The Island is beautiful, even though it is well developed with mostly small vacation homes nestled among the natural trees and shrubs of the island. We took the bus north toward Onetangi Beach while we talked to Bob & Irene Crean who have two houses in the area and who filled us in on the “what to do” stuff for the day. After a walk on the beach and a lager at the local pub, we returned to Oneroa Village for lunch at Salvages, and a quick education in jade by a local artisan. He practices traditional styles and much of his work actually ends up in Japan. After a walk down to the beach at Oneroa we returned to the ferry for the ride back to Auckland.
We wandered the downtown shopping district where Bill’s sunglasses spontaneously shattered just as we passed the local Sunglass Hut. Poor Bill, he just had to replace the old ones, immediately, with a new pair of Maui Jim’s. We then headed back to the car for a scenic drive down the Tamakai Drive toward Mission Bay. The drive passes many beautiful parks, beaches and overlooks. Returning to Chalet Chevron, we cleaned up (not too well, mind you) and wandered the streets and small shops between Parnell and the District, a large park in Auckland. We ended up in a small Japanese restaurant where we were introduced to a taste of Japanese cuisine, Kiwi style, and guided by a couple of experienced locals.
- We noted a unique way to cover a bald spot in a restaurant in Auckland … you cover it with a tattoo … There’s still hope, Reichle, Yarnell, Stehman and Stetser, etc!
- Sure sign it’s an American at the wheel. Bill thinks he’s doing well with the driving, but hitting the windshield wiper switch when attempting to signal a turn is a certain giveaway that he didn’t learn to drive here!
- There’s never a problem when you’ve got a “personal” emergency need. Well-maintained public restrooms are everywhere.