Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand

Four days before my husband, Dan, and I were scheduled to fly to Auckland on January 31st, the Auckland International Airport closed because of flooding. It was reported that the city received 75 percent of its usual summer rainfall in fifteen hours, resulting in flash floods. Some of those caught in the floodwaters had to be rescued in kayaks, others were evacuated, and four people died. We read the news, horrified at the damage and loss of life. Was our trip canceled? We didn’t know. We perched on the edge of our mental seats waiting for updates on our flight status.

Fortunately, the rain let up and the airport reopened two days before we were scheduled to leave. We heaved a sigh of relief. After a thirteen-hour flight and losing a day in transit, we arrived safely on February 2nd. We had cloudy skies and some rain showers, but the torrential downpours were done, at least for  the moment.

We checked into our room at the City Life Auckland Hotel, only to discover our room already occupied. Back down at the desk an embarrassed clerk, anxious to make up for the error, assigned us the executive suite instead. We really enjoyed the floor-to-ceiling window views of the city and the full kitchen and wished we had more than one night there.

The executive suite at City Life Auckland Hotel

We walked the streets near the hotel while dodging raindrops, wandering a couple of blocks to the waterfront. We could see evidence of the damage and reconstruction resulting from the floods. Although most of the city is modern, we saw a couple of historic buildings. Those are always my favorite.

After returning to the hotel, we met my sister and her husband for a glass of wine and then walked together to the Sky Tower for dinner. Along the way we snapped photos of the colorful Lunar New Year displays at a nearby hotel.

The food and view at Orbit 360 restaurant at the top of the Sky Tower were incredible. The restaurant rotates, giving you a complete 360-degree view of the city while you’re dining. It was a great introduction to the city. It must be stunning on a sunny day.

Me and Dan at Orbit 360

Auckland views from Orbit 360

A bit bleary-eyed after a sleepless night on the plane, we were ready to call it a night. The next day we were driving to Matamata for our Hobbiton tour, so aimed to get our body clocks adjusted to New Zealand time. Optimistic fools! Back in our room, we were treated to a view of the Sky Tower wearing a rainbow of colors.

Sky Tower at night

After leaving Auckland we planned to spend just one more night on the North Island before boarding the ferry to the South Island. This turned out to be fortuitous planning. A Category 3 cyclone (that’s what they call a hurricane in the South Pacific) hit Auckland with high winds and more flooding, resulting in power outages, closed roads, and hundreds of people being rescued from rooftops. We were extremely lucky to avoid all of this, although not all of our trip would turn out to be smooth sailing.

Have you ever experienced a natural disaster while traveling? If so, I’d love to hear from you! Comment here or email me at HEIDILELIASON@GMAIL.COM.

6 thoughts on “Avoiding Disaster in Auckland, New Zealand

  1. I love this blog post, keep going! You know I was worried about you while you were gone and can’t wait to hear the rest of the story.

    Liked by 1 person

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