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New England Seabirds

 Wilson's Storm-petrel  Dave Jones

Birding On My Own
Australia &
New Zealand 2002
Emmalee Tarry
Revised 2015

Trip Reports

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Chapter 21


Prince's Wharf
Chinese Ship
America's Cup Yatch Race
Sky Tower

One World America's Cup competition Aukland

One World an American entry in the 2002 America's Cup sailing competition in Aukland

Prince's Wharf
Unbelievably the end of my trip has come. My last three days were spent in Auckland at the Hilton Hotel on Prince's Wharf as a gift from my son. It was a luxury to which I was not accustomed. Somebody carried my bags. The bed was soft and the shower hot. I had little I had to do other than repack my bags.

I spent another day on Tiritiri Matangi and had dinner in a fancy restaurant on the wharf. From the deck of the hotel I looked out on the Prince's Wharf.
Remember the Green Peace ship the Rainbow Warrior which was used to interfer with the ships killing whales in Antarctica. This is the wharf to which the Rainbow Warrior was tied when it was sunk by French terrorists. Why? Because Green Peace was going to interfere with a French nuclear test. One person was killed when the bomb exploded.

Kiwis have always been anti-nuke and even told the U.S. in 1985 to keep their nuclear warships out of New Zealand waters. The nuclear tests have stopped. Whale watching and swim with dolphins have gained friends for all marine mammals. The Rainbow Warrior has been raised, taken north to the Bay of Islands and sunk where it is popular with scuba divers. Green Peace is still around too, but you don't hear much about them any more. Not like in the days when the brave warriors in zodiacs put themselves between the harpoons and the whales. And oh yes, the Japan, Iceland, and other countries are still killing whales.

Chinese Ship
Luxury cruise ships tie up at Prince's Wharf, but not this week. Right outside my deck is a large Chinese ship bristling with satellite dishes and antennae.

I met up with a Canadian couple I had previously met at the YHA on the south island. We strolled along the wharf and asked questions about the ship. No one is talking. The sailors all claim not to speak English. This is a high tech ship I think they speak English.

In the morning, the sailors file off the ship for liberty in Auckland. I was down on the dock in the evening when they returned wearing new shoes, jackets, baseball caps, and carrying plastic bags of white, queen size lambs wool quilts. Some had as many as three.Must be cold in China.

Chinese Ship at Prince's Wharf Aukland, NZ Chinese Ship

America's Cup Elimination Tournament
Kiwis love yacht racing. Youngsters join sailing clubs like American youths play t-ball. Sports news reports the results of yacht races and during my visit you could watch the Louis Vuiton Elimination Tournament live on television every day they raced.

Of course they didn't race every day because it seems they were spending a good deal of time in court suing each other. The elimination tournament will decide who gets to race Team New Zealand for the America's Cup in February. The winner of the America's Cup gets to decide where the next race will be held in 4 years.

I was having breakfast at the Hilton Hotel when the competitors sailed out to race. The waiters pointed out the different boats and explained who was going to race. After breakfast I decided to walk down to the dock to see where the boats would come in after the race.

The captain of a boat the Takapu2 was offering to take passengers out to see today's race for NZ$160 which included lunch. I went out to see my first ever yacht race live and in person. The Takapu2 is a recently refurbished survey ship and home to the owner and his companion who in real life own a retail computer store. The owners and crew are enthusiastic sailors and explained the fine points of the race to me. We managed to be right on the finish line. When the boats got too far away we could watch the action on a big screen TV in the richly appointed salon. It was an odd place for a bird watcher.

At the start the boats jockey for position. This is the American One World (right) against the Italian Prada. It costs up to US$190 million dollars to design and develop a competitive boat.

America's Cup Elimination Race The winner

This is not governments doing this, but rather very rich people. I certainly hope these investors do not get any tax breaks in the US for such nonsense. There were two American boats: One World and Oracle. The Swiss boat is Alinghe. The Italian boat Prada. Other boats like Dennis Connor's Stars n Strips had already been eliminated by December when I was there.

One World crew celebrates a victory in the best out of seven elimination tournament. The winner of the elimination tournament gets to race Team New Zealand for the America's Cup.

We now know that the Swiss boat Alinghe won the right to face Team New Zealand and they won hands down. Of course the Skipper, crew, and most of the Alinghe's designers were from New Zealand. Go figure.  I always cheer for New Zealand boats because the people down here really love yatch racing.

Sky Tower
The Auckland skyline is dominated by the sky tower, a splendid tourist, broadcasting, and telecommunications facility according to the travel guide. It is home to a large gambling casino.

For NZ$15 ( $11 if you have a YHA card) you can ride the elevator to the observation platform. I finally went to the top on my last day in New Zealand.
The view is splendid and you can see the 20 or so volcanoes that at one time or another have shaped the landscape. You also look down on the boat sheds for the America's cup competitors. And if you are so inclined you can bungy jump to the ground. I watched. It was not really a jump but more of being lowered by cable. You can also just take the elevator back down.

That night I was on the United flight to Los Angeles. Even a trip of 8 months has a homecoming. The only question is how long it will be before I can go back. I really must go back to New Zealand to do the subantarctic islands tour.

The End - Thanks for reading.

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