Auckland, New Zealand - Day 2
We’re now into our second and final full day in Auckland. We leave this evening at 5pm for a short, 150-mile journey south. Having toured the entire city, we’ve seen only one police officer – driving alone in his squad car. This city by far, is one of the safest, cleanest LARGE cities we’ve ever visited. We have walked the downtown streets well past sunset, and many passengers have been out until the wee hours of the morning without incident. The residents here are very friendly – everyone we’ve engaged in conversation has been welcoming, sociable, gracious, and helpful. There’s quite an ethnic mix here – local natives are common, but also a heavy concentration of Asians. Economy is very strong, unemployment under 5%. Poverty is minimal – most homes here are $300K & up, several neighborhoods are north of $1m. Two major accounting firms have a big presence here; Deloitte, and Ernst & Young – hundreds of ‘preppies’ with their MBA’s walking the streets in their 3-piece suits. Not being critical here at all – both are great companies and I’ve done business with both – just painting a picture for you. Sheepherding is big here – in fact, there are ten-times MORE sheep than people – 45 million fuzzy animals vs. 4.5 million folks. We would live here without hesitation. Public streets are clean – most are lined with beautiful trees & shrubs – flowers, gardens, and parks are everywhere! The only downside here is cost of living – VERY expensive! We ate two meals off the ship – no, not exotic New Zealand fare, but our two favorite burger joints back home. Yesterday it was Burger King, today McDonald’s – price for two burgers, fries & small drink…$18! I wanted to buy a new pair of walking shoes – lowest price I could find for a good pair - $179 – thanks, but I’ll go barefoot for now!
We grabbed an early breakfast on the ship and off we went this morning. There are multiple islands around Auckland – we opted for Devenport, just a short 30-minute ferry ride from the city and highly recommended by the local folks. Beautiful small village with several boutiques. We walked along the beach for a couple hours, and then stopped at a local grocery store to pick up some New Zealand wine before boarding the ferry for the trip back to Auckland. After dropping off the wine on the ship, we ventured downtown again to get Cheryl’s glasses adjusted at an Optometrist, then pulled up a bench along the boardwalk and just ‘people-watched’. It was a beautiful 75 degrees, but chilly in the shade. We were back on the ship by 2:00, showered, and ready for the lifeboat drill at 4:00. Any time we have new passengers on board, we’re required by law to conduct a complete drill – we lost 80 passengers in Auckland and picked up 30 new. After the drill, we decided not to participate in the sail away party but instead, went to ‘happy hour’ at our usual late afternoon venue, the Ocean’s Bar. After one drink, the dinner bells were ringing – it was nice to reunite with our other 4 tablemates (after two days) and listen to their Auckland stories & adventures. We all did something a little different – it’s always interesting to hear the impressions & experiences of others. One impression we all came away with – Auckland & the people here are WONDERFUL – just a truly beautiful city and wonderful society. I’ll post additional pictures from our visit here when I have more time.
Next stop…Tauranga, New Zealand.