A Geographically Blessed City

8 Jul Images by RJM

“It’s hard to imagine a more geographically blessed city. Its two harbours frame a narrow isthmus punctuated by volcanic cones and surrounded by fertile farmlands. From any of its numerous vantage points you’ll be astonished by how close the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean come to kissing and forming a new island.” (Lonely Planet’s “New Zealand,” 16th Edition; pg. 60)

Images by RJM

Auckland Harbour Bridge and Sky Tower
(as seen from Mount Eden)

According to 2012 census, Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand with 1,397,300 people – approximately 32% of the country’s population. It was the capitol of New Zealand from 1842 until 1865, at which time the seat of government was moved to the more centrally-located and current capitol city of Wellington.

We spent two days in Auckland, and enjoyed visiting some of the more famous sites as well as a few lesser-known places. Here are some highlights:

Continue reading


Sometimes You Just Need a Little Get-Away

4 Jul

For the past week the heat in Sacramento has been unusually high: Triple digits for days. So when my friend said she was going to spend a few days in Incline Village, Nevada, I asked if I could come visit, and – fortunately – she said “Yes!”

Images by RJM

Hyatt Regency, Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino
Incline Village, Nevada

She was at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino and I drove up Tuesday morning for an overnight stay. (I’ve reviewed it on TripAdvisor if you’re interested in my thoughts about the hotel itself.)

We were eager to enjoy the cooler mountain air, and having a private beach just added to the ambiance!

Of course the hotel was accessible; I counted ten handicap parking spots, and was told at the front desk that there are 12 handicap accessible rooms (although the website indicates there are ten). Continue reading

The Mighty Kauri

30 Jun
Images by RJM

Kauri spirit

There are so many little details to share about my New Zealand adventure, and I don’t want to bore you with everything. (Besides, I hope these posts inspire you to see New Zealand for yourself!)

However, I must talk a little about the trees that were so important to the Maori peoples, not only for their own construction but also for their commence. I’ve already written about my first encounter with the magnificent Kauri, and the historical significance of these giants. Continue reading

Pink Sheep?

23 Jun Images by RJM

On the day we arrived in New Zealand, we drove north from Auckland to Paihia on State Highway 1. After the long flight, I tiredly sat in the back of the van and enjoyed the passing scenery: Lush green hills and pastures littered with cattle and sheep; occasionally a few chickens.

Suddenly I saw something very unusual out the window. Pink sheep. Continue reading

Kiwi History Lesson

21 Jun Images by RJM

During our third day in Paihia we visited the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, listed as “one of the 101 Must Do’s for Kiwis” according to New Zealand’s Automobile Association.

Waitanti Treaty House, New Zealand Feb. 2013

It was here, on February 6, 1840, that the first 43 Maori chiefs, after much discussion, signed the Treaty of Waitangi with the British crown (eventually over 500 would sign it). (Lonely Planet New Zealand, 16th edition, pg. 146) Continue reading

Fort Ord Dunes State Beach

16 Jun Images by RJM
Images by RJM

Entrance to the State Park

Carrieanna and I recently visited Fort Ord Dunes State Beach, where we enjoyed the accessible boardwalk and the view across the bay to Monterey.

Images by RJM

View of Monterey (and the steep streets leading to the Presidio) from Fort Ord Dunes State Park

This State Park was created in 2009, and encompasses 4 miles of coastline along the Monterey Bay, including the now-closed Fort Ord, a former U.S. Army post. Continue reading

Maori Bibles, and A House of Worship

2 Jun Images by RJM

At the suggestion of our group leader, I purchased a one-year membership to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, which not only supports New Zealand’s efforts to protect their historic buildings, but also affords free entry to many trust properties located throughout New Zealand as well as Australia, England, and even a few Historic sites in the USA. For more information, visit their website.

I first used my membership in Russell, touring the Pompallier Mission which purports to be the oldest surviving industrial building in New Zealand. Continue reading

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