Way back in 2000, I visited New Zealand for work. I returned home and told my wife what I had seen. It became her #1 bucket list destination. We worked with some of my former co-workers on an itinerary. When I shared our plans with our daughter, she said we weren't going without her so she and our granddaughters went with us.
There is no Memphis to Auckland flight scheduled so we had to get creative. With a 13-hour flight in front of us, we took a night in Los Angeles. Just by coincidence, the Four Seasons hotel was full of celebrities getting ready for the Oscars.
New Zealand's North Island has been ravaged lately. First, in January the Auckland area received an entire summer's worth of rain within one day. The airport was flooded. Below is the Immigration area.
That was just the start.
Cyclone Gabrielle hit the North Island mid-February. The damage was widespread and particularly hit one of our planned destinations.
We re-swizzled our plans and actually got a couple of bonuses from that.
We picked up a Kia Carnival van and headed into Auckland's Harbour area. We checked into the Hilton Auckland on Princes Wharf.
In Auckland, we took the ferry to Devenport and climbed Mt. Victoria.
Our daughter and oldest granddaughter took the Sky Walk on the outside of the 53rd floor.
We spent a morning at the Auckland Zoo where we saw kiwis.
We climbed One Tree Hill, a 600 ft. volcanic peak.
SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium had the best penguin exhibit we've seen.
Afterwards, all three girls took the Harbour Bridge Climb.
We hit the jackpot with our plans to ride horses on the black sand beach. There's a lot to that story. Notice that there's no one else on the beach.
Our time in Auckland was up and we headed south. Our first stop was Karioitahi Beach, another black sand beach.
On toward Rotorua, we passed through Tirua.
In Rotorua, the girls resumed their dare-devil activities at ZORB.
And Skyline's luges.
We also visited Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland.
After a 12-hour flight and 2 Sundays, we made it back to Los Angeles and spent the night at Hermosa Beach.