By LINDA McCARTHY
We had an opportunity to spend Eastern Weekend in Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand at just under 1.4 million people. We stayed at the home of Peter and Patricia Kay, who were visiting their son and his young family in Brazil. Tom has been co-teaching a computer science class (C++) with Peter, who works on Massey’s Auburn campus, about 20 minutes north of Auckland’s Central Business District.
Sage Grendahl, who worked for us at the Missoula Downtown Association from 2001-2004 and now serves Destination Missoula, lived in Auckland from May to October of 2012 after earning a rare young professionals work visa.
On our way north we had a very scary car accident that rendered our vehicle inoperable in the small town of Owhango (population 200). We were so incredibly lucky because we didn’t’ roll the car, and there was no oncoming traffic at the curve. The family at Owhango Motors took exceptional care of us, towing our card into the shop on Good Friday, getting us hooked up with the last rental car in the area ($100/day), and repairing our Subaru while we continued on our vacation to the big city.
We spent the first day wandering around Downtown Auckland, strolling along the waterfront, checking out old buildings and new ones, visiting the Sky Tower (1,076 feet, built 1994-97), and enjoying a sandwich and beer on the bay. The city center was filled with great architecture amongst its buildings and waterfront, and there were nine buildings with 30 or more stories, several of which were residential structures.
On Easter Sunday we went to the local church in North Shore then spent the afternoon at Long Bay State Park, just a few blocks from where we were staying. We biked, swam, read, slept and picnicked in the sun. We spent the afternoon swimming and snorkeling at Goat Island, about an hour north of Auckland. It was a cloudy but warm day, and the beaches were quite crowded. While Maddy and I were out skimming the rocks, Tom fell asleep and got pooped on by a gaggle of large bird nesting in the trees. It was pretty funny.
Day four saw more biking, a little hiking, and more beach time at Long Bay with both Tom and Maddy taking turns rowing a one-man kayak. Maddy and I went to see Jack the Giant Slayer at the newly-build shopping center in Auburn.
On our final day we cleaned up the house, did a little shopping and had cocktails and hors’ oeuvres with the neighbors, Garry and Lyn Peters and their son Evan. We had a wonderfully lively discussion that jumped right into American politics, religion, family, children and more, and we departed with a couple of Garry’s own music CDs featuring him as lead singer and guitarist.
We headed back to Palmerston North on Wednesday, April 3 and visited the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves on our way home before picking up our newly-repaired car at Owhango Motors and returning our rental car. We drove home through Turangi and through the Rangipo Desert and reflected on the lessons learned from the activities of the weekend.
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Linda McCarthy has served as Executive Director of the Missoula Downtown Association since 1999. Prior to that, she served as a Sports Information Director for Grizzly Athletics for 10 years. She is a two-time graduate of The University of Montana, where her husband, Tom Gallagher, is a professor in the Applied Computing and Electronics Program at Missoula College. Her daughter, Maddy Gallagher, is an outgoing and kind 11-year-old who has spent all of her school years at Lewis & Clark Elementary. They can be reached via email at: email@example.com.