New Zealand - it's just like home!

Trip Start Sep 22, 2011
Trip End Aug 11, 2012

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Where I stayed
Ponsonby Backpackers Auckland
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Friday, November 11, 2011

Hello from country number five, New Zealand. Hopefully this set of entries will be sort and sharp as I'm hoping we can do ones for most of the places we visit here in NZ. That's not to say I won't be rambling, but hopefully they be more digestible than some of my lengthier entries from South America.

So here we are in Auckland. We left Santiago on Tuesday night and arrived here on Thursday morning. I'm just glad that Wednesday wasn't my birthday. The flight was with LAN airlines and was infinitely better than our Iberia flight out here. For starters the food was edible and the seats all had individual TVs in the headrests in front. The flight was fine but we arrived at 4:30 am to some shocking weather. We had just come from 30 degree heat and blue sky sunshine and landed in howling wind, drizzling rain and about 8 degrees C. Nice!
Once through the minefield that is customs we revelled in the fact that we could again read all the signs and talk to who we like and understand their response. It's the little things. We got ourselves a shuttle bus from the airport that dropped us off outside our hostel. We were staying at Ponsonby Backpackers and as I was early morning still had be told previously just to let ourselves in and make ourselves at home. For Alex this meant curling up on the massive sofas and going straight to sleep. I soon followed but first was use as a bell boy for a couple of Asian women who's suitcases were so big that I could barely carry them, so how they usually manage I have no idea.
After an hour or so we were up and sorted ourselves out with the hostel owner. The hostel was really clean and spacious and we had the added luxury of being upgrade to their twin cabin. Apparently this was just because he was feeling generous, whatever the reason we weren't going to argue as we were meant to be in a four bed dorm.
We left the hostel around 8 am and headed to the nearest coffee shop where we indulged in a much needed proper cup of tea. We hadn't found one throughout South America and so this one was bliss. We also had a cheeky muffin and claimed it as breakfast. We then jumped on the local link bus which runs around the city and costs very little. The weather at this point had stopped raining and was starting to brighten up. We headed into the centre of town and went in search of a Wearhouse (big cheap shop that sells everything). We were now searching for our new home for the next five weeks... a tent! After having a look around we ha a wander up Queens street and then had a look around a little art gallery on the corner of Albert Park. The gallery itself had the normal array of pretty pictures, old oil landscapes and modern 'art', that I obviously just don't understand (an upside-down wheel barrow in the middle of a White room is not art!), but the main price that drew us in was a massive inflatable flower arrangement that hung from the ceiling in the main hall. Each flower would move independently as it was inflated and deflated and the effect, coupled with the design and colours made a stunning visual display.

Following the art museum we found that jaglag was really starting to kick in but we were determine to stay awake as long as possible. We had a brief wander around Albert Park before heading down to the harbour front. The sun was now fully out and the views across the harbour were awesome. We had a bit of a walk and found something new to add to my Christmas present wish list, a 75 foot luxury super yacht called Ocean Victory. Is was a beauty, but I'm pretty sure my dad'll be stingy and say no!
Thursday evening we fought off jetlag for a little longer and did a supermarket shop and had dinner before we finally succumbed and hit the pit around 9 o'clock. I'm pretty sure I then slept continuously for the next 12 hours, nice!

Friday morning we were greeted by stunning blue skis. The rain had well and truly gone and the shorts and flip flops were back out. Today we decided was going to involve a little culture. First off we caught the bus and headed to Mt Eden, which is one of the many extinct volcanoes around Auckland and offers incredible views from it's summit. We walked up and got the camera out. From the top you got a panoramic view of the city and could see both coasts either side of the island. You also got an awesome view of the CBD (Central Business District), with it's tall buildings and the skytower and the bridge and harbour in the background.
Once down from the volcano we walked to the meusem buy not before we'd done a little window shopping and had some well deserved ice-cream.
The museum itself is a very impressive building that sits alone on a hill overlooking the city. Inside were some excellent Mauri and Pacific-Islander exhibits, nature galleries and a volcano section where they have a simulator room showing what would happen / what will happen one day, when one of the local volcanos bursts back into life. It was no Orlando themepark ride, but interesting no the less. I'm just hoping it doesn't happen any time soon so that we're nowhere near here!
After the museum we wandered into town again, had a brief look around the base of the Sky Tower, before going back up to the hostel.
We decided to treat ourselves tonight with a meal out down by the harbour. We could have spent a fortune but went for the modestly priced Waterfront restaurant. The food was excellent too. Luckily we decided to share our seafood chowder starter as it was enough to feed about four people. We polished it off though. For mains we had a couple of fish dishes which were again very tasty and by this point we were far too full and feeling the effects of jetlag kicking in again. We finished off our wine and had a very nice walk back to the hostel. A very enjoyable evening.

Tomorrow we are picking up the hire car, buying the rest of our camping kit and setting off North to the Bay of Islands. Really looking forward to driving ourselves around and just hoping we get a car big enough to fit all our junk in. Here's hoping!

That wasn't really a short, digestible entry but I'll try again next time :-)

Hope you are all well.
Love us two
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My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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