Auckland and Hamilton, New Zealand

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Our first day in New Zealand could not have been any more gorgeous.   We flew from Brisbane to Auckland, and took the bus from the airport to downtown Auckland in time for a late lunch.  Just a short ferry ride, and then a short, yet quite steep, walk up to the top of Mt. Victoria gave us some of the most amazing views imaginable, the photo above for one.  Below is a view of the city of Auckland on our return ferry trip.

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After a half day in Auckland, a driver came to pick us up and take us to Hamilton, location of LIANZA 2013, located along the amazing Waikato River.  Our second day in New Zealand was definitely one of the most memorable experiences of my life.  The conference goers were welcomed with a pōwhiri by mana whenua at Tūrangawaewae Marae.  The hospitality and beauty of the ceremony is unlike anything I have ever experienced before.  According to custom, we are now members of the tribe, welcome with open arms and hearts.  Photos are not allowed within the marae, but I do not think they would do it justice anyhow.  The feeling at the marae, at times almost overwhelming me with wonder and joy, transcends any mere picture.

The conference began the next day, and while ulotrichous was busy attending and speaking, I spent the days wandering Hamilton.  The first day was spent walking from our hotel down the Waikato River to the Hamilton Gardens.  I wandered the gardens, enjoying the glorious spring weather, returning in time to have a late dinner with ulotrichous.

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