I arrived in Auckland. I might have well arrived home, in the airport even before the baggage claim a lovely lady behind a stand offers you a free cup of tea or coffee. First thing in the morning after a long nights flight this is just what is needed. So I wandered through immigration and baggage reclaim sloshing my near scolding tea across my hands, baggage and pristine clean floor.
I caught a bus down town to the Auckland Central Backpackers
. Met a couple from Cardiff/Isle of Wight as I got off the bus they were on their way to the ACB as well. The ACB is the largest and most commercial hostel I have ever seen, over 600 beds, a huge Internet cafe and a kitchen that is a strange cross between a busy restaurant and a student kitchen. Unfortunately I couldn't stay there. After chatting with Steve and Kerry whilst waiting till 11am for the check-in hour the hostel had filled up - reservations from somewhere had flooded in, apparently sitting in the reception waiting for a room gives you less chance of getting one than phoning. Fortunately I found a room at the City Central Backpackers (website doesn't work)
- smaller and at first glance friendlier.
Auckland is a city, population around 1.3 million, hub of the New Zealand economy, largest airport, tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere. But, 1.3 million people and the city centre is only the size of a 400,000 population sized city back home in England, (desperately searching for examples), similar sized to say .... later. This seems to disappoint some people, expecting bigger and brighter lights.
So what did I get up to in Auckland, not a lot. First day I decided that having entered New Zealand a fit and healthy country I would buy some running shoes and get fit again. Bought shoes, ran, found it really hard work and realised how out of shape I have become over the past 5 months of travel. Night out in Auckland, the Embargo - under the CCB, followed by the Irish Pub on the trendy Vulcan Street.
I had arranged to meet up with Steve and Kerry over the next few days, head down to the America's Cup watch some of the race and look at yachts. The GBR team were knocked out of the America's Cup whilst we sat and sipped
beer. Apparently (Steve knows from people in the Isle of Wight) the team had only spent £5 million getting to this stage and to do well in the America's Cup requires 10 times this amount.
The Sky Tower is the most impressive building in Auckland, seen from just about anywhere in the city giving the skyline a futuristic spaceport feel. At night the whole area is lit up. Inside, for $13 NZ you can get right to the top viewing floor, one of the best features is the over hanging nature of the building and the glass floor. Standing on it is quite weird, jumping on it is worse, about 200m down to the ground, easily enough time to reach terminal velocity.
I spent the next few days, running and working in the daytime, working on this and other websites, the evenings drinking and going out. I met - Jamie Allen - he served me a beer, I didn't recognise him until he said but he was in my year at Paston Sixth Form College, grew up in Cromer - small world.
The museum in Domain Park is really worth a visit, charts the history of both
New Zealand and Auckland, includes a nice exhibition on Sir Edmund Hillary. I only spent an hour in there on this trip but I'm going to be back in Auckland probably fairly - sorting out Visa's for Oz and travelling around.
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