Monday, December 04, 2006

Adventures in Kiwi-Land - A Tired Day in Auckland

We finally arrived! And on went the sweaters! Soon would come the long pants! Yes, New Zealand was cold and dry! And we loved it, because we were sick and tired of 84 degrees, 80% humidity!!!
Our first challenge was learning to drive on the wrong side of the road. The steering wheel is on the right side of the car. You drive on the left side of the road. You pass people on the right. Your turn signal is on the left of the steering wheel, and your windshield wipers are on the right. The gear shift is on the left. So, every time I hit my right hand on the driver's side door, I was really trying to change gears. And every time I hit the windshield wipers, I was really trying to turn. I was all messed up!
But what was really hard was remembering to turn onto the left side of the road! If we were turning left at a stop sign, I would get the strong inclination to turn far out into the right lane. Wrong! And my first thought was, "what traffic is coming from my left side?" Wrong again! These thoughts almost got us into more than a few fender-benders. For some reason, we made it through.
Our first stop was "Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World and Antarctic Adventure." Jaydn loved this place! We first went on a tram ride through a large room filled with penguins! Then, we saw sting rays, sharks, and numerous other fun fish in a large walk-through aquarium. It was really dark, so I didn't get very many good pictures here.
Next, we headed over to the Auckland Museum. This place reminded me of three of the big Smithsonian museums in Washington D.C. in one building--it was huge! It never ended, and increased my appreciation for the creativity of people who put together museums!

That was about all we could do--except get lost. We were so tired! We had been awake on Saturday until about 2:00 am on Sunday, and then two hours later when we passed the International Date Line, it was Monday!! We had to wake up and go at it again! And without really good maps, we were so confused in Auckland, a city of 1 million plus people. I've been told that Auckland is the second largest city (by land mass) in the world. I don't know if that is true, but it sure felt like it!

So we got a good $30 map book, and made our way north to the Bay of Islands. This was easily the windiest, craziest road we had driven on in a long time. Add the fact that we were tired, and driving on the left side of the road, and we desperately needed a driving rest!

The Bay of Islands is situated off the coast of Paihia, which is a beautiful tourist town!! Our first hotel was the first of many backpackers. What are backpackers? Well, they are somewhat like hostels; they have a shared bathroom and shower area, and your room is pretty-bare bones. But they were nice--they had laundry, internet access, free use of kayaks and bicycles, and a full-service kitchen. Most of them also had a large screen TV with tons of movies. Nevermind that for us; we were so tired we crashed the instant we got the chance!! The next day was to be one of our funnest--Day in the Bay/Swimming with Dolphins.