Vern: Our flight landed in Auckland just after 4am. New Zealand's customs officials confiscated our powdered milk - a key component of the trusty coffee kit which by hook or by crook we'd assembled and carried around South America with us to maximize our chances of a daily caffeine fix. We considered making a big scene, a performance worthy enough to get us onto "Border Patrol", (the reality show set in this very customs hall where the Kiwi Officials take stuff away from tourists in the name of protecting the country's biodiversity and visitors get angry and emotional and burst into tears when there $400 Indonesian tribal mask gets hauled off to the incinerator) but it was early and filming hadn't started.
We arrived in downtown Auckland at around 5am and the streets were still busy with last night's clubbers congregating outside of kebab shops. Too early to check in to the hostel, we settled into the common room couches until the sun came up, then went up to the roof terrace for a cup of coffee and a view of the modern sky scrapers and the harbour. Later we over-estimated our navigational prowess and attempted to do the walking tour in our guidebook backwards because the last stop was nearby where we were. The harbour, spotless and lined with seafood restaurants, was riddled with families enjoying the sunny but crisp winter day and we took in a posh little shopping district and two parks before getting lost on the Auckland University campus grounds and abandoning our walk.
We winced when the cashier rung up a tin of pasta sauce which cost the same amount as a nights accommodation in Bolivia, then made our way back to the hostel for a simple meal. Afterward we investigated the hostel's advertised 'spa' facilities having never heard of a hostel offering anything like this. On the roof terrace we found a hot tub.. erm.. luke warm tub, in full view of the Deloitte sky-rise and I wondered if those thirty floors of accountants in suits three shades of grey look down on the terrace full of colourful backpackers and long for a little escape. Or if the Porche in the parking garage is enough. We fizzled in the cool bubbles for as long as we could face then wandered inside to find the sauna. The little wooden room hadn't been used in a while and wasn't warm or steamy so for twenty minutes like the apes in '2001: A Space Odyssy' we prodded, poked, banged, twisted and threw water at the contraption in the corner until it started eminating heat and eventually steam. And there we sat for a while sweating and trying to stay awake in the warm mist to ward off jet-lag. We didn't last long though and after a shower we went to sleep in the early evening. Of course at 4am the next morning we were wide awake.