the Sky Tower at night
Today, or rather this afternoon, we join up with our tour group so this is our last morning on our own for awhile. Since we’d done the pre-shopping/pricing yesterday, today was the day to buy jewelry. I wanted a carved shell necklace and a carved jade pendant. There’s a crafts market held 7 days a week at Victoria Park Market near Victoria Park and its similar to an upscale flea market in the US. Lots of locally made items for reasonable prices; a shell pendant that I’d seen on Queen Street for $75 the day before had a twin at Victoria Park Market for $20. Of course some of the items were pretty touristy but some were also well made.
Since we were in a shopping mode and it was Saturday, we continued on to the Saturday market in Anotea Square.
This was more of the weekend crafts show type you’d see in the US. Lots of hand decorated clothing and leather works. Fun to look at until it was time to have lunch at a nearby café. The weather was cool but sunny so we ate outside and people-watched. Large shiny orange balls were strung along the streets and looked like large pumpkins. I don’t know if they were there all year or if they were the symbol of the Auckland Week celebration. Strange but festive in a Japanese lantern kind of way.
The Sky Tower in the background and those pumpkin things strung along the street
At the hotel we met our tour guide Cara J. who told us the rest of the group was coming into Auckland late from Fiji so we walked back to the harbor area.
Auckland has a very large harbor area and many boats - even more this weekend due to a boat show. This was obviously a people-watching day so we had a beer and continued observing. As we’d noticed before New Zealanders are friendly, casual, tanned and generally fit. Not too many overweight people around and most of those who were had an American accent. (Everywhere we walked in Auckland, we saw people jogging, day and night.)
Boat show in the harbor
We finally met the rest of our group. There are 17 other people plus our tour leader Cara. Everyone is our age, give or take 10 years and our level of fitness. Everybody except much younger Cara of course, who has cheekbones, polished skin and large eyes coupled with an air of competence. I think we're in good hands for this tour.
This evening Ken Young gave a lecture overview of New Zealand’s history and political process which we followed by dinner at Wildfire. I never did get around to visiting the Minus Five (icy martini bar) or go sliding down sand dunes. However I did begin the jewelry purchases and got a few gifts for relatives in Phoenix and one for myself. Jewelry is always easy to pack and somehow I manage to get it home