A terrible picture taken on the cell phone at the concert
For Avery's birthday, we bought her a ticket to see Linkin Park in concert in Auckland. Avery was planning on going with a friend (Vicki) and her chaperone and fellow Linkin Park fan, Victor. I thought I would tag along. As with any major trip, we first headed over the hill to Christchurch. Both Avery and Vicki were quite nauseated and we had to pull over a couple of times to avoid an "in-car" incident. While I am sure that my driving is partly to blame, the high centre of gravity on the Land Cruiser isn't helping.
After a quick meal we caught Hair Spray at the movie theatre. It was a surprisingly good and almost perfectly cast movie. John Travolta's performance as Edna Turnblad was spectacular (particularly in the scene where he is dancing with Christopher Walken).
The next day Avery and I headed up to Auckland first thing (Vicki and Victor followed later in the day). The airport check in was reminiscient of pre-9/11 air travel - we checked in electronically, a quick trip through security and onto the plane (15 minutes from arrival at the airport to sitting in the plane). No photo id necessary and Avery was able to take a huge bottle of moisturizer in her carry on. This may change with the recent round-up of several Kiwis involved in running an alleged "training camp" near the Ureweras in the Central North Island.
We spent the afternoon walking around Devonport which is a seaside suburb of Auckland across the Waitemata Harbour from the central business distrtict. A regular ferry service shuttles back and forth. Devonport is one of the oldest settlements in the area dating back to the 1840s. It is set amongst three volcanic cones: Mount Victoria, North Head and between them Mount Cambria (now largely quarried away). Devonport Naval Base is also located here, and is the primary base for the Royal New Zealand Navy. In fact New Zealand’s newest and largest vessel , the HMNZS Cantebury was in port following the recent tragic drowning of a NZ sailor. The neighbourhood is filled with well kept, period Kiwi homes whose well tended gardens were in full Spring bloom.
We walked up to the top of Mt. Victoria the highest volcano on the North Shore (more like a hill). Over the years, Mt. Victoria has been the site of a signal station for shipping, artillery emplacements and various concrete army bunkers, some from as early as the 1870s. One bunker now serves as the venue for the Devonport Folk Club. Amongst the old fortifications was another "disappearing gun" (see entries for Hong Kong, Signapore, and Dunedin). Sadly, the novelty of a disappearing gun seems to have worn off for Avery, so we headed over to the offer volcanic cone known as North Head. Here too was a significant fort structure with many tunnels and old observation posts and gun emplacements.
We ultimately headed back on the Ferry and met up with Victor and Viki for a superb steak dinner in Auckland at the Angus Steak House. An unassuming restraunt located in the basement of a building by the docks. You pick your slab of beef and it is cooked up on a grill to your liking. Certainly one of the best pieces of meat I have had in New Zealand.
After dinner, Avery and Co. went to the Linkin Park concert, while I walked over to the Sky City Casino. The concert was by all reports excellent. Avery bought a tee-shirt for $45. Sweatshirts were $80. The casino was a bit bare but is in the middle of a much needed overhaul. I left with $100 more than I came with, so I can't really complain.
On Saturday, we did a bit of shopping and ended up seeing Rush Hour 3 before flying back - a very mediocre movie.
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