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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Waiakere Range & Arataki Visitor Center

Yes- I am the biggest blog slacker! I had NO idea I'd been more swamped, more behind, more traveled, more worked, more busy, more late than I've been these last 2 weeks. I'll just get on with our trip when I can. Our first full day of vacation, we started out with a full day tour around the Auckland countryside. We had about an hour before, so we wandered around the city near our hotel. The first thing we stumbled upon was this beautiful old cemetery.

This picture really does it more justice- its a very steep drop off & a lovely little park right next to the freeway.

Auckland is New Zealand's largest city, with about only 1 million people. I'm pretty sure there are more than that just on my side of town in Houston.

Walking around, we ran into everybody headed to work & school on a Monday morning.

This quaint little area was like walking back into the 1950's.

Everything was so clean! These pedestrian areas were nice, wide and shaded.

The Baptist Tabernacle was not something I expected to see here.

The arcade added to the 1950's feel...

...and I loved that the inside stain glass was an invitation to find the park behind the arcade. You can see the green peeping out where the stairs drop off.

We found an awesome little open urban area & our first peek at the Auckland Sky Tower. It too drops down very steeply & as we headed back to the hotel, there was access to it from a variety of streets.

A super friendly couple out walking their dog offered to take our picture after seeing us struggle with the timed self-portrait.

I'd booked a full day tour (the Waterfalls & Wine Tour ) with Auckland Wine Trails & within a few minutes of leaving the city, we were making our first stop at Waitakere Ranges Park & Arataki Visitor's Center, which offered stunning panorama views.

And of course the perfect shot!

This is towards the west coast, so we could even see the Tasman Sea.

It is a lovely visitor's center with tons of information & educational stuff about the rain forests. There are large viewing decks & we got to see some nature up close- I was fascinated by this peculiar pine cone.

We heard lots of cicadas & even saw this guy up close!

I hadn't really thought about it, but I quickly learned that much of New Zealand is a rain forest. Not the hot steamy kind like you'd find in South America or Africa, but a cooler type. I loved all these trees- they looked like giant palm trees with ferns for leaves.

Not sure why this is edited to dark- maybe my travel laptop is calibrated poorly. We really enjoyed this stop & it's a great place to get our first lesson on the New Zealand landscape and biology.

GOOD NEWS OF THE DAY: Living room ceiling is replaced, island has been rebuilt, measuring for granite top & WE ARE GOING FISHING!

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