This evening I finally met the other participants and the guide of my New Zealand adventure. From the information that I got earlier I knew that most likely most of them would be from Germany or German speaking countries. To be honest, that was not what I had been expecting when I booked a tour from a New Zealand based organization and I had been hoping for some international group.
But that was still some hours from when I got up in the morning and until the first meeting with my guide who was supposed to pick me and my luggage up at my current hotel and take me to the hotel in which I would have to stay one more night before the tour really would start.
Auckland Domain and the Auckland War Memorial Museum
Since the weather had not improved during the previous night – rather the opposite as the clouds had darkened and it had been raining a little bit every now and then – I decided to take a walk to Auckland Domain and the Auckland War Memorial Museum in the morning.
Despite its name, the exhibitions are not only about World War II and the New Zealand war heroes of that time, but much of the museum is devoted to the history of New Zealand. The walk to the museum is not restricted to a pavement walk, but will be in a park for about half the time.
I used my chances to take more photos of the botanics during my walk, which made the walk more enjoyable but also much more time consuming than what I had anticipated to start with.
Unfortunately, when I finally arrived at the museum I realized that I had only a little more than an hour left before I had to make my way back to meeting the guide at the hotel on time.
So I was unfortunately not able to go through the entire museum, as that would have probably taken at least four or five hours, but at least I was able to see some of the exhibits from the Maori heritage. I got permission to take photos inside the museum as long as I did not publish them, so unfortunately at this point I cannot share photos of the beautiful Maori carvings on the Waka or the Wharenui that they have in their exhibition with you. I just wished I had had more time to spend there.
Relocating in Auckland
Way too soon I had to leave the museum to make my way back to the hotel, where I arrived just in time to meet my guide. Or maybe not meet my guide after all? While I was waiting for her to arrive, she called the hotel and had them get me to the phone to tell me that she was not going to make it in time for our meeting. But she would eventually get to the hotel and pick up my luggage, so all I needed to do was to make my way to the new hotel by myself and enjoy the rest of the time before the group meeting at 5p.m.
Too sad I did not know that earlier, or I would have spent way more time at the museum this morning. Going through town again was this time not as enjoyable as it had been on Saturday as it was now raining, but still warm, so you got wet from one side or the other anyway. Soon I had made the decision to go to my new hotel and find out how I would like that. — Well I did not like it as much as I liked the first one, but then it is only for a night, so who cares anyway?
Just after I had finished a refreshing shower my phone went off. My guide was on the other end. She told me to meet her at the elevator to get my luggage from her. But when I met her she only had my suitcase, so I asked her if my bike and the bike bag were in the car. She gave me a look of not understanding a word of what I just asked for, which can only mean that my bike and the bike bag are still at the other hotel as they did not hand it out to her. So now our evening’s sight-seeing tour is to be extended so that I can pick up my bike.
Everything got sorted out eventually.
First meeting with the group
At 5p.m. I met my new group in the hotel lobby. One of them was talking a lot to the guide — I wondered who he was, maybe a second guide after all? Well it soon turned out that we are 12 participants and one guide. 10 are from Germany, and one from Switzerland, and the one I thought to be a second guide turned out to be our American participant. We’ll see how that turns out.
Soon after the first meeting and handshaking with everybody we started our bus tour through Auckland. Our first stop was at the Auckland harbor, close to the famous Auckland harbor bridge. I was trying to get as close as I could to see if I could get a good photo, but there was no chance for that. And unfortunately regulations don’t allow you to cross it on your feet — they just allow you to bungee-jump. On my way back to the bus I spotted this nice view of the skyline of Auckland:
When I arrived back at the bus our American guy asked me to take his photo. No problem. I will eventually take it a couple more times during this trip. Soon everybody was back on the bus and we were on our way up to Mount Eden, driving up Queens Street again and only adding one more stop to get my bike from the hotel. It turned out the American guy has some clue about bikes as he had a quick look at mine, telling me afterwards that I have what he would call a bomb proof bike. Good for me — I am just glad at this point it does not weight as much as an armored car or it would be a nightmare to get it on the bike trailer every night.
Off we went on our way to Mount Eden. We were pretty much following the roads that I had ridden my bike on just yesterday, and before late we found ourselves in the parking lot being asked to find our way up to the mountain top, as our guide is not allowed to park the bus on the top of the mountain. One might think what a pity that I did not visit another spot in Auckland yesterday, but actually it was good to be here the day before, because the weather was nicer then.
After our little climb and some time to enjoy the view from Mount Eden, we went back to the buss to see more of Auckland from the bus window, before we parked the bus for the evening and made our way to the restaurant where our guide had booked a table for the first group’s dinner.
Tomorrow we will ride our bikes for the first official time.