Thursday, January 8, 2009

1/8/2008 - Lions and Tigers and . . . Kiwis? Oh, My.

The weather in this place is very changeable. When I stepped out of the tent around 8:00AM, completely clouded over. By 9AM, completely blue sky. Good day to have a clean slate. After talking to Rick this morning, decided on the zoo. It is apparently a solid one.

I also learned from Rick about the store of food that is ripe for the picking in the morning - the stuff that other people leave behind in a giant pile. He scored a couple of fresh kiwi fruits, I managed a bag of muesli. It tastes better 'cuz it's free.

IMGP1180.JPG Avast ye, maties - I've plundered the camp, and taken this muesli. Yar.

Off we go to the zoo. It really is a nice one, well-kept and clean. Lots of families, kids, the usual. And us. It was NZ$19 admission.

IMGP1181.JPGPretty bird! Pretty bird! Can you say "pretty bird"? (Name that movie in the comments section for bonus points)

Interestingly, no bears in this zoo. They did have the requisite elephants, monkeys, reptiles, birds, and a really cool tunnel they keep completely dark for the kiwis.

IMGP1184.JPGThe rope crossing was one of the preliminary festivities to the crowd favorite: monkey knife fights.

IMGP1182.JPGThis turtle and I had an instant connection: He is the slowest thing on four legs, I am the slowest thing on two wheels.

Grabbed some lunch around 1PM. I chose the hot dog. Hot dogs in New Zealand are one of the weird quirks of this country - the hot dog is some sort of plasticy sausage, and they cut the bun vertically rather than horizontally. All in all, ballparks all over America can rest easy tonight knowing that the secret to a really good hot dog has not, at least, made it to New Zealand.

IMGP1186.JPGI mean, come one. Vertically-cut bun? Obviously dyed plastic-related mystery meat sausage? Play-Doh makes a better version than this.

They fed the spider monkeys and the lions for the crowds, though, which is good. I didn't see them actually feed the lion, and just saw it gnawing on a limb:

IMGP1198.JPGLioness gnawing on a bone. I wish I could say that it was her camouflage that made her hard to see, but really it was my picture taking skillz.

It made me wonder a bit when I saw this sign by the alligator area:

IMGP1194.JPGThe alligator looked plastic, but was very real.

I definitely did not throw anything at animals after that.

Despite having them stuck in a small enclosure, I still have not seen a kiwi. They were apparently hiding in their den, continuing my streak of kiwi-lessness.

One really cool thing that I had not seen in any other zoo was a network of tunnels under the meerkats with places you could pop up, protected by a plexiglass bubble, to check them out. I didn't see meerkats, but I did see a different animal.

IMGP1200.JPGThis particular species, or homo erectodorkus, wears hats to suggest status. This particular male of the species must be near the top, even for a country close to Australia.

IMGP1193.JPGManaged to find the elephant, my ear-brothers.

IMGP1188.JPGRick, pointing to the rare and endangered Sea-Gull. It was a real treat.

Eventually, got tired of animals and made it back to the camp. I took a little siesta with a cool breeze drafting through the tent.

Woke back up again and it was STILL nice and sunny. Time for some activity. I fired up the ol' Bluebird and headed up to Mt. Eden, the highest point in the Auckland area. It is an old volcano cone, and rises about 600 feet. Good place for a run.

It actually didn't take long to get to the top thanks to the steepness of the trail. Only in New Zealand will you find the downtown of the biggest city in the country overlooked by grazing cattle - I passed a herd on my way up and had to play avoid-the-fresh-manure (sort of like hopscotch with worse consequences for messing up) on the trail.

IMGP1206.JPGAuckland from the top of Mt. Eden.

IMGP1207.JPGThe volcanic cone. It is considered sacred to the Maori, so of course later a bunch of tourists were messing around in the bottom of it despite the signs to the contrary.

Ran back down the mountain and then around the town of Mt. Eden - a very ritzy place with some higher-class shops and nice houses.

Once finished running, headed back up to the top by car and read my book for an hour and a half, despite the gusty winds.

IMGP1211.JPGSun setting over Mr. Eden

IMGP1212.JPGMy glitzy shot of the day, caught the moon and the city together.

Drove back and made dinner, scrounging some vinegar, olive oil, and pepper for the bread I had. Tried to make tuna+pasta+tomato sauce, not actually as bad as it sounds. A quick shower and I am now in the tent.

Tomorrow, planning on taking the car back. Should hear something about the bike. E-mailed them today to see if we can get some arrangement going where I would pay for it, and they would refund money based on the warranty outcome. I've lost about 10 days of bicycling and it is starting to wear on me - I only have about 6 weeks to go 1500 miles or so. We shall see how it goes.


  1. Take all you can, give nothing back, drink up me matties, yo ho

  2. You know I know that movie and by the way - his name is PETEY!


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