We got off to sick start on the plane from MEM to salt lake, where I felt dizzy for about half the flights. We got upgraded on the next leg of the journey so maybe the footrests and bananas made me feel better. Landing in LA, we saw hundreds of purple Jacaranda trees from the air. Monnie and Sam picked us up from the airport and took us on a tour to Venice beach, Santa Monica, and her home in Pasadena. After our three mile walk on the beach, we thought we would surely sleep soundly on the 13 hour flight to Melbourne. Despite a brand new plane – it was still a long and tiresome flight. We slept about 7 hours and spent the rest of the time enjoying some movies. Arriving in Melbourne we were dreading waiting another 6 hours sitting and flying, but we finally made it to Auckland. The airport bomb dog thought my backpack was suspicious, but it turned out he just wanted to eat the cookies in my backpack. After customs, we were greeted by a beautiful Maori welcome display and music. After struggling to understand what people were saying to us – we made it to our hotel/small apartment. We ended up with an executive suite with two bedrooms, a full kitchen, living room, and even a washing machine! To stay awake we decided to head over the Sky City Casino to have dinner. Nothing special or unique other than Kumara (like a sweet potato). Back at the hotel we struggled to stay awake and fell asleep around 9:30 or so.
In the morning we wandered over to the harbor to await a pickup for our bridge climb adventure. In Sydney they also have a bridge climb but I don’t know of this activity anywhere else. It took about 2 hours to climb up to the top and back down. We learned the history of the bridge (which is not interesting enough to repeat) and we even got a chance to see what I think they call the elephant (had trouble understanding the accent), a truck that automatically moves giant concrete dividers every day, changing the number of lanes going in each direction on the bridge. My legs are still aching! After the climb we had fresh fish lunch at the fish market and then took a long walk over to Auckland Domain (their version of Central Park). We visited the Winter Garden, which was beautiful! We also went to visit the Museum, which had Maori artifacts, a volcano simulator, dinosaurs, giant emus, a roach display, and a war museum. The best part of the museum was the views – but Wes loved the museum. After a long walk through the park – which could have easily been mistaken for a jungle) we meandered through the University area (which was adorable, with old houses) and hiked up some hills to get back to the hotel.