Trip Start Apr 18, 2011
65Trip End Dec 09, 2011
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This is NZ's biggest city- over a quarter of the kiwi population live here! Going for the obligatory wander it's hard to miss the sky tower, but having seen my fair share of cities from a great height, I opt for the street-level perspective. I can't say it looks too different to any other temperate Western city I've visited so far. However, coming from America I instantly notice the relative lack of fast-food establishments, and slowly I start to see more similarities with back home. The little things like instinctively being able to determine which way traffic will be coming from, knowing that my pint ordered will be the British standard 568ml and that people will be unafraid to refer to the toilet as 'the toilet' and not 'the restroom' - who's going to rest there anyway?
After strolling around the harbour and CBD for several hours I return back to the hostel, which although 7 storeys tall is relatively easy to make friends in (a combination of good communal areas, big dorm rooms and no free wifi)
Opting for the half price kiwi experience, I pass up the opportunity to have my own van. The $600NZ outlay puts my daily budget at a revised 25 pounds a day- pretty difficult to enjoy myself considering accommodation is generally around 15 pounds a night. Looks like my budget for NZ will just have to be a guideline, especially taking into account the price of some of the activities I want to do- hiking Mt. Doom, Maori experience, ice glacier and bungee jump coming in at least another 300 squid. I'll just have to volunteer for longer than expected in Oz.
The nightlife is interesting- passports are a must, the exchange rate of $2NZ to the pound is irrelevant when bottled beer is coming in at $8 a pop, shots occasionally come in teapots and the Maori's have a pretty bad reputation for aggression after drinking.
I make good friends with 4 southern girls in my room, but with me being distinctly older I feel like the big brother. And being the northern big brother I am constantly ridiculed- "make sure you lock your stuff up", "goin' t'shop" etc, etc. This is good though- for me a good friendship is one where you can quite happily exchange banter, or in this case low-level racism
The bridge can't compete with the heavyweights of Brooklyn and the Golden Gate, but I suppose its alright- clearly I have now elevated to the ranks of a bridge connoisseur. As such I'm tempted to do the bridge bungee, but I feel that if I'm going to do one, I might as well go big- The Nevis in Queenstown is the tallest in NZ at 134m. The walk back is interesting, courtesy of Lizzie's navigational skills we manage to walk down two spectacular dead ends; I am particularly impressed by the majesty of a car park which we walk down for 15 minutes only to realise that we must either trace our steps back or go for a swim across the harbour.
On my last full day in Auckland, my four little Southern sisters check out and I meet a new arrival, a Northern Irish gut called Brian. Rather peculiarly he is a graduate of Manchester University, he too has just arrived from travelling North America and he is also looking to do the Kiwi experience. A pretty big coincidence- but I suppose travelling is full of those.
So we're off to do the Kiwi tomorrow and I get the feeling this could be the start of a wonderful bromance- either that, or Brian's just trying to get close enough to end my life. Ahh the mystery of travelling.