Auckland - Or is it Glasgow?!

Trip Start Nov 14, 2008
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Trip End Mar 10, 2009


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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Monday, November 24, 2008

Had a great flight with Quantas over/down to Auckland. Had really comfy seats, nice food and as we were in a weird row with only 3 seats (in the middle) rather than 4 I actually had loads of leg room to stretch out to the side without fear of the trolley taking my feet off! We also got a couple of goody bags, one with eye-mask/socks/toothbrush/toothpaste & another with water & some sweeties. As we had bought some melatonin in the airport (not available in the UK) this was combined with the old Stilnoct resulting in 9 hours of fabulous sleep.
Landing in Auckland was just like Scotland; the scenery was the same, the weather was the same(nice dreich rain) and the buildings also look similar.
Transport to the Hostel was also really easy & we opted for the supershutttle which dropped us off right at the door; what wasn't so great was being charged $45 when we later found out it should have been $36. Needless to say the company will get a nasty email & the hostel also know about it so I expect a certain driver will not be around for much longer!!!
We weren't allowed to check in until 2pm so decided to store the bags & go for a wander in the rain to stock up on foodie things. Weather yesterday was warm & wet so really not a good combination for my hair! Prices over here appear to be pretty reasonable & for once the exchange rate appears to be on our side at $2.70. Starbucks was $6.50 for 2 medium coffees & 2 muffins which is a lot less than both the UK & USA. Was a bit disturbed by the tinned corned mutton & lamb tongue on the supermarket shelves though- how disgusting!
Was nice to get checked into the Hostel, showered & get a laundry done. Jackie won it big on the slots; the washing machine coin operated slots that is! She got a $2 coin stuck in the slot & whilst trying to retrieve it was rewarded with 4 other $2 coins!
Today (Tuesday) we were going to do the coast to coast walkway but seeing as it was a nice sunny day opted for a ferry trip out to one of the gulf islands - Waiheke. What a beautiful journey, with some very amusing moments when the ferry hit some waves & sprayed the top deck to much screams! The ferry takes approx 40 minutes & you are transported through the various other Islands past very nice hillside villas & boats to a tranquil haven. There isn't much in Waiheke but I would definitely come back & stay here if I was to come to Auckland again. The island is very green with loads of sandy coves & classic wooden home & away style houses all perched on stilts overlooking the sea. There are also loads of wineries here which would be good to wander round, but our trip was only a short one. Had lunch in a great wee place called vino vino which has a patio perched on stilts facing the ocean - amazing spec. Had a lovely seafood chowder & of course a glass of local wine! The sparrows here are really gallus - wee blighters were right on the table trying to get at my bread; I thought id left the defending of my food to animals at home with George! Whats weird is that the birds are in full spring mode with very loud tweeting - quite strange to think that you lot in the UK have been suffering with snow!
I have managed to get sun-burnt today though which is really scary as we were not in direct sunshine for very long & in the afternoon it got cloudy. Although the temperature here is a lot less that what it was over in LA (I think today it got up to around 24C) the sun is way more intense due to the lack of ozone layer here; I think a warning to anyone coming here is to put the suncream on no matter what the weather.
Now back in the hostel writing this up with a odd combination of what Jackie is calling Parkinson music playing outside & mad tweeting birds. Not sure what we'll be doing tomorrow although hopefully the weather will be as nice as it was today so we can actually see where we are!

Wednesday
When sitting in a nice cake shop(great spinach & feta pots) on the Ponsomby Road, Jackie sees a sign which says "proudly baking cakes since 1989", I then comment that at some point that will seem like a long time ago in shop history stakes. Jackie then says "aye, I was only 9 then"!!!!!!

Ponsomby Road a fabulous area to wander around - lots of cafés, bars, restaurants (all be it with interesting names!) and a good collection of shops. Its on what a gather is one of Auckland's extinct volcanoes & has a fabulous view over to the city skyscrapers. There is a backpackers here - no idea what it was like inside but I think I would be more likely to want to stay here next time I visit Auckland. Ponsomby is still only a 15 minute walk downhill to the harbour area so still really close to the ferries etc.
Passed a really nice park at the start of Ponsomby - all leafy & green. The city seems to have quite a few really nice parks & they are all clean. The doggy poo bins are actually shapped like dogs so there is no missing them!

We passed some really nice apts all with plush boats sitting outside. There was one for sale which was $1.15million which equates to around £400k - tempting! Not as tempting though as the really posh boat on the other quay which had 3 stories - that's my kind of boat!

Had a nice beer(Steinlager) in Soul down on the harbour side. The waiter chap was trying to get us to sample some other local brews which were nice but still not as nice as the old Steinlager. Had a fabulous snack of snapper goujons with a spicy seafood sauce.

Hostel has been OK but been surprised at the fact this is supposedly 5* when I've stayed in a lot better in both the UK & USA. Everything is clean & there are plenty of facilities but not 5*! WIFI isn't free either but $16US dollars will buy you a weeks access at any of the YHA spots in NZ. Also surprised at the fact that the staff let people make a racket outside until well into the early hours - the bedrooms are right above the front door where the smokers congregate, on 2 of the nights music & loud drunken chat was outside until at least 3am. I expect this of a backpackers but not a YHA. For anyone looking at this hostel ask for a room facing the back of the hostel rather than the front & a peaceful sleep should follow!

Have met a really wide variety of people in here from the classic 22 year old backpacker to some really posh couple from London who must have been in their 70s! Just on our way to pick up the car for the next stage in the journey to Rotorua - updates on that to follow
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Comments

ma-and-pa
ma-and-pa on

Quality Travel
Glad your flight was comfortable for a change,and that you had some sleep.Auckland is a city we would love to visit.

Have a great time

ma & pa XXX

boyley
boyley on

Hope the hairs calmed down!!
Boak!!! definitely would be avoiding corned mutton (Oh come on!!! whats that all about!!!) and the lambs tongue and its in a tin just to make the experience even better with it being nice and congealed. Like the sound of the boat trip, scenery, chowder and of course the vino even if you have to wrestle your food from the sparrows (george could have helped out here). The setting for lunch sounds fabulous and im looking forward to seeing all the photos. No more sunburn, use that factor 50!! Hope you have more days of sunshine and look forward to more stories from both of the intrepid explorers.

ma-and-pa
ma-and-pa on

Home from home!
Always nice for something familiar - 'Scottish rain'. Obviously the rip off driver didn't know whom he was dealing with. Jackie must have the magic touch - she should branch out and try other slot machines - another new business opportunity?

We are slowly getting used to not having a furry alarm call in the morning looking for Tuna, and sparrow would make a nice change! The new cooker has arrived but typical short changing no flexible hose for connection so a carryout beckons.

The supermarket tins told a lot. Wait til you see tins of huhu grubs or goat kebabs - how delicious - all practise in 'bush tucker' at the Wild Foods Festival - conditioning for your travels further east where all kinds of delicacies await!! Beasties take their revenge.

You have painted a vivid picture of the scenery and its beauty, well worth a longer stay. Covering up against the rays seems a safe option or varying colours of sun block to suit the hair style.

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