November 11th – 16th
We took a four-hour flight on Monday from Sydney to Auckland. When I checked the bags, I noticed that the airport code for Auckland was “AKL”. You can’t get away from Andy’s influence no matter how far you travel!
During the flight, I watched the movie “42”. The movie was the story of how and why Jackie Robinson, the first black player in major league baseball, was brought into the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball organization in 1947. I was extremely impressed with Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, and emotionally moved by the moral character of these two men. These were men who did what was right, because it was right, even though it was unpopular. They made the “hard decisions” in life, when it would have been easy to take the easy way out. They both had sacrifices to make for the better good. Strangely enough, these two men and their actions reminded me of the men and women I practice law with at the firm. For over 38 years, I have participated in, and observed, the firm’s managers and its partners make the right decisions, and many times the hard decisions, for the benefit of the greater good of the firm and its family of employees. The managers of the firm and its partners are men and women who, unselfishly and without hesitation, put others above themselves and have made many sacrifices, which at times have gone unnoticed and unseen, so that others in the firm could be treated with dignity and respect as individuals. I have the greatest respect for the managers of the firm and its partners for always striving to do the morally right thing. I am also proud to be a small part of that team and wish to recognize the managers and partners of Scopelitis for the character which it has instilled in all of us to be the best, morally best, that we can be in our daily lives and with each other. If you have not seen the movie, I would recommend it to you.
New Zealand is a country of 5 million people and 31 million sheep. The number of sheep is down from 70 million in 1982. Baaaa! The New Zealander’s also invented the tear back Velcro strip, the pop lid on a self-sealing paint can, the child-proof pill bottle, and the crinkle in hair pins so that they don’t fall out. No part of New Zealand is more than 80 miles from the sea.
The average home price in Auckland is $652,000. The average sized home is 1700 square feet. Home prices went up 8% last year and 13% the year before. Most homes are sold at auction because demand has outstripped supply. The average income in Auckland is $57,000. A New Zealander (KIWI) with an annual income of $75,000.0 can buy a home that is priced at $800,000.00!!! Crazy how they have no loan to income ratios here. They just changed the standard loan guidelines and now you need 20% down to buy a home. But with that… nothing else matters.
We are in New Zealand to see if we can find the vineyards of Kim Crawford where Sauvignon Blanc wine is produced. Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc is a popular white wine sold in the United States for a reasonable price. It is great chilled. Good with appetizers, fish and chicken. We have drunk so much of this wine in the last few years that we thought we should go visit our money in New Zealand! So, here we are.
On Tuesday– we got a slow start. We walked around the harbor and took photos of the boats. The harbor is filled with all kinds of sailboats, powerboats and racing sailboats from various years of competing in the America Cup races. Lunch was at The Foodstore, which specializes in New Zealand fresh produce, meats, fish and cheeses. The menus in Australia and even more so in New Zealand recognize by name the farms and fisheries where the food is sourced. It sometimes even has explanations regarding what the cows are fed, how the fish are raised, and whether the vegetables are organic. The Aussies and Kiwis are very interested in eating healthy foods, free from processing and locally sourced. Later in the afternoon, we planned our next three days. I got a haircut. Rita finished the Sydney blog and posted the photos. We hope you enjoy the Sydney blog and photos.
On Wednesday, we took a 45-minute ferry ride to Waiheke (pronounced: “Why He Key”) Island, a beautiful island with rolling green hills, sheep, lots of contemporary homes and a lot of vineyards. We tasted red wine and had lunch at Stoney Ridge Vineyard, which has a uniquely island feel to it, tasted red and white wines at Mudbrick Winery, which was more traditional in style and architecture and finished with white wine at Cable Bay Winery, which was more contemporary. We had a great time on the island. Residents said it was a wonderful place to live, with low stress and great weather year around. The island has about 5,000 full time residents.
On Thursday, we went to Kumeu River Valley and visited the vineyards or tasting cellars for Kim Crawford, Nobilo, Cooper Creek and Artisan wines. We spent almost two hours at Kim Crawford and Nobilo and got a great wine education and had a lot of fun. Kim Crawford had so many different wines to taste that are not available in the US. So we bought a lot of wine to be shipped to us so that it will be received before Christmas. Lunch was totally organic and was at the Artisan Winery. We had great homemade breads, homemade olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chicken, lamb, pasta and potato salad, tomato and greens salad, red cabbage salad and a greek salad. Did I mention we had wine for lunch? We had a great organic Sauvignon Blanc and a Pinot Noir. We were supposed to meet up with Rita’s work colleague, but he was a little busy as he just arrived here on Wednesday night. As he said himself, he has kids scattered all across this country he needs to see, so we are meeting him tonight.
Tomorrow we leave for Rarotonga. Where do you ask is Rarotonga? Rita prepared a map for you. Follow us to this island paradise. Here is the link for the map. Be sure to click on the arrow in the upper right hand corner.
Miss you all.
See you soon. Love, Norm & Rita.
WOW!! NEW ZEALAND ROCKS!!!
Here are some of the vineyard pictures.
Where we had a great lunch and a few tastes, of course.
Te Whau (pronounced “TEA FOE”)
Cable Bay Winery…
Just some other beautiful sites along the way.
Then after Cable Bay, our taxi driver said, “I’ll just drop you off here and when you are done, you can leisurely take the short 10 minute walking path back to the ferry, that way you can take your time and drink, eat and relax.” The 10 minute walking path turned into a 30 minute HIKE!!
Here is our view as we left Waiheke….
This is the dock where the ferries drop us off.
Here we are at Kim Crawford, Nobilo and Coopers Creek.
Here are some other sights around the harbor in Auckland!