Tuesday, 21 October 2008

25th September Auckland and the Environs (part II)

(Yes, I *did* start writing this 3 weeks ago - I'm sorry!!)

On the Thursday, we met up with my great aunt, cousin and his girlfriend for lunch. I'd met Aunt Judy before, when she came over to England a few years ago with her husband (unfortunately, he was working whilst we were in NZ, and we didn't get to see him at all), but I'd never met Morgan nor his girlfriend, Ana at all.

We met up in a suburb of Auckland called Takapuna, fortunately one which had outdoor parking (this became a *big* consideration when we really got on the road - how to park a large wheel-base van had never really crossed my mind before!) I had slight qualms about this meet up, as the car park itself was huge, and we hadn't arranged an exact spot to meet. My memory for faces is also a little bit hazy, so I had visions of not actually being able to find my great aunt. Fortunately, as we turned the engine off on the van, she knocked on the window (reasoning, quite rightly, that we would be the only people in a campervan at that time of day!) It didn't take long before Morgan and Ana caught up with us, and we wandered off looking for somewhere to have lunch. After a stroll round the suburb, we ended up at a glorious cafe which had outdoor (though in an arcade, so still protected from the elements) seating. We had a fantastic meal and a lovely chat - even though we were pretty much strangers when we met, it felt like we had known each other for years, and that we were just picking up a conversation that had been left off a couple of days before.

After lunch, Judy headed back home, and Morgan and Ana took us into Auckland for a spot of sightseeing. After a walk round the SkyTower, which charged quite a bit for admission, and as we weren't all that fussed about going up, we satisfied ourselves with taking photos from underneath:

and then going down to the harbour.

Auckland is known as the City of Sails, due to the number of (very rich) people who own yachts / gin palaces etc; unfortunately, most of them were not in the harbour when we visited, and we were instead treated to the sight of some rather less picturesque fishing boats and dredgers!

Once we'd wandered around for a little bit, taking in most of the central area, Morgan and Ana hit on a very good idea of how to see the best bits of a city when you don't have much time or a huge amount of money - Auckland has a circular line bus which goes through most of the areas. This was a brilliant way of spending an hour or so - we got all of the landmarks pointed out, though, as we were in one of those buses which has an advert on the side, I couldn't get any more photos.

After the ride, we stopped for a coffee, and then walked back to the bus stop, rather sadly passing by the ambulances and the crowds as they worked to try to save this man. It does say something, though, about the levels of serious crime in New Zealand that this stabbing, something which would make a minor line in a UK bulletin, was on the front page of all the papers for a week afterwards.

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