Reunited And It Feels So Good

Today was going to be a grand day no matter what happened. Why? Well, today we would be meeting Doug’s parents, aunt, and uncle who would be joining us for the next 10 days on a tour of New Zealand. Family time!

We had a harried morning after a later than desired night due to some laundry issues, leading us to wake up when we just weren’t ready. Luckily, Cat and Wiggles were there to ease the suffering. We had some breakfast with our wonderful hosts, Nick and Angie, before packing up the car and saying a heartfelt goodbye. Being a part of this family for three days was a good deal of fun and we would miss their company (and guidance on all things Kiwi).

The drive to Auckland was longer than intended due to traffic and some construction slowdowns, but we made it around 11 a.m. The hope was to quickly say hi to Doug’s family, drop our bags with them at the hotel, then return our rental car, but all did not go as planned when we weren’t able to find parking easily. Google took us to the hotel’s entrance on Queen Street, which didn’t have a valet/drop-off area so we search nearby roads trying to find street parking before settling on a garage. The thing about this garage was that it was likely the tightest garage we have ever seen and we didn’t find a spot until the 17th floor. So, our quick trip to say hi and drop of our things had now turned into an hour after we finally parked and did said things. But that was OK because Bruce, Judy, Sue, and Phil were in New Zealand!!!!

Let’s now introduce you to the cast of characters to be present over the next 10 days. Judy is Doug’s mom and the one responsible for convincing Doug’s dad, aunt, and uncle to come here for a nice long holiday (this is International Lynn speaking). Bruce is Doug’s dad who was initially hesitant over the long flight but made it through with the help of Economy Plus Air New Zealand seats. Sue is Doug’s aunt and Judy’s sister. Her and her husband, Phil (Doug’s uncle), were convinced to join us by Judy which didn’t seem too difficult since they are both retired and enjoy traveling very much. All four have been avid readers of our blog leading up to this trip and we hope to have them guest blog at some point during the week. So, look forward to that.

After the brief reunion, we agreed to meet in 30 minutes time at the Ellerslie train stop to visit some city sites on foot. They ended up making it there a good 10 minutes before we finished dropping off our car (thank you, traffic), but were able to sort out the meet-up and joined them a short while later up the road. We spent the next 45 minutes walking through Auckland neighborhoods towards our end goal: One Tree Hill. Nope, this is the not the TV show starring Chad Michael Murray. It is the second largest hill in the Auckland area, offering a wonderful 360 degree view of the city and encompassing harbors. The walk to the hill was lovely, not so much for the sites, but instead for the chance to catch up with the four of them on everything that had been going on in their lives while simultaneously being picked on for not appreciating Handel’s Messiah (Note: We still stand by our convictions, even if it makes us uncultured).

We arrived at the base of the hill at the edge of a cow pasture to see the obelisk at its peak and realized that we still had a ways to go. We followed a nice paved path through the fields, up and over stiles, past grazing cows, and beneath Kauri canopies before reaching the information center. By now we were all in need of something to keep us going so we had family ice cream time! It seems we are not the only ones who like ice cream.

We see you, One Tree Hill, but where is the tree? Oh, chopped down.
We see you, One Tree Hill, but where is the tree? Oh, chopped down.
Going over the stile
Going over the stile
Cows. These ones were surprisingly mild and Lynn was even able to get in a drive-by pet.
Cows. These ones were surprisingly mild and Lynn was even able to get in a drive-by pet.
Who doesn't love ice cream?
Who doesn’t love ice cream?

Sugar now running in our veins,  we were able to continue the trek up the fast route (i.e. straight up the hill, switchbacks are for losers), before arriving at our intended destination, the standing obelisk on One Tree Hill. There we took in the views of downtown Auckland, the Pacific Ocean, and the Tasman Sea. There were some lovely blue skies accenting, and let’s be honest, the grazing sheep on the hill only added to the charm.

Bruce next to a burned out tree on the walk up.
Bruce next to a burned out tree on the walk up.
Almost there.
Almost there.
We did it!
We did it!
The obelisk, up close and personal
The obelisk, up close and personal
Auckland panorama
Auckland panorama
Phil, Doug, Judy, Bruce, and Sue enjoying the view
Phil, Doug, Judy, Bruce, and Sue enjoying the view

By this point our new arrivals were sufficiently exhausted, having to deal with a 17 hour time change. So, we headed back downhill, through the neighborhood where we caught a train to take us back into the CBD. He we completed our check-in and spent 30 minutes freshening up. We don’t know what this meant for others, but for us this meant going through the pile of mail Judy had nicely brought for us. Included were some checks, new credit cards, sweet birthday cards, festive holiday cards, and much anticipated wedding save-the-dates. So, thank you everyone for thinking of us (including our banks)!

Fact: There are more sheep in New Zealand than people. (We have no sources to back that up)
Fact: There are more sheep in New Zealand than people. (We have no sources to back that up)
Lynn checking the mail
Lynn checking the mail

The six of us once again met up for some delicious dinner at a nearby Middle Eastern restaurant, before checking out the Sky Tower, an observation and telecommunication tower in Auckland’s CBD. It is also where you can pay a lot of money to give yourself a minor heart attack while falling off its edge. Don’t get your hopes up because none of us will be doing it. Instead we retired to our respective rooms with plans to meet at 8 a.m. for breakfast. Well, everyone else did. The two of us went on a successful reconnaissance mission, details of which will be revealed at a later date.

Sky Tower at dusk
Sky Tower at dusk

Daily Walking Mileage: 10.0

Fun Facts

  • Thanks to Judy, Bruce, Sue, and Phil we now know that the name of the wooden do-hickies that take you up and over fences are called stiles. They apparently have them a lot over in the U.K. and this bunch has done a fair bit of traveling there.
  • One Tree Hill received it’s name when a colonial town was built in the area. This was due to the fact that a single tree stood at its summit. Very creative. The obelisk that now stands at its peak was meant to serve as a memorial to the Maoris, with the belief that they would die out over time. Not only is that super harsh, but also very untrue.
  • The downside of writing a blog is that the people who read it can make jokes that initially confuse you because you ask yourself, “Wait, how did they know that.” Then you realize that you’ve shared all your thoughts and feelings for the last 3 months with anyone willing to read it…Yeah.

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