Auckland is a great city ... I arrived there directly from Adelaide and really had a great few days. By coincidence, I met up with Susanna again who started touring around NZ around the same time as I started and met her parents too ... it's funny that we have to travel over 14,000 miles to meet people who live less than five miles away!

After being tourists for the morning, my first taste of Auckland was lunch with Sus down by the harbour followed by one of my favourite "adventures" - a three hour race between two America's Cup yachts ... absolutely fantastic experience. The next day we all headed to the Auckland Museum for the morning - this was a truly memorable experience. The museum is essentially split between the Maori and the War Memorial sections, each one amazing and poignant. I hope those panels with the names of those who sacrificed their lives in wars are never filled ... a sentiment which is recorded on one and in one of the photos.

Auckland is one of those places which tends to be a starting point for travel in New Zealand. Even though I only spent two days there, I got the feeling that much of it and its surrounding areas were undiscovered or missed by the tourists. It's not named the City of Sails for nothing and exploring the water and the close-by amenities is something I'm looking forward to doing next time I'm back.
America's Cup Yacht Racing
When I was researching the things-to-do for Auckland (and the entire North Island), the first definitive choice was America's Cup Yacht Racing - when I discovered that you could join a team and race two boats, then the decision was made straight away.

So for three hours on a lovely sunny day, two America's Cup yachts raced each other with both crews working the tourists to make sure you got a proper feel for what it's actually like. It was hard work, grinding away when told to do so but it was just as pleasurable enjoying the experience and taking control of the yacht heading back into Auckland ... absolutely loved it and I cannot recommend it enough. This afternoon on the water was definitely ones of my highlights and looking at the photos reminds me of fabulous experience.

And when I arrived back, to my surprise, I heard my name being called out (by Sus) and was introduced to her parents, Martin and Carol. We had a lovely harbourside meal that evening ... a great way to start the New Zealand experience.

A visit to Waikeke Island
Before lunch, we did some shopping and then headed across to the lovely Waikeke Island. It's about an hour by ferry from Auckland and it's lovely. After a brief lunch, we wandered around before I had to return to Auckland leaving Sus and her parents on the lovely Oneroa Beach.

One of my regrets of this trip is that I didn't spend enough time here as I later discovered the beaches, vineyards, museums, walks and general variety a small island can encompass. Next time ...

So after a short trip across to the island, I was heading back to Auckland as the next leg of my trip was about to start ... a drive to the Waitomo Caves awaited ...