Day 4 – Auckland
G'Day Mate How You Going?
We started our day at the breakfast buffet, which is almost as expansive as the dinner, so had to try vegemite which we were told by my Australian piano parent we should give a try. You toast your bread, butter and then spread on the vegemite. It is a bit salty and now sold at Publix for $7 a jar. Well, we did what I always told my students about proper etiquette in trying new foods, and after my three bites, I will not be adding it to my cart at Publix, but glad we gave it a try. What is it? It is a fermented yeast extract; made from leftover brewers' yeast extract (a by-product of beer manufacture) and various vegetable and spice additives. It is very dark reddish-brown, almost black, in color, and one of the richest sources known of Vitamin B. It's thick like peanut butter, it's very salty, and it tastes like - well let's just say that it is an acquired taste!
Then on to our day’s tour. Auckland isthmus is the narrowest location in the north island between the mighty Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea. This is the area we traveled yesterday. We first stopped in Devonport village. It was one of those places you could peacefully sit in amongst the beautiful flowers and little shops that lined the street. What a far cry from the bustle of the city center of Auckland. A fourth of the population of New Zealand live in Auckland, and you can tell they just were not prepared for the million and a half people who reside here.
Then on to the west coast where the Tasman Sea’s mighty surf pounds onto the black volcanic sand, produced by the volcanic eruption of Lake Taupo in 186 AD. There are 38 miles of surf beach, and were the surfers out in force. There are a lot of isolated beach homes along the coast as well; great place for growing a “cash” crop if you know what I mean. It was also home to the gannets, about 1,200 pair. It was awesome to view all of the birds. We weren’t quite as close to them as we were to the albatross in the Falklands, but pretty neat just the same. This was fun to watch because many of the babies were just about to fly. You could see them go to the edge of the cliff and flap their wings. Then, you could see them look down at the pounding waves and imagine their thoughts, “You have got to be kidding mom. That is a long way down. What if these things I am flapping don’t work?” The older babies were mostly black compared to the baby-babies who were still covered in white fluffy feathers.
For dinner, we went to the Orbit restaurant which is on the 52nd floor of the Auckland Sky Tower. We made reservations seven months ago from home and glad we did. It takes a minimum of one month to get any type of table. Because we booked so far in advance we had a table for two right next to the window. With the dining room rotating 360° once every hour, we had amazing panoramic views of the city below. The food and service were both awesome. My favorite dish was my starter which was: “Braised free range pork belly, pan sealed black pudding, pork floss.” Now I won’t give details on what each item really is, but in my opinion, it was absolutely delicious. Loved it. Great night!
“Many of life’s failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up” – Thomas Edison
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Tom and Holly