After exploring Chile and Argentina it was time to catch a flight westward across the Pacific to Auckland, New Zealand.
When it came time to check into our flight at the Buenos Aires airport our plans were nearly derailed – at check in we were initially denied boarding. Even though we held onward tickets to Australia, we hadn’t yet applied for our Australian travel visas (since we still had a month before we would arrive in Australia), and unexpectedly both the onward tickets and visa were required before we could board our flight to New Zealand. Thank goodness we were able to apply online for Australian tourist visas and we received them immediately. Visas in hand, we were allowed to check in for our flight to Auckland. Phew!
The whole episode gave us quite a panic (at least for 15 minutes) and taught us a lesson in carefully checking entry requirements when moving to a new country.
Our flight on Air New Zealand was uneventful and we arrived at 6am. We collected our rental car then found a coffee shop where we had breakfast and waited for the zoo to open.
Our travel to New Zealand brought a major change in time zones so we decided that spending most of the day at the zoo would be a good way to ward off drowsiness with some sunlight and physical activity.
After exploring a bit the kids were enlisted to help fill some hollow balls with peas and corn for the farmyard animals.
The food balls are an enrichment activity for the pigs, which used their noses to roll the balls and get to the treats inside.
The kids liked seeing the African animals, including elephants, lions and tigers.
We also learned about and saw some of the native animals including Kiwis!
Officially named the Auckland War Memorial Museum, the Auckland museum includes not only military history but also extensive exhibits on Maori culture and natural history.
As we explored the Maori portion of the museum we learned about the history of Maori settlement in New Zealand.
We also took part in a demonstration of traditional Maori music and the famous Haka.
The kids were excited to learn that the Haka included contorting the face (often with the tongue extended) to intimidate enemies.
Within the natural history portion of the museum we learned more about native animals including different kinds of Kiwi. This was a great lesson on how species evolve over time; the Kiwi lost their ability to fly due to the lack of ground predators.
Another exhibit focused on the geologic forces that have shaped the island country.
The “Weird and Wonderful” area was very engaging for the kids and they spent hours inspecting the different pieces; many of which could be touched. Look at the size of these spiders!
After wrapping up our long visit to the Auckland museum, we walked to the nearby Domain Wintergardens and admired the collection of plant life.
Kelly Tarleton’s Aquarium
Our next outing was to the aquarium. First the kids got their bearings and found our location on the map.
The first part of the aquarium was an exhibit on antarctic exploration.
We listened to a a keeper talk about King and Gentoo penguins, which we had seen in the wild in Argentina just a week before!
Later we watched divers feed the sharks in the shark tunnel.
The aquarium had all kinds of cool creatures, some of which could be felt in the touch tank.
Our time in Auckland was a great introduction to New Zealand and left us very much looking forward to spending a few weeks working our way south through the country!
Next time, we check out some of the awesome thermal features around Rotorua!