... That was my first impression of New Zealand, after two years of living in Asia.
Auckland was a combination of Fremantle and Sydney Harbour, old and modern buildings and an attractive waterway. We decided to stay on the waterfront for a few days before the conference began. The hotel was ageing (which we knew from the reviews we'd seen) but had an excellent restaurant - and we really did enjoy the view. We went on a half day winery tour - good wine is something we don't get here. However, the "wine and cheese in our room overlooking the harbour" didn't eventuate so our cases were weighed down with our unconsumed purchases on the way back. We are now working our way slowly through our micro cellar.
We also hired a car for a few days and visited the Rotorua area - a bit mind blowing to see (and smell) all that steam seeping up everywhere. I couldn't help wondering what the chances were of a sudden eruption happening. I think the highlight was visiting White Island, an active volcano which once had a sulphur mine. We had lovely weather (sea a bit choppy getting off the boat though), the island's history fascinating and the scenery quite surreal. We were greeted by dolphins and whales on the way over and passed a tiny island with a seal colony on the return. Excellent day trip.
Ate lots of western food we'd missed (fish and chips, steak, pizza, sandwiches, cakes, ice cream), but found it just too rich and heavy after a while. No wonder we put on weight as soon as we go home!
Will leave it to the photos.