We had been in New Zealand for a whopping two days before we took our first jaunt out of Queenstown. My friend Aaron had flown from the US to Auckland for a speaking gig, and we decided that "so close but so far" was an unacceptable excuse and made the trip to cause some ruckus.
Queenstown Airport is pretty easy; I think we left our house 45' before our flight and had plenty of time to spare! The approaches and departures from ZQN are EPIC:
From bottom: A320, Wakatipu, Jacks Point, and Remarkables
Obligatory "space is big" photo
Once we made our way to downtown Auckland from the airport (considerably harder than Queenstown), we spent a little time wandering around before meeting up with Aaron and his dad Pete. While waiting in the hotel, the hustle and bustle was impossible to ignore, and it peaked when Angela Merkel and her entourage trotted by en route to do dignitary things.
Skycity Tower (dominates the Auckland skyline)
After a stunning dinner with friends old and new, good laughs all around, and a solid night's sleep, we awoke to a lovely weather day with high prospects for a pretty unreal opportunity: a helicopter flight around Auckland and out to Waiheke Island.
I should point out that this was my first time ever in a helicopter, and out of the four of us, I was the only newbie. I was STOKED!
Skycity Tower from above
Our pilot was kind enough to take us over some pretty cool stuff. Although, from low altitude, almost everything looks cool. Perspective is everything!
Our destination was Waiheke Island: wine mecca and weekend getaway for those from Auckland and beyond. Thankfully, it wasn't yet high tourist season, so we were able to move about a little more easily than we would have otherwise.
Of course, every island is beset with some oddities: on Waiheke it's that trash is just left on the side of the road for collection, and also that the roosters have been banished to a particular park and live like outcast bachelors.
Whatchu lookin' at?
Step to this, boy!
The holiday homes on Waiheke are ridiculous. There's amazing architecture, amazing lots, and ample space. We pulled over for a single quick photo of one of them. It's really a shame that places like this are unoccupied so much of the time; I'd volunteer to be a caretaker :) In that sense, it's really quite excessive.
Fortunately, most of the island is covered in lush greenery, modest homes, and cool little businesses. The holiday homes are hard to ignore but it's really a lovely island inhabited by friendly people from all walks of life.
Our time, unfortunately, was short, as there are only so many flights to Queenstown on any given day. We utilized about every form of transportation imaginable to get back to the airport, making our full logistik for the day taxi-helicopter-taxi tour-ferry-bus-flight-car. Not our typical day of transport...no idea how the rockstars can keep it up on tour.
Once we got home, we finally felt like it was OK to relax a bit and get used to our new locale!
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