The City of Sails and the Bay of Islands

Kauri Cliff 005 We flew from India to Auckland, and the transition couldn’t have been more dramatic. We went from camels in the middle of “highways,” cows roaming the sidewalks of major cities, and young children smiling and waving to us everywhere, saying “Tata,” to . . . a beautiful and civilized, yet unspoiled, country. New Zealand is one of the few places on our trip that Elizabeth and I have both been to before, but we loved it so much that we were anxious to return.

Auckland 215 In Auckland, called the City of Sails, we got together with dear long-time friends, Greg Neil and Jayne Tankersley. Some of you may remember them from Beacon Hill, where they lived with us for several years. Well, now they’ve returned to their New Zealand homeland, and now have a good-sized family of their own — a four Auckland 219year old son Harry, a two year old son Oliver, and a new two-month old daughter Juliet. Wow! It was fabulous to see them again, and their children are adorable. It reminded us of how quickly children grow up (ours were three and one when we first met Greg and Jayne), and how fortunate we are to have this magical year as a family!

Auckland 221 I was in Auckland in 1989, and it has changed dramatically since then. I spent very little time in Auckland on that trip, focusing on the South Island, but had the impression that, apart from the airport, there was little to do or see in Auckland. During this stay in Auckland, we went to the Auckland Museum and the Auckland Zoo. The Museum had a Maori show, which we took in and really enjoyed. If you’re curious about Maori dance, check out our video (or one or two more) from our visit to the Museum. The country of New Zealand has done a fairly good job of integrating the original Maori inhabitants with more recent immigrants, although I’m sure there’s room for improvement. But the situation seems much better here than for the Aborigines in Australia.

Auckland 233 As we walked around the Auckland Zoo, Greg and Jayne observed that zoos will probably never be the same for our family. We’d see a caged peacock and say, “Gee, they were everywhere in the wild in India.” Or we’d wait in a big crowd for the tiger feeding and we’d be thinking about the Bengal Tigers of Ranthambhore. And it was fun to watch a hippo bathing in the zoo, but all of us are thinking forward to Africa. I’ve always loved zoos, so I hope down the road the magic will return to a visit to a great zoo, but for now we’ve decided to skip them for the next while or so.

Baseball in New Zealand 039 After a brief, but fun, visit to Auckland, we flew up to Kerikeri, the largest city in the Bay of Islands. We were able to start the visit off with some baseball with a group of twenty kids who play regularly in a neat little town called Russell. We then headed to our hotel, at Julian Robertson’s Kauri Cliffs, which we used as a base for exploring this particularly beautiful area on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand.

Kauri Cliff 085 If you’re from the U.S. and are looking for a metaphor for this area of New Zealand, think California, before many people lived there, but with warm ocean water. We went to some beaches here that were among the most beautiful I’ve ever seen in my life. Honestly, I think I could spend months just watching the deep blue ocean collide with the spectacular rocks and sandy beaches here. We met many people who emigrated here from other parts of the world, and it’s easy to see why.

Kauri Cliff 137 We got a real education in sheep shearing while we visited Kauri Cliffs. If you want to see how a sheep gets sheared, check out this video. We learned that the world record in sheep shearing had been set by a Kiwi (their word for a New Zealand native) earlier this year. He sheared 721 sheep in nine hours. If you watch just one sheep being sheared, you quickly realize how back-breaking and demanding the job is (and it’s lent itself to little inKauri Cliff 140 the way of automation). The pay is around $1.50 per shorn sheep in New Zealand (more in other countries, like Australia and the U.S., but not much above $2.00). All I can say is that if my family depended on my ability to shear sheep to provide for them, we’d be a DEEP SHEEP DO-DO. I have a feeling I’d be the one ending up with no hair!

White Island 031 The next day, we went out sailing in the Bay of Islands with Don and Marilyn Logan, a fascinating couple. They designed their own katamaran, working with mast designers for some of the America’s Cup teams (but, unfortunately, didn’t work with Scott Ferguson from Jamestown!!). They had taken the television crews out during the last two America’s Cup races held in the Auckland area, and had amazing stories about the challenges of working with the crews to televise the competition. Anyway, Eliazabeth and I are hardly knowledgeable sailors, but their design seemed brilliant — lots of comfortable living space, a very stable boat, and quite fast. We hit 13 knots that day, and they often go above 15 knots.

White Island 017 We feel fortunate to spend time in Jamestown, Rhode Island, and are big fans of the scenery there. But, boy, the Bay of Islands is just amazing! Everytime you think you’ve just seen the most beautiful island you can imagine, you come across something even more spectacular. We saw a few good birds (including this Australasian Gannett) while we were out, including the Little Blue Penguin, but were hoping to see some dolphins and killer whales, which didn’t work out. Nevertheless, it was a terrific adventure.

Auckland 271 Kauri Cliffs is a very distinctive place, complete with hiking trails, beaches, and a great golf course. It’s over 2,500 acres in all, and it’s been designed brilliantly. We had a great stay there, and would highly recommend it for anyone visiting the area, especially golfers. I didn’t get on the course, but did hit some balls at the driving range. While it was the first time I played in four months, I was surprised that not a whole lot had changed about my golf game — a few decent shots in a sea of lousy shots! But it did feel good to get a club in my hand again, and made me think fondly of all my golf buddies!

Feel free to check out our photos from Auckland and the Bay of Islands.

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