Summary: Our 14th and last day in beautiful New Zealand was spent in squeezing in one more day of history and learning with a free walking tour and a visit at the New Zealand Maritime Museum.
Auckland Free Walking Tours. With an evening flight and a check-out time of 11:00 a.m., our first stop of the day was at a luggage storage locker at the Princess Warf. After dropping our bags, we headed out to meet our guide with Auckland Free Walking Tours. Starting at the Ferry Building, the tour included stops at the Train Station, the Sky Tower, Women’s Suffrage Square, the Auckland Art Galley, Albert Park, and Auckland University.
"Free" Tours. Yes, they are absolutely free, but don't forget that your guide earns his living on tips. Every place we've gone, we've had great experiences with these types of free tours. Our guide in Auckland gave tips on great food (first photo below), and provided detailed information and history of Auckland.
Women's Suffrage. Did you know that decades before the US's successful women's movement, New Zealand's Women's Suffrage Movement successfully help grant women the right to vote? A full 27 years before! Even with this early jump on equality, women in New Zealand still didn't have their first MP until 1933 - forty years after being granted the right to vote.
New Zealand Maritime Museum. Our last stop before grabbing our bags and heading out to the airport was at the New Zealand Maritime Museum. It is fitting that this island nation would also have a rich maritime history. From the early Māori inhabitants to the Dutch and British colonizers to more recently, the Country's famous sailing races, New Zealand is known for its affinity with the ocean waters. The Maritime museum offers a crash course in all things Maritime.
Miss You Already. Yes, New Zealand, we miss you already. Looking back, we would say that that what we liked about NZ was how we felt "at home." The landscape, culture, and people reminded us of home. It was like a cross between visiting Hawaii, our home City of San Francisco, and the mountains of Lake Tahoe. We half joked that if we ever needed to leave the US, we'd just move to New Zealand because it wouldn't be much of a change. Not everything was the same though so don't take these comments to mean that we didn't appreciate the uniqueness of this beautiful country. From being outnumbered by sheep, to their dedication to a relaxed state-of-mind, we loved all that New Zealand had to offer. We also especially enjoyed the thoughtful appreciation of nature, including their vast network of well-maintained hiking trails and National Park system. For those that are new to international travel, this may not be a bad first choice. Apart from learning to drive on the left-hand side of the road, you could consider New Zealand international travel with training-wheels. Either way, we loved this island nation and would definitely consider coming again.