Thursday, March 7, 2013

Auckland - The beginning of the end

Well, to be honest, I didn't really plan for the last destination of our trip - Auckland.  I guess I figured we would have plenty of time on the vacation to do that.  I was wrong, but I did have an enjoyable time in Auckland.

We originally received our disembarking time, and as I am not really a morning person, it was way too early in my opinion (just after 7 a.m.).  I was able to change this to the latest disembarkation time available for people with independent transfers.  Unfortunately, I didn't realize that we had to be out of our staterooms at 8 a.m. regardless of our disembarkation time.  If I would have realized this, I would have probably tried to get a time soon after 8 rather than 9:40!  It wasn't too bad waiting, though, as I had a book I was reading on the kindle.
Goodbye, Diamond Princess.  I will miss you.
Once we did finally disembark the ship, our first task was to figure out what to do with our luggage.  We ran into a nice man who gave us some information, and we headed to the local iSite which does store a limited amount of luggage in their back room.  We arrived there just in time, as there was just enough room for our bags.  I believe he also said that luggage could be stored at the Auckland subway.  We stored three large bags, and were allowed to place personal items/smaller bags on top of the large bags and still only count them as one bag.  The charge was $10/bag.  The caveat was that the isite closed at 5 p.m. so we had to pick our bags up by then.

Airport transfer tip:  The cruise ship offered an airport transfer of $40/person.  We were able to arrange for an airport transfer that was less than half that price ($16 nz/person?) and that shuttle ran every 15 minutes from the harbour.  It was probably also cheaper than a taxi, as the airport is quite a ways from the Harbor/Downtown Auckland.

After storing our bags, we wandered around searching for a McDonalds or some other location that offered wifi access.  We ran across a mall that had a McDonalds, unfortuately it did not have wifi access, but another restaurant in the food court had wifi access and we were able to use it (after a small purchase).  We had also picked up some brochures of things to do around Auckland and perused them.  At this point is was probably approaching 11 a.m. and I really wasn't feeling like a field trip out of town (especially since we had to pick up our bags by 5), and not much in town was striking my fancy.  Eventually, we decided on the Auckland Museum (even though earlier I said I was kind of sick of museums in general - not from this vacation but just from life in general).  After seeing the museum, I was glad I changed my mind.  As a side note, I recognized several cruise ship staff at the Mall's food court.
The streets of Auckland
To get to our destination, we decided to utilize the public bus system.  This worked out pretty well, as we looked up which buses went to the museum online.  Finding where to catch the bus was a different matter, but we ran into the man who had helped us earlier, and he helped us again.  We found the bus station, asked the bus driver to tell us when we were at our stop, since the stop was not right at the museum and required a bit of walking.  It turns out this was unnecessary, as they do announce the stop as the Auckland museum.  After disembarking from the bus, we took a short hike (maps do not show hills) to the museum.  We secured tickets to the Maori cultural performance, and looked around a bit until the cultural performance was to begin.
A map from the bus stop to the museum (if we would have taken this bus - we took the INN instead, which had a different bus stop, but this illustrates how helpful the Auckland transport website is.

The first exhibit we visited was something like "wearable art" or something like that.  It included clothes, mostly dresses made from a number of different materials.  The clothes had an artistic component to them, thus the title of the exhibit.  Below are a few examples:
This is made from the metal of some sort of car part (was it a carburetor?)
This dress was made from wood

The "armor" was made from suitcase leather

After that exhibit, we went to an exhibit on childhood.  It included items that showed what childhood was like through different decades.  It also included a full-sized elephant that had been preserved by a taxidermist, and a tree house.  It was getting close to time for the performance, so we returned to the meeting place.  After a couple of minutes waiting, I decided to ask the information desk if we were in the right place.  They said that they had already been out to pick up those with tickets to the exhibit, and were very helpful in getting us into the performance before it began.
The elephant in the museum
I actually quite enjoyed the performance.  I've actually never been to any other cultural performances to compare it to.  I have seen the haka, and I was glad that the performance was more than just dances and songs, there were live narratives, and it included information about different instruments and recreation activities performed by the Maori culture.  The performance was only 20-30 minutes total, but I found it very informative and fun to watch.
The only real negative I found with the performance was that it took place inside a museum building
After that, we made it through the rest of the exhibits on the floor (including some on the Maori culture) and on the next floor of the museum.  Due to worries about time, however, we didn't make it to the top floor of the museum which primarily dealt with war-related exhibits.  It would have been nice to make it to those exhibits, but we also wanted our luggage back.

We began our trek back to the bus stop, where we met other Princess cruise ship passengers.  These passengers were on the either the Dawn Princess or the Sun Princess, (whichever one was also in port).  They had just started their cruise a couple of days earlier in Brisbane.  We had a nice little chat with them as we waited for the bus to arrive.  On our bus trip back to the Port, we were able to observe an interesting verbal exchange between the bus driver and another bus passenger regarding the timeliness of buses.  Poor bus driver.  We departed the bus a few stops early (my fault) but we were still in the same general vicinity we wanted to be in.

These are the roots from a couple of trees we passed on our walk to and from the Auckland Museum

We then found our way back to the iSite to pick up our baggage and get tickets for the airport shuttle.  We then visited a subway restaurant for nourishment (and to spend the rest of our New Zealand money).  It was located inside a store that had a breathalyzer machine, so of course we took a picture.  We found the airport shuttle, and I was glad we had chosen to take it, instead of a regular public bus (if that was even a possibility) to the airport, especially during rush-hour.

Now, our flight was not that night, but the next morning, but our hotel was near the airport.  So, we took the shuttle to the airport, and then took the hotel shuttle from the airport to the hotel.  It did take us a bit of time in the airport, and a visit to the airport iSite, to learn that the hotel had a contract with the Park 'n Ride shuttle.  We were able to find where the shuttle picked people up, and we made it to our hotel.


Beee said...

Thank you for the report on your trip. As I highly doubt I will ever make it Down Under, I really enjoyed your description. Thanks again for picking up that necklace for me.

GG said...

Amanda, Thanks for the posts about the trip. I would not have got it done. I really appreciate it.

Marissa said...

I never thanked you for posting about your trip. I definitely would love to go there sometime. The Maori culture was always one of my favs to learn about. Thanks for all the great pics and posts!