Nov 27:  Sydney to Auckland

I finally found Vegemite at the airport.  There was some controversy when I went through NZ customs as to whether Vegemite counted as a plant product.  Vegemite is a yeast extract and thus not a plant, but the customs form listed mushrooms as plant products, so to be safe I checked the yes box.  One agent said I did need to declare Vegemite, while another understood my plant vs. fungus position.

I never saw so much green land and green water (actually any green water at all) until I was landing in Auckland.  Too bad the sky was mostly cloudy.

I didn't realize Auckland is so hilly, but I guess that makes sense on account of the volcanoes.

Northeast view from my room at the Hyatt Regency Auckland.  Rangitoto Island is in the distance.

Weight at this point = 73 kg (161 lb).

The one thing on my agenda for today was the Sky Tower, at 328 m (1076 ft) the tallest tower in the southern hemisphere.  I normally don't get a woody for tall buildings (e.g. Centrepoint and the Eiffel Tower), but I had to ascend Sky Tower since it's the tallest in the SoHem.  Plus I recalled when I visited the World Trade Center in July 2001 and didn't go to the top because I figured I could do that next time.

Northeast view from Sky Tower, Main Observation Level (186 m/610 ft).

Southeast view from Main Observation Level.  The Parthenon-like structure at left center is the Auckland Museum.

Straight-down view through the floor of the Main Observation Level, through one of the 38-mm glass panels that is reputedly as strong as concrete.  This is the corner of Federal and Victoria.  The "Mexican food" rooftop ad is brilliant, and I ended up having dinner there the next day.  At the top corner of the Sky Tower patio is the Skyjump platform, where bungee-style jumpers land after departing from a few meters above the MOL.  I would have done it but between BridgeClimb and Rangitoto I'd done enough altitude stuff already.

Northeast view from Sky Deck (220.4 m/723 ft).

East view from Sky Tower.  Look at the tall building topped by the dark step pyramid--my hotel is the building to the right of and partially obscured by the pyramid.

Whites appear to be in the minority in Auckland, which is what I remember reading.  Asians and Polynesians are predominant.  I don't know how to identify Maori.

On the flight we were served Indian food, which ranks second only to the salmon sandwich I had a year ago on the London-Amsterdam flight.  But this didn't stop me from having Indian again for dinner.  I tried to talk myself out of it but they had chicken Madras.

After dinner I went to the wharf just to see how far a walk it was from my hotel.  Then I retired.

It took a few minutes of TV watching to establish the different between the Aussie and Kiwi accents.  Kiwis pronounce short e as short i, and short i as short oo.  So "seven" is pronounced siv'ən instead of sev'ən, and "chicks" is pronounced chooks instead of chiks.  Now I understand the "foosh" comment on the Contiki coach.