January 26th After disembarking from the Odyssey we checked into our hotel - the Quay West - which we had stayed at in the past. We were assigned a harbour view unit on the 21st floor, but the room would not be available for several hours, so we started our first day in Auckland with a walk along Queen Street with all its shops and restaurants.
Our last visit to Auckland was three years ago and the renovations in the harbor area continued with new restaurants and shopping areas. Everything was noticeably more expensive than when we last stayed in the city, especially food. In part this is due to the weakness of the US Dollar to the Kiwi currency, but also to an increase in food costs in general. In fact, according to the local newspaper, food cost in Auckland is now about as high as anywhere in the world. Alas, we Americans have finally changed the customs here and tipping in the better restaurants is now expected. In the past we had been told in no uncertain terms by our Kiwi friends not to tip, but with the increase in tourism over the years it is now expected, especially from Americans. I asked at the hotel desk whether New Zealanders tip in restaurants, and the answer was a firm No!
Eleanor was very conscientious during our cruise and worked out on the treadmill every day. To put it bluntly I was too lazy, and as a result payed the price with muscle aches and pains as we began walking around the city. But - I know it is good for me and am determined to get back to swimming and walking on a daily basis once we get to Hawaii.
January 30th Monday the 30th was the Auckland Day Holiday. Sailboats dotted the Auckland Harbor and there was even an air show. We had ringside seats on our balcony. Auckland Day commemorates the arrival of William Hobson in the Bay of Islands in 1840. For more information click HERE
Our 10 days in Auckland went by too quickly. The weather was a bit cooler and windier than we would have liked, especially during the evenings. We did not venture out of the city and just enjoyed wandering about the city. A couple of times we took a bus out of the city center and then walked back to the hotel.
The restaurants in Auckland are really incredible. The chefs go beyond anything we experience at home or anywhere else in our travels. It is expensive - but worth it!
February 4th The ride to the airport went quickly and efficiently and we were well ahead of time for our 10:30 AM Air New Zealand flight to Honolulu on Saturday morning. We crossed the International Date Line and arrived in Honolulu on Friday, February 3rd at 8:00 PM!