Auckland, 25th - 30th July 2010
Well this one isn't going to take very long.
We arrived in Auckland early Sunday evening to a cold, dark & raining sky. The warmth of Fiji disappearing in an instant - I suppose I can kiss the tan goodbye then. :( We got the bus to the hostel which dropped us off right outside and the whole way there I could have sworn we were driving through the Medway Towns.
America had a lot of similarities to England - I'd say 25% similar & 75% different, but New Zealand is completely the opposite, and maybe even a bit more so. Once we got to the hostel and checked into our windowless dorm (I'll come back to that in a sec) we went and grabbed a bite to eat at a Chinese restaurant. We we're staying right in the city centre so it's real handy for getting around, and the city is tiny so it doesn't take very long to get anywhere at all.
The next day we decided to go do some winter clothes shopping and we started off with a Coffee in Starbucks - hey you've got to start somewhere right and Starbucks is as good a place as any. :) So we're sitting in Starbucks, opposite a Lloyd's bank, having just walked past Body Shop, Footlocker & Wallis and noticing that we're even back to everyone driving on the same side of the road as us. Mix that with the autumnal weather (even though it's the middle of their winter), and that I've got a cold, and I'm actually starting to get a bit homesick. :(
So after our coffees we hit the shops and both brought green coats with a hood. We didn't mean to do this but as we only need them for 6 weeks we didn't want to spend a lot of money on them. Seriously, it's bad enough that we spend all day and night together, say the same things at the same time and think the same random things at the same time, but we weren't content with that. Oh no, now we've got the same bloody style coats just to confuse everyone even more. Seriously - we are not a couple, really we're not. Anyway, we finished off our new outfits with a hat, scarf and gloves each to keep ourselves nice and toasty. I also brought some sunglasses which is rather an odd combination, but considering my aviators now fall off my head as soon as I put them on, I think it is time for them to go to sunglasses heaven.
We booked our place on the Magic Bus which is how we are going to be getting around both the North & South New Zealand islands. It's like a hop on hop off bus but it travels around the whole of the country and it even includes a ferry from the North to the South island. We're leaving on Friday morning and heading south to Rotorua.
So what else did we get up to whilst in Auckland? Not a huge amount really. We went to the cinema a couple of times and watched 'Get him to the Greek' with Russell Brand which is absolutely hilarious 'clench and sneeze, clench and sneeze' hehehe. We also saw Eclipse, hmmm team Edward or Team Jacob - I'm actually liking the beefed up Vampire brother - ooooh hello, but then I've always had a thing for Vampires. ;)
We had a really nice meal in a revolving restaurant called Orbit at the top of the Sky Tower. It's apparently the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere which really surprised us because although it is tall, it doesn't look that tall. Anyways, we actually had bit of a result with this night out. We were going to go up to the observation deck which cost $28 each (about £14) and I remembered a taxi driver in Vegas saying you could just go up to the bar in the Stratosphere without paying, so we thought we'd give it a try here. We booked a table at the restaurant and sure enough entry to the Observation Deck was included. We got the Chef's Special set menu which was a 3 course meal including 2 glasses of wine each and it was absolutely gooooooorgeous. The whole thing came to $65 (£32) which we both thought was an absolute bargain for the Observation deck, a 3 course meal and wine.The revolving part was pretty weird though and it was proper confusing trying to leave the restaurant as everything had moved round (the bit in the middle with the kitchen and bar stayed still and only the outer part where all the tables were actually revolved).
So on our last day we thought we would take a boat ride around some of Auckland's local islands and the Harbour. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon and to see the local area, although it was absolutely freezing and we both sat on the top deck wrapped up in our coats, hats and scarfs drinking hot chocolate. Once we had been round the harbour we caught the Ferry over to Devonport which is a little island full of Victorian architecture. It's a really pretty place and reminded me of a cross between Devon and the Isle of Wight.
So after that we picked up a pizza and headed back to what we had lovingly nicknamed "our broom cupboard". It did make me laugh that we'd gone from a 4 star hotel to something that resembled a storage room! I remember when we first started travelling I didn't even want to stay in a dorm, then we did and it was absolutely fine. Then we stayed in a dorm without a bathroom - takes a bit of getting use to but again you adapt, but now we're staying in a dorm, with no bathroom and not even a window! It was dirt cheap - bang in the city centre for £15 a night and we slept like babies as there was no light in the room, but it constantly expected to come back one day and find it full of cleaning products. Thankfully we had it to ourselves other than the first couple of nights and I really didn't mind it as it was clean. I'm sure it's not going to be the worst place we stay - I think Asia is going to be something else!
I've also downloaded a load of music for my ipod as we're now going to be doing a lot of travelling on coaches and my music collection desperately needed updating. Has any decent stuff been released at home lately? We don't really get to listen to the radio so have no idea what's in the charts.
We leave for Rotorua tomorrow morning and have heard it is a Geothermal wonderland full of hot springs, geysers and bubbling mud pools. :) I can't wait to get out there and start exploring New Zealand!