Monday afternoon, 11/21/16
After our morning sail, our program had us down for a special lunch today at Eden Garden, an award-winning sanctuary in the heart of Auckland. Jimmy and I were reminded (on a smaller scale, for sure) of Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, because both were former quarry lands. It's late spring here in New Zealand, and really lovely flowers lined the paths. Along with NZ plants I didn't recognize, I did see many of the same blooms in this garden that are found in our home state of California.
This looks very much like the Lenten Rose that pops up in my yard in April.
Eden Garden is more than pretty flowers. With 5.5 acres to roam, we followed several paths that took us past waterfalls, rock formations, and fabulous city and harbour views. We enjoyed being in this peaceful place.
Aha! I saw two native New Zealand birds here. One was the Tui, but getting its photo was nigh onto impossible, hiding as it was high in the treetops. Tui has a white tuft of feathers at the front of his neck, making him look quite proper, like a butler, perhaps. It has two voice boxes, which gives it quite a range of calls, and it is loud. The other new bird was the Fantail (above), and I obviously got a great picture of its ... fantail!
Eden Garden was the perfect spot for a yummy lunch, and looking!
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Following lunch, our coach headed to the Auckland War Memorial Museum, for an expert-led visit by a docent named Janet. She pointed out the wonderful collection of Māori and Polynesian artifacts. Jimmy and I have learned so much about these native people in the few short days we've been in the country. The Māori are, in fact, descendants of Polynesians. Displays of NZ's natural history and early heritage were also exhibited.
Jimmy, on the steps of the stately War Memorial Museum. Opened in 1929, the museum is also one of the most iconic Auckland buildings, as you can see above. It's constructed in the neo-classicist style and sitting on a grassed "plinth" (the remains of a dormant volcano) in Auckland Domain, which is a large public park close to the Auckland. I was dumbfounded to learn that the Auckland Volcanic Field is an area of about 360 sq km (139 sq mi) and within this field are over 50 +/- separate volcanoes, centered on Auckland city! Albert, our guide, continues to point out green-grass-covered volcanic "hills," calling them volcanoes. So amazing! Google it sometime.
Our group entering the museum.
This spectacular stained glass lead light ceiling is directly above the entrance foyer.
This Tui on exhibit held still for my camera! Notice its white chin.
I had to really stretch my neck to look up at the Moa's head. These flightless birds, endemic to NZ, could reach 9-11 ft in height, but unfortunately, Moas have been extinct for years.
A beautiful goddess figure. Please enlarge to read.
This structure would have been used as a storehouse. See the little black door to the right of Jimmy's head? This door was tiny so children could be sent in to fetch whatever was needed, but no grown person could squeeze in to raid it. Clever.... Small detail below.
Around 4:30, we hopped (maybe hopped isn't the right word now) back in the coach to return to our hotel, where we rested for a bit. Dinner was served in the hotel at 6:30, but this time, no menu had been selected in advance. Each of the 22 RS travelers perused their menus at table and made their choices. The food was excellent, but -- you know we Americans like to sit down and eat -- dinner in NZ is to be enjoyed ... slowly. Courses appeared at a snail's pace, yet we all endured till dessert appeared and was consumed. We got up from the table at 8:45 and, stifling mighty yawns, scattered to our rooms. Our very full day had come to an end.
We were assured dinners of this sort wouldn't happen again! Tomorrow? O boy -- a field trip!