A quick recap of the last two days (December 28th and 29th) as we are on the way to Australia!
28.12.2013 - 29.12.2013 60 °F
After a very late evening returning from the Maori Village- (and Lisa/Steve staying up too late to watch a movie in the apartment…) we decided against a 2 hour drive to “Hot Water Beach” and instead stayed in Tauranga for some more exploring. While the town had many interesting shops, we really did not find anything of much value strolling around. Eventually, Max, Sam and Steve went to the waterfront to play some catch. We have managed to play ball at nearly every single beach we have been to so far.
After lunch, we went back to the main beach near Mount Maunganui and rented surfboards and wetsuits for the kids and Lisa. (I managed to swim pretty well without- the water temp was probably 65 degrees or so..) Everyone had a great time swimming/surfing/napping on the beach.
We decided to catch Mass at 5:30pm (we had missed Christmas unfortunately!) and that was a pretty interesting experience. Afterwards we went back to the apartment and had a simple dinner from our leftover food. While the kids watched a movie, Lisa and I packed up and planned out our Sunday. All in all, a bit of a restful day…
On Sunday, we woke everyone by 7am for an early start and it was absolutely pouring outside. Lisa started driving towards Auckland and for about an hour it was seriously slow going/white knuckle driving (we barely had enough road on the two lane highways to begin with and the rain really complicated things!). We had hoped to stop in Karangahake at some cool trails for an early hike but when we got there it was still raining- we had enough of a break to at least go across a hanging bridge…
Finally the weather started to break about halfway through our 2 ½ hour drive to Auckland. (Conveniently, I was driving!) We got to the City Centre at about 11:30, parked the car, and began to explore the city! We had a Subway lunch down by the harbor, which is huge and absolutely dominates the city… We really had no specific plans for Auckland, although we wanted to find out where the America’s Cup Boats (you can actually take a cruise on the 1995 winner) and so we walked along the harbor… We ended up not only finding where to sign up for the cruise (which we did) but also getting free admission into the Auckland Maritime Heritage Museum.
So into this museum we walked, having no idea how UNBELIEVABLY cool it ended up being! There were tons of exhibits, many with great hands on components for the kids… We did puzzles, we learned about how New Zealand was founded, we learned about the early vessels exploring the NZ coastline and some of the famous explorers of the past- but all of this paled in comparison to the incredible, multi-level layout of the history of sailboat racing in New Zealand. The America’s Cup winning team (from 1995) were absolute rock stars and we well memorialized in the museum. The sailing exhibits were varied and exciting, and we ended up spending almost 3 hours in the museum- with the kids pretty much enthralled the entire time! (also interesting was the history of the NZ beach house, and the invention of the “jet boat”) What a find!
After checking out a local rugby store and deciding on a few souvenirs, it was back on to the airport for our flight to Melbourne. We had a little bit of trouble at the check in (apparently you need a visa to go to Australia) but we managed and now the entire family is immersed in the interactive in flight entertainment on this flight.