This weekend, I took a bus tour of Auckland with other international students. We started at 8:30 in the morning and came back around 5:30. It takes two hours to get to Auckland from Hamilton. Although our tour guide didn't prove overly knowledgeable and spent time pointing out things no one could see, we did see some interesting sights. Our first stop was the Mt. Eden Crater, and a beautiful lookout point. Next we drove around and saw some of the most exclusive houses in New Zealand ranging in price from four to forty million dollars. The houses, although they seemed nice, were not anything too exclusive which leads me to believe the standard of consumerism is quite different than in The States.
Next, we stopped in Mission Bay, a quaint sea-side village named after the Christian missionaries who first landed there. The beach area was bustling with activity and had a much different feel than Raglan. Lining the road running parallel to the sea were many bistros, eateries, and shops. A group of us got some food from one of the only take-away places, a fish and chips joint. This restraint was much tastier than the one right down the road from my flat. The fish had just the right amount of crispy breading. We took our newspapers satchels full of the fried delicacies and ate it sitting on the beach, not caring that our jeans were getting sandy. The sun was shining and the temperature was comfortable without jackets. As the sun glinted over the calm ocean I chatted with Norwegians, Germans, Americans, among other nationalities.
We got back on the bus to head towards the center of Auckland and the Sky Tower, the tallest building on the Southern Hemisphere. It was built just for that claim to fame, but also helps radio and TV frequencies to be broadcast to greater ranges. The glass elevator shoots up to the top of the tower bringing you to two different observation decks, both are glassed in with no way to step outside for a better view. They also have glass panels that you can stand on and look down below you - an interesting sensation. While we were taking in the sites, someone bungee jumped off the side of the building. After I was done looking around the tower, I headed out to the streets of Auckland to explore and look around. The main streets of the city do not give out a big-city vibe.
The next day, I took a trip with my residence hall to the Waingaro Hot Mineral Pools. It took about 45 minutes to get there from Hamilton. There is one very hot pool, one warm pool, and one kiddie pool. There are also two waterslides, also heated. It was cool to be able to go swimming and be comfortable in the middle of winter. We had a good time running up the pathway to the watersides and then watching people inevitably face-plant when they reached the pool at the bottom of the slide.