|The drive to Auckland is about 3 hours and once you get on to the motorway (yes, there is one!) it becomes very busy and incredibly confusing to find your way. The exits are marked by number on the road signs but not on the map, where they are marked by area and road name which is about as much use a chocolate teapot.
We are staying in a suburb called Parnell which is about 30 minutes walk outside the city centre and has lots of nice shops and decent looking eateries. We did only manage to find one pub, an Irish bar of course, called The Bog. Every single place here has at least one, generally named something O' something's for that genuine Irish charm. Despite being an Irish pub in NZ, it did serve a half descent pint although Mad asked for a Tia Maria which caused a bit of chaos as the barman didn't know how much to put in a measure, or where it was on the till!
The next day was our one full day in Auckland. We walked into town, through the park and up past the University. The Uni was pretty busy as we discovered it was graduation day so lots pf people in caps and gowns wandering around. As part of the ceremony all the graduates get to walk in a procession through the city centre, preceded by... bagpipes!! Arrrgh! What the heck is it with bagpipes in this place?? We stopped to watch them anyway and then went on to the Sky Tower. It's the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere, we suspect purposely built only 3 metres taller than the one in Sydney just because they could! It's also the 12th tallest tower in the world and offers the opportunity to bungy jump from about two-thirds of the way up. (Steve declined this one) It's a forward facing drop but you are suspended between 2 wires so not a true bungy but still a pretty pant-filling activity. The viewing deck is 49 storey's up and we got a guided tour which helped as our guide pointed out all the landmarks from each compass point, occasionally accompanied by bungy-ist sailing past the window. You can also go up to another viewing level, a further 10 storey's up which has floor to ceiling glass with no joins for an uninterrupted view. We had a coffee in the revolving restaurant, which the guide claims can be speeded up or slowed down although we're not sure why you would want to speed it up, apart from the obvious comedy factor of course. Steve wanted it to go so fast that the tables would need to be on the windows - for some reason, this idea was greeted with derision. Over coffee we consulted the Book of Words to see where to go for lunch. Sadly we couldn't agree so first stop was Pie Mania and second stop Raw Power for fruit juice & tofu burgers. Shouldn't be too hard for you to guess whose choice was whose! After lunch we took the ferry to Devonport which is a 12 minute journey across the harbour. It's absolutely gorgeous there with lots of beautiful beachfront houses and quirky little shops all built around 2 old volcanoes.
In the evening we went out to eat in Parnell, a really good little pizza place with cocktails to boot, before the task of packing for the next leg of our journey. In fact we have acquired a fair few things and have had to buy another case to fit it all in!