Cramming It All In

Location:  Auckland, New Zealand

Today was our last day in New Zealand and Polynesia. So it’s only appropriate that we try to get as much done before the ship leaves at the end of the day. Today we took another jam-packed tour that left way-too-early in the morning.

Our first stop was the Gannet Colony. Gannets are the second largest seabird in the world. They are pretty rare, and only live in Sydney and a couple places in New Zealand. This morning we saw there spring/summer nesting location. Rachel got some fantastic pictures.

A view of the Gannet Colony on the west coast northern Auckland.
A Gannet flying in the wind.
A close up of a Gannet

Nearby Ryan went down to Muriwai beach. What made this beach really unique though was that the black sand was especially fine (think baby-powder or silt) and has a very high iron content. You could literally pick up the sand with a magnet!

Our next stop took us to the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. We walked along an elevated boardwalk path to see the treetops of the rain forest.

In Waitakere Ranges National Park. Overlooking Manukau Harbor.

Afterwards we took a train ride through the rainforest to near the top of the Upper Nihotupu Dam. The train was especially tiny. It was originally built to transport rocks from a quarry to fill the dam about 80-90 years ago. Today its used to help inspect and maintain a water main that transports water from the dam to Auckland. The train had to pass through man-dug tunnels and tight cliffside corners, pass over narrow bridges; all while giving a nice view of the ground and treetops of the forest. From the end of the 40 minutes train ride was a 0.7 km walk to get to the top of the dam. It wasn’t a tough climb, but we were rewarded with some great views and strong winds. On the train ride back through, they engineer turned off the lights in two of the tunnels allowing us to see some glowworms on the ceiling.

The ‘Rainforest Express’
On the train
On the train
Our roomy train car.

Our final stop was to a local winery. We toured the vineyard, tasted some whites and were served a nice (late) lunch. Afterwards we made our way back to port. The last thing we did was pick up the usual tourist junk. Ryan got a spiffy kiwi Hawaiian shirt.

Tomorrow is another day at sea, with the Australia portion of the Honeymoon ahead!

Word drops: 1

Pictures taken so far: 5183

Auckland sky line seen from the ship.
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