Auckland is simply a stunning city. Its style and activity easily rival Sydney. It has been said that Auckland is best seen from its harbor, and surely this is correct. Our ship came into the harbor and docked at the pier seen at the right of the picture. It is a pier with a difference: sitting on it is a Hilton Hotel. Some folks aboard the ship met almost face to face with residents in their hotel rooms just a few yards across from them!


Auckland sits in what is called a volcanic field. Some fifty volcanoes, regarded as extinct, manifest themselves across the city. This photo is taken from Eden Park, a volcanic cone - one of many rising above the city. Just below us in fact was the volcano's crater. Cattle graze easily on the slopes of the peak. In the distance can be seen the marvelous Auckland Harbor.


Auckland is called the "City of Sails." On a Sunday, we went for a sail ourselves and took in all the sights we could. Across from Auckland is a community known as Devonport. Dominating this area is a peak called Victoria. In the distance beyond Devonport can be seen the silhouette of Rangitoto, the largest and most recently active of the volcanoes here, now an island in the bay.


Devonport is connected to Auckland by a great bridge, reminiscent of Sydney's famous counterpart. It is hard to capture the charm of this community. Its streets are filled with cafes and shops, banners, and happy people. It is a favorite place for families on a sunny day.


Our sail was not on a sleek sailboat in the marina, but a rebuilt scow called the Ted Ashby. It is run by the National Maritime Museum. On this day, Jim, Diane and Laura were the only paying passengers! This was due to a Santa Claus Parade in the main part of the city and everyone seems to have gone to that instead. Diane and Laura got into the act and helped "crew" for the Ashby, raising and trimming the sails of this old steam driven craft.


The War Memorial occupies yet another hill surrounded by a huge, lush park called the Domain. The Memorial commemorates those from New Zealand who died in the world wars. But it is not just a monument. It is also a vast museum housing the history of the islands and her peoples. We spent several hours here, adding to our experience of the Te Papa in Wellington. Auckland actually served as the first capital of New Zealand.


Auckland has many parks. The largest is called the Domain, and is home to numerous cricket fields, the Winter Garden, outdoor sculptures, and carefully manicured lawns. Auckland is home to nearly half of the population of New Zealand, which totals over 4 million. Its suburbs and communities are colorful, lively places. We found Auckland to be a high point of our voyage.


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