When we woke up on the morning of December 1st, we were already docked in Auckland. After our normal stop in the main dining room for breakfast, we were off on our excursion for the day. We boarded a local coach for a short drive around the harbor and then we stopped at Kelly Tarleton’s Sea Life Aquarium.
This aquarium was built in some “disused sewage storage tanks” according to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/…/Kelly_Tarlton’s_Sea_Life_Aquarium
) which actually seems like a tremendous use of an abandoned water tight facility.
We started our journey in the aquarium by passing through a recreation of the antarctic base of Captain Robert Falcon Scott. This ill fated 1913 expedition was trying to be the first to reach the south pole (they missed it by 34 days to a Norwegian group). Everyone in the expedition perished on their trip back from the south pole to their base. It turns out that many of the Antarctic expeditions originate in New Zealand because of its proximity and the relative calmness of the ocean compared to the southern tips of Africa and South America.
After passing through the Scott base exhibit, we entered the area of the penguin habitat where we could observe the King and Gentoo penguins through windows into the temperature controlled environment. I included two pictures of the penguins on my Facebook post. I particularly like the pair of King penguins (I leave it up to the reader to guess why).
From there we entered the large shark tank by stepping onto a circular beltway that slowly carried you around the tank. It was very small in comparison the the aquarium tank in Atlanta, Georgia, but it was beautiful nonetheless. After leaving the shark tank. we went through several smaller exhibits, including one with several different lobster tanks. I also included a picture on Facebook of one of the delicious inhabitants.
From the aquarium, we were bused downtown to the Sky Tower, the tallest free standing structure in the southern hemisphere. From the basement of the tower, we got on one of the elevators for the ride up to the observation platform. About a third of the way up, a gasp arose from everyone in the elevator when we discovered that the elevator doors were made of glass and we were suddenly overlooking the harbor. That small twinge in the pit of our stomachs came from looking down from a great height.
I included one picture on Facebook from the observation platform. In it you can see a magenta colored highway running through the middle of the city. After some research, I found out that this is an old motorway that was re-purposed for bicycle and pedestrian traffic. The bright color was used to make a statement to other cities around the world that you can make bicycle friendly environments even in the heart of a large city.
One additional note about the Sky Tower. They allow you to jump off of the tower for a price. No, this is not a suicide jump. You are hooked up to cables to prevent the wind from blowing you into the tower and to guide you to a safe landing platform. Jumpers reach an adrenaline high by leaping from 192 meters above the ground and reaching a speed of 85 kilometers per hour before landing. Needless to say, neither Alice nor I was interested in jumping. Taking a 25 day cruise on the other side of the world was excitement enough.