Land of Sheep

Trip Start May 08, 2006
Trip End May 06, 2007

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Sunday, June 25, 2006

After arriving in Auckland I caught the shuttle bus to Auckland Central Backpackers meeting Nick from Leeds, and Katerina from Germany on the way. We all checked in and then I used the evening to do some washing and some other riveting pursuits. The hostel is HUGE and is always buzzing with people. The place has its own travel desk, job centre internet cafe and bar - which held karaoke nights, club nights and 18-30 style competitions on stage.

This was a fantastic base to explore the city as it was right downtown and close to all the major attractions. It was also the start of a tremendous amount of disorganisation on my part as to what I should be doing in New Zealand, and when I should be doing it. The U.S. was pretty straightforward really. I had an unlimited train pass, and a month to go from one side of the country to the other so all I had to do was decide where to go, see all the sights I could, then go to the next place... But I have 4 months here, the country is much smaller with exponentially fewer people, and somewhere along the line I have to find a job - supposedly in a ski resort but that is seeming less likely by the day.

Anyway, I visited the main sights and attractions in Auckland including the museum, the art gallery, the Sky Tower and the Minus 5 bar. The museum was a massive building that looked like a manor house, with steps leading up to huge columns supporting the roof and opening into a hall containing more columns and balconies lining the walls. The whole thing was situated right in the middle of one of the city's major parks, and looked decidedly picturesque. Had it not been freezing cold it would be a nice place to have a picnic. The inside held a number of displays including Maori culture, the natural world, and details of New Zealand's involvement with the 1st and 2nd world wars.

The art gallery was pretty plain when compared to the likes of the London Art Gallery. I wasn't really interested in the visiting exhibition so I only saw 1 floor of artwork, and most of that was etchings. Still, some of it was fantastic and you can't complain when it's free.

While I was sitting in the lounge at ACB I got chatting to a couple of people which eventually became a group of 5. We all decided to go down to the Minus 5 bar which I have been banging on about ever since I saw the pictures. A WHOLE BAR MADE OF ICE. That includes the tables, the seats, the bar, the bartender. It was $27 to go in but that included one of the nicest cocktails I have ever tried in my life. Mmmmm. After that we did a bit of bar hopping before eventually ending up in the Globe Bar (the hostel one) watching a girl refuse to lick the chocolate off a Crunchie held by a guy in a rather dubious position. All in the name of entertainment of course, and with a midget on the stage. That alone made it worthwhile to watch.
The next day I went up the Sky Tower with Nick after I had received a free ticket for staying 4 nights at the hostel. We were up there long enough to watch a couple of crazy people jump off the top, and to stand untrustingly on the glass floor which was apparently "as strong as concrete". Yeah right whatever. IT'S GLASS. IT BREAKS. It took a lot of effort to let go of the handrail and take the picture. Lord knows how I will manage to do a bungy jump when the time comes.

After I had exhausted Auckland's tourist attractions I booked a coach to go up to Paihia in the Bay of Islands and left the next day.
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