Hooray for family visits! Sorry for lack of updates, as I've been too busy paying hostess to my mom, dad, and brother who flew in Saturday. They went down to Queenstown today, though, so I've got time to study a bit before rejoining them this weekend.
So what have we been doing? Well basically, all the touristy things to do around Auckland that I've neglected doing myself up to this point (because when you live somewhere you never do the tourist stuff somehow!). So we had dinner at the top of Sky Tower one night, went to the Marine museum to look at the boats, stuff like that... alas I am missing half the pictures as my dad also has his camera, and those are not uploadable at this point. But I can make do with my half well enough, right?
This is me and Patrick on Waiheke Island, which is an island a little over a half hour ferry ride from Auckland. It's quite nice really: most of it is covered in vinyards and olive groves, so the whole thing has a Mediterranean feel. About 8,000 people live here, most of whom commute to Auckland via the ferry for work. If you are the sort of person who would want to live in a quiet little community but are worried about being bored too far from a city, this is probably the place for you.
It was too cold to check out the water on the beach, so we went along for awhile collecting sand dollars and watching this bicycle-windsurf guy. He really went fast! As long as you're careful on your turns and avoid falling you can have a pretty good time of it... mind I'm pretty sure that the falling part would really hurt on packed sand.
Auckland in the distance as we were tramping back on a trail to the ferry terminal. It looked like the Emerald City in the fading sunlight... of course, this is my family and this is one of our typical adventures, so we inadvertently took a few extra-long routes and were dangerously close to missing the ferry/ getting trapped in the countryside after the sunset. Luckily we happened to find a jogger and he pointed out a winding trail for us; we made it down to the ferry with mere minutes to spare. Ah, good times.
Patrick making a new friend with a piranha at Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World, which is the Auckland aquarium. I don't know why, but for whatever reason I seem to accumulate pictures of my brother befriending dangerous creatures; I also have a few shots of him with a stingray and a shark...
Some of the penguin colony at Kelly Tarlton's, which is of impressive size. The penguins are in a special contaminant-free area which is kept at freezing point, so in order to see them you go on a heated snowcat ride past the colony. The upside of doing it this way is you get to go within a few feet of the penguins, which is just cool...
The other amusement of the snowcat ride, by the way, is the fact that they feel the need to do something beyond just showing you penguins for some reason, so they have some other displays you need to trudge past before and after. The best one of these was when they talked about Antarctic predators, so the disembodied narrator voice says at some point "but not even a leopard seal can beat... THE ORCA WHALE!!!!" This is followed by a huge plastic orca head rising out of the water with a plastic leopard seal in its mouth, you hear tape-recorded squeals, and the orca sinks back down in a nice, mechanically disjointed fashion. We went on this ride twice because there was no other good way to watch the penguins, and it threw me and Patrick into fits of laughter both times.
Ah, family. It's good to see them! I could go on, but I have to get to class and learn some more about electromagnetism... talk to you guys later.