Day 8: Sky Tower, Goodbyes, and a Last Stroll
28.05.2007 - 27.05.2007
After a pretty late night, I slept in a few hours this morning, lounging around my hotel room and enjoying some New Zealand Television. Around 10:30 or so, I got myself up and joined several tour goers with later departing flights to walk around downtown a bit and head up Auckland’s Sky Tower.
Auckland is, of course, New Zealand’s largest metropolitan area, and although I didn’t have time to see a great deal of the city, what I saw struck me as quite modern and progressive. The Langham was only a short walk from downtown, and the stroll through all the energy of the traffic, pedestrians, and countless tourists was enjoyable. A number of tall buildings, stretching skyward in stark angles of mirrored glass, dominated the city’s center, and the unmistakable Sky Tower seemed to duck in out from behind them as we walked, offering striking views for an instant before disappearing completely the next.
When we arrived at the base of the tower, the massive concrete column rising above us was downright imposing, and I was so enthralled, in fact, that my neck got sore from staring up so long. After a quick wait in line, we were on the elevator and headed up to the first observation deck where the views were simply marvelous. Looking out over the harbor and the huge marina was particularly mesmerizing, but every vantage point offered a great deal to take in, and I was struck by just how large Auckland is. Buildings, homes, and roads seemed to stretch away from the ocean nearly as far as the eye could see.
After a good half an hour or so of enjoying the views, we caught the elevator down and ate lunch downtown. From there, we took a taxi back to the hotel and went through a great number of goodbyes. A variety of hugs, firm handshakes, and even a few tears were traded. For me, one of the fantastic things about the trip was the camaraderie developed in our group over such a short period of time. And the chance to share so many laughs and memorable experiences with great people was truly a highlight.
After a few more email promises and best wishes, I snuck back out the entrance to take a little stroll on my own, and it wasn’t long before I stumbled upon, completely by accident, a large collection of grassy fields known as the Auckland Domain. Across the large park there were a great number of touch rugby and soccer matches taking place—most of which seemed like loosely organized games between friends. So I found a comfortable spot in the grass and watched the Kiwis chase each other—and various different balls—around for an hour or so.
As the light faded in the park and the games broke up one by one, I paid close attention to a number of goodbyes and a lot of laughter, watching people disappear into the growing shadows, and then decided it was probably time for me to head for home too.
Night 8: The Langham Hotel
Dinner : Tonight, I splurged and ate dinner at Wendy’s. And in all seriousness, after seven nights of first-rate, multi-course meals, the simplicity of a burger from my favorite fast food joint was absolutely fabulous.