My global travels recently brought me to the beautiful islands of New Zealand. Undoubtedly, the 20+ hours of in-air travel time alone was worth the investment. New Zealand is renowned for its beauty and serenity, low-crime rate, and no biting critters. They have no harmful animals, such as, snakes or venomous insects, although a Kiwi shared that the occasional spider or two has been known to make its way over from Australia. Biosecurity screening at the airport is critically important to maintaining New Zealand’s environment. There are strict biosecurity procedures at airports and ports to protect against unwanted pests. There were also large signs with an image of a stinkbug (plentiful here in Central Pennsylvania) and a statement of how entry of these critters would harm their economy. The security process includes technology and pups trained to sniff out unwelcome items. Failing to declare biosecurity risk goods could result in immediate fines and possibly imprisonment.
I arrived at Heritage Auckland by 5am on 10/29/15 and was thrilled by their impeccable service. Every employee went out of his or her way to ensure my stay was unforgettable. Even though the hotel is nestled in the city, their amenities included a gym, pool, lap pool and tennis courts, in addition to an art gallery and other businesses on the premises. Although check-in wasn’t until 2pm, they immediately provided me with a place to settle in and shower in advance of my room being ready. They had a room ready for me by 11:30am and provided me with late day check-out my final day. I never carried a bag. The concierge scheduled all personal appointments for me. Even when there was a bit of a hiccup with a massage they scheduled on my behalf with another spa, it was promptly addressed. It is customary not to accept tips in their culture; however, I wouldn’t allow the hotel staff to decline.
Upon my early check-in, the rest of my day was dedicated to exploring The City of Sails! I loved the eclectic mix of accents as much as I enjoyed meditating by the water. Beautiful yachts set anchor in the Harbour on the warm, sunny Spring days.
New Zealanders are often referred to as Kiwis, derived from their national symbol – the Kiwi bird. New Zealand is quite a mixing bowl as I met local born Kiwis, as well as, transplants from around the world. Although most of the Kiwis I met had what I considered to be a British or Southern England accent, there was also an abundance of Australian English and other forms of hybrid English accents. I could listen to a British accent all day ☺
MY FIRST JUMP (yes, out of a perfectly good plane)
Although Queenstown holds the crown as the Adventure Capital of the World, I was excited for the opportunity to skydive about a half hour outside of Auckland’s bustling downtown. My epic first jump experience included a free fall of nearly 75 seconds from 16,500 feet. Once the parachute was released, I enjoyed several more minutes of floating across the blue sky, absorbing the magnificently breathtaking views. Click HERE to view a video of this remarkably exhilarating experience!