New Zealand 2003 travel blog

Auckland Centre

Kate's mussels

Straight after we landed we raced to the transfer desk to try and make sure our bags didn't head back to Tonga. After a while they told us to head down to baggage reclaim and once we got down there it was a little surreal as there was nobody else around in this huge space except for us and a few guys who were dressed like Canadian Mounties. It turned out that they were, in fact, airport security guards and we got chatting to them while we waited for our bags to show up. Already we begun to get our first taste of New Zealand hospitality as they asked all about where we'd come from. Once our bags showed up and we walked through customs, even the security guys there were so impressed with how clean our camping gear and boots were that they didn't bother disinfecting our stuff at all.

Even the people at the visitor information booth were very helpful - although on second thoughts that's what they're paid for. Nevertheless, within minutes we had our accommodation sorted for three nights and transport to get us there, all paid for there and then. Soon a little Shuttle service minivan scooped us up and we headed into town, with a few other passengers on board. It was too early to start any conversations so we just took in the city through the window.

We drove through the sprawling suburbs, which Kate reckoned had a distinct resemblance to Canada. The two-storey weatherboard houses with corrugated iron roofs did have that pioneer feel about them but they were quite handsome buildings too. As we got further into town, the cityscape (especially with the Sky Tower looking like the CN tower) certainly began to look and feel a little like Toronto.

Kate had decided (quite rightly) that we deserved to stay at one of the plushest places in town so we could recover in comfort and get ourselves sorted. Certainly the Stamford Plaza on Albert Street was very plush and somewhat at odds with our dishevelled, backpacker appearance. The concierge quickly took our bags of us and hid them from view while we sheepishly checked in. It turned out that we had been given an Executive Suite on the seventh floor which came with various perks - primarily a private lounge to have breakfast in and free email. The room was indeed very well appointed (in Estate Agent speak) and the "his and hers" dressing gowns were soon donned and we fell into the sleep of the dead for the next 4 hours.

By six we decided that we should nip out briefly and explore the locale, and we soon stubmbled across the Occidental Belgian Beer Cafe - same idea as Belgo's but much more authentic in character I felt. Although not a fan myself, Kated tucked into a massive bowl of Green Lipped mussels, a further indication of the "similar but different" feel to the place we were getting.

However, we soon felt Jet Lag tap us on the shoulder and insist that we go back to bed. So we did.

Best Moment of the Day: Sleeping

Best LOTR moment of the Day: Sleeping

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