NZ and SYD

I've been supporting New Zealand as part of my job for almost seven years now and just finally travelled there for work a couple weeks before Christmas.  Normally I would have jumped at the chance to go, but we had our house electrical appointment scheduled for that week so I tried to get out of the trip.  Unfortunately, and fortunately, I couldn't and found myself meeting a coworker from the US there for a couple days in New Plymouth.  
Auckland from the plane
Auckland from the plane
Phil and I had driven past New Plymouth while on vacation - enough to see the Mount Taranaki Volcano that stands out from the surrounding green fields.  A good way to get through jet lag is to go for a walk, so after meeting up with my coworker we took a short drive to the base of the volcano and had a nice walk along the base.  The top had been covered with clouds, but for a few brief minutes the clouds parted and we finally got to see the peak.
The clouds finally parted 
The base of Mt Taranaki

We drove back towards town until I saw a sign for a lake and decided to check it out.  Turns out it was Lake Mangamahoe, a really pretty lake filled with swans and ducks with the volcano in the background.  We stopped and walked around for a bit to soak up the scenery before we had to get back to civilisation.
Lake Mangamahoe
Father Goose hissing at us while baby geese crossed the road 
These ducks came running towards the car when we pulled up
Lake and Volcano
Ducks, Lake, and Volcano
The next two days we drove back and forth to the dairy where we had our meetings.  It was interesting learning about the milk curve - how peak milk production is in spring when the grass is high and then it tapers off once summer hits and the fields dry up.  The major downside to working at the dairy was smelling cheese all day but having to skip lunch because our meeting ran long.

We finished up with those meetings and headed across the pond to Sydney for some more meetings to finish off the week.  Our hotel was 5 minutes from Circular Quay, so we took a quick detour so I could catch a glimpse of the Habour Bridge and Opera House before I headed to the airport.  With the holidays so close, it was swarming with people busy enjoying their holidays down under.
Doing donuts off the coast 
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Opera House
Sydney Panorama
The trip went quickly and soon it was time to get back home and finish off our house business before the holiday craziness began.

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