Today our New Zealand adventure begins! Arrive in Auckland at 4:30am on a non-stop overnight New Zealand Air flight from San Francisco. A little disoriented but fairly well rested we take a shuttle bus to the Skycity Grand Hotel. After waiting a few hours to check-in (which we expected given that we arrived around 6am) a very gracious manager upgraded us to a 15th floor harbor view room. The Skycity Grand Hotel is connected to the Convention Center and good rates can be found online. It offers a quiet, calm atmosphere with a modern sophisticated setting. In contrast, the Skycity Hotel across the street has a bustling high-energy atmosphere that revolves around the Sky Tower and includes an iSight tourist information desk, many restaurants and a casino.
Auckland is a walking friendly city – in an afternoon we took in Quay Street and the waterfront, Albert Park and the Auckland Art Gallery. Our early morning shuttle ride took us through Auckland Domain the oldest and largest park in the city.