By Ben |

Sat, June 29

Feeling much better rested on Saturday morning, we took a bus to the Auckland Zoo. There we saw native wildlife, including a kiwi and a kea, and some Australian animals as well, finishing around noon. Afterward we decided to split up for the day and meet up back at the hotel in the evening.

Jessie took a car downtown and toured the Wētā Workshop Unleashed! and the Auckland Art Gallery. The workshop holds a 90 minute tour of the storyboards, sets, costumes and special effects for three imaginary movies (fantasy, sci-fi, and horror) to show how different effects are done. Jessie learned that the founders of Wētā Workshop quite like guinea pigs and are building their guinea pigs a mini Lord of the Rings set. At the Auckland gallery, she made a point to see indigenous and other New Zealand art, as we have plenty of European and Asian art at home!

I walked to Kelmarna Community Farm to take a look around, and then I took a bus to the Auckland Domain, which is like Boston Common. I was particularly impressed by the Fernz Fernery. Then I went to the War Memorial Museum (also in the Domain) and did not tour the war exhibits, but I did learn a lot about the natural history of NZ and Māori history. The museum really brought home that although Australia has been inhabited for 50,000 years, New Zealand has only been populated for 800 years.

Back at the hotel, we ate our leftovers from the night before and I nailed down plans for the coming week in Australia. In the process I discovered that the rental car office where our car was booked would likely be closed before we could get there.