New Zealand Summary
We flew to New Zealand from Rio de Janeiro on Aerolinas Argentinas (see Cherylís travel journal for the full story). We rented a car and stayed at a lovely apartment in downtown Auckland called the Domaine. It was operated by the New Zealand Cancer Society, used to house patients and their families for free. Paying guests such as us helped to offset the cost of this service. After two days in Auckland, we drove south and spent the rest of the week on the North Island. We stayed at small inn in a one-horse town called Managakino, at a Best Western motel in Rotorua and an ocean front condo in Mt. Maunganui, a small beach community outside of Tauranga on the east coast. The weather was perfect, food and wine delightful and countryside beautiful. Some highlights were our visits to a kiwi fruit farm, the Maori Cultural Center, bungee jumping for the first time and seeing real live Kiwi birds at the Kiwi Encounter Sanctuary.
Kona Moment: Learning how culturally similar the Maori people are to the Hawaiians; the Maori word for woman is Wahina and in Hawaiian it is Wahine.
Starbucks: Yes, we found a new Starbucks store in an Auckland suburb, but it had no customers. And their big "Wireless Hotspot" sign did us no good since there was no pay-as-you-go option, that is, only those with a local phone account could use the service.
Weird McDonalds Menu Item: None, but the milkshakes tasted funny.
Cultural Moment: In New Zealand they give you fresh milk for your tea when you check into a hotel or motel.