Why are New Zealanders Called Kiwis?

January 21, 2006
Our clothes are really starting to show the wear and tear from our travels, so today, we went to the Central Department Store to shop. We didn't know what to expect since the Thai people are so petite. But, we were fairly successful - Markus got 3 new shirts (although he had to get size XXL in one of them - that's how much smaller their sizing is!) and 2 pairs of shorts and I bought 3 skirts and 2 tops. We are very happy that we won't be looking quite so downtrodden anymore!

January 22, 2006
Room ViewWe were up at 6:00 this morning and on our way to the airport at 7:15. Our flight to Hong Kong left on-time at 10:00 and we arrived a few minutes early at 1:30 PM. Since we were just in Hong Kong a couple of weeks ago, we knew the "way of the land" and caught the Airport Express train to Central Station, and then hopped on the shuttle bus to the Renaissance Harbourview Hotel. We got a really good rate at HK $1130 (about $150) - and we were upgraded to the Executive Club level! We had hors d'oeuvres in the evening. It was so nice and there was such variety that neither of us were hungry for dinner. Since it was such a long day, we were in bed by 11:00 and fast asleep shortly thereafter!

Harbour ReflectionJanuary 23, 2006

We had a nice leisurely breakfast in the executive lounge this morning and then I worked on a project for London Life for a while. We checked out around 1:30 PM and went out for some lunch. Today is really overcast and a little on the cool side, about 55*, so it wasn't exactly a stellar day to be sightseeing in the city.

For lunch, we went to an Italian restaurant that we had seen previously. We were really proud of ourselves that we could remember where it was and then find it! Actually, Hong Kong is a relatively easy city to navigate, despite its size. After lunch, we went back to the hotel to pick up our bags and repeat yesterday's journey in the opposite direction.

We got to the in-town check-in at the central station by 4:00 - way early! But, we were able to check-in anyway and get rid of our bags. We hopped on the train and were in the Cathay Pacific lounge by 5:00. Unfortunately, our flight has been delayed by 45 minutes - we used the extra time to eat at the Noodle Bar - yummy!

View from our roomJanuary 24, 2006
We arrived in Auckland today at 1:30 local time - a 5 hour difference from Hong Kong. Our business class seats on Cathay Pacific were some of the worst ever! We rented a car at the airport and drove into Auckland city centre, where our hotel was located. The weather was absolutely horrific - raining and huge wind gusts. We were parked in front of our hotel on Queen Street; I went inside to check in and Markus stayed with the car. I emerged 5 minutes later and Mark was on the sidewalk (under a protective overhang) looking around. A window in one of the nearby apartment buildings had apparently been left open for the day and the wind was so strong that it blew it off of its hinges, down to street level where it bounced on the overhang, broke and sprayed glass all over our car. We didn't realize it immediately, but one large piece hit in the very corner of the windscreen and caused several cracks. Welcome to New Zealand!

Our room overlooks Sky Tower, the tallest tower in the Southern Hemisphere at 328 metres (1000 feet). On a clear day (not today), one supposedly has views for 80 kms.

HarbourJanuary 25 and January 26, 2006
I know I have said this before, but the longer our trip goes on, the more difficulty we are having adjusting to the time zone differences. Wednesday and Thursday of this week were no exception. We were up "relatively" early on Wednesday (at 9:00) as I had a work-related phone call. After my call, we set off to explore the harbor area. Auckland is really a beautiful city - despite the rain (which is continuing full-force!), we found a sheltered waterfront restaurant for lunch. We really enjoyed the view and the food.

The weather on Thursday was somewhat improved. Once again, we walked along the harbour area and had lunch at a pub called the Loaded Hog (unique name, eh?). After lunch, we stopped in at the tourist center and walked to the supermarket for a few items.

Auckland SkylineJanuary 27, 2005
We drove to the east of Auckland today - out toward Mission Bay and St. Helier's. Then, we visited Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic& Underwater World. There was a fairly good replica of Robert Scott's Antarctic base camp as well as a penguin colony. The aquariums were good, but we have seen better displays at Monterey and Baltimore.

This weekend is a holiday weekend (it is Auckland's 160th anniversary), and the harbour area was really busy this afternoon. We really enjoyed the festive atmosphere! Getting a table was a bit of a challenge, but we did find some seats and settled in for an evening of people-watching.

So, now for the Kiwi trivia - have you ever wondered why people from New Zealand are sometimes called Kiwis? Have you ever seen a Kiwi, are do you even know what a Kiwi is? The most ancient of New Zealand’s birds, the kiwi, evolved 70 million years ago from a flightless ancestor from the great southern continent of Gondwana. It’s a member of the ratite group, and related to the ostrich, emu and rhea as well as the now extinct New Zealand moa. Although kiwis are a relatively secretive, nocturnal species, seldom seen in the wild, it is well known. It has given its name to New Zealanders, who are called "Kiwis" the world over.