We know a little star called Becky, who seemed to claim insanity temporarily and offer to drive us to the airport (that's Auckland airport, 120 k's away) before she started college at 10am. She was a diamond, despite the fact her car wasn't happy and turned the indicator on permanently causing smoke appeared from underneath the steering column half way there! After a quick fumble around underneath Dan managed to remove the fuse responsible for causing the debacle and onwards we continued without indicators!
We were nice and early for our flight so we grabbed a sneaky breakfast from McDonalds before boarding a plane with about five normal people and the rest fans going to a particular heavy metal concert that evening. Most people were wearing old gig t-shirts and could be spotted a mile away, others were more subtle but when the pilot mentioned the band in question 98% of the plane cheered. We were even given a special treat from the cabin crew who decided to play Nothing Else Matters on the PA system just before we landed. Sweet as!
We disembarked the plane and walked straight past the baggage claim only having hand luggage with us and went and investigated shuttles. We found one that would take us straight to our hotel and was relatively cheap so on we climbed and waited a few minutes for some more customers before we were on our way.
We drove for 20 minutes before we reached the city and for the first 15 minutes there was nothing out of the ordinary then we started to notice roof tiles missing on roof tops, chimneys that had crumpled and as we got nearer to the centre the damage from the earthquake two weeks earlier was definitely noticeable. Shops were closed as building were roped off, not structurally safe. Roads were closed because there were cracks in the middle of them, or buildings may fall at any moment. It was so sad to see what looked to be a charming place literally crumbling around us.It really was a miracle no one died.
We were dropped off at our hotel, which was right next to the pedestrian area just a couple of blocks down from Cathedral Square and we checked in and left our bag in our room and headed back out. We had a walk around the shops as I was desperate to replace my jeans which at five years old were starting to split. I managed to find a nice pair at a price I would pay at home and was happy. We had a sandwich for lunch and went back to the hotel for an afternoon nap seeing as we had been up since 5:30am and we knew we would have a late night ahead of us.
Stu and Tracy arrived just before 6pm and we met them in the bar for a beer before catching a taxi to the venue. We had a bit of a mess up with the tickets because I had purposely bought tickets from a website similar to ebay for the same section of the arena that our friends had. Unfortunately the person I bought them from had misinformed me (by accident) and our tickets were for the front section, not the back. When we arrived we tried to swap them so we remained together but we weren't allowed to so we stood at the back of the front section and the Archer's based themselves at the front of the back half and although there was a massive barrier between us we had a good time. Metallica really were awesome and they put on a good show They were on for almost two and a half hours and although I only knew two of the songs they played I really enjoyed myself. Dan and I went slightly crazy jumping around when they played Enter Sandman, and it was brilliant to hear the song I've heard so many times live by it's original owners, although the Lettuceheads did do a bloody good job at our wedding. Fond memories of the best day of our lives came flooding back and it was nice to share this little moment with Stu and Tracy who were gutted they couldn't make it.
After the gig was over we flagged a taxi down to take us back to the city centre and we were shown how to have a good night Kiwi style. We went to a couple of bars and saw some bands, one terrible and one pretty good and some sambucca and a lot of beer, rum and bourbon were consumed before we found McDonalds (again) and staggered back to the hotel at 3am. I was so grateful for my nap earlier!
Poor Tracy had to get up earlier than the rest of us as she was on a course in Christchurch for work so she left the three of us in the bar to have some hangover food and then we went and explored a little. We found the river and the canal next to the park boundary and then we walked up to the main square where the Cathedral was and had a look inside. Stu and I chatted to one of the volunteers who told us the Cathedral had splashed out several years ago to have some work done to make the building earthquake proof and it seemed to have worked, they only has one small crack in one of the arches but it hadn't caused structural damage and was easily repairable.
We found a different shuttle service that operated to and from the Square, which was alot cheaper than the already reasonable service we caught yesterday so we booked a couple of seats on that to take us to the airport for our mid afternoon flight and the three of us had a really delicious Guinness Steak Pot pie in an Irish Bar before we left Stu to wait a little longer for his wife before flying home that evening.
Our flight was delayed ninety minutes, which is just what you need when you're not feeling brilliant and to top it off I suffered really badly when the plane started descending. A combination of a bad cold and exceptionally loud music had made my ears very sore and sensitive. I wasn't the only one and could see several other people trying to force their ears to pop to ease the pressure. It wasn't pleasant and it took a couple of hours for the pain to subside after we had finally landed.
As we were collecting our campervan in the morning from Auckland we spent another night in the large wet city. We stayed at a different hostel this time as we managed to find somewhere slightly cheaper and after checking in we went and sampled Kiwi style Nandos. I have to say we weren't very impressed. The food wasn't quite the same and we weren't convinced it was to the same standard of the English restaurants, but that's fine, it gives us an excuse to eat some native food!