Auckland Day 2
We managed a good nights sleep. Had breakfast in the buffet restaurant – which was very good. Decided that we would go shopping – we both needed some more summery clothes and also a long sleeved shirt would be appropriate for the fly infested areas in the South island.
We set off down to Queen Street which wasn't far away at all and managed to buy more or less all we were looking for. Margaret had told us the day before about Merino wool mixed with Possum fur which produced an exceptionally warm combination and we happened upon a very small shop that sold some beautiful garments. I fell in love with one and am now a proud owner of a very exclusive jacket come cardigan which is black and decorated with scottie dogs and edged with a single coloured tartan effect (can't describe it as good as it looks).
After taking the shopping back to the hotel we decided to walk down to the waterfront to have lunch and continue to walk along it to the west as far as we could go. We lunched at the Waterfront cafe, ordering something we thought would be light but turned out quite substantial. We watched as a fellow diner fed a cheeky sparrow by hand. It flew off with the proffered morsel and then next minute there must have been another half dozen of its friends lining up on the fence. Each dutifully got fed by hand!
There are some amazing boats lining the harbours and various jetties. There was the Queen Victoria docked next to the Hilton Hotel. The Hilton Hotel and some office blocks round about it have been constructed on a pier to make them look like a pair of cruise boats, the actual cruise boat docked alongside makes it look like 3 of them docked together. I feel sorry for the people with balconies in the Hilton – all they will get to see are the balconies of the cruise ship alongside!
After we went back to the hotel we decided to do the Sky Tower (you can't stay underneath it and not go up can you!). We dumped all our bags apart from the camera. After taking half a dozen photos though my battery ran out – so I haven't got that may taken from the sky tower where the 360° views were magnificent. If you do get a chance to go up I would suggest that you go to the uppermost viewing level, not quite as crowded. There are also 2 restaurants – you can offset your (fairly expensive) ticket price against the cost of some food.
They also have a couple of 'thrill' experiences which we watched. The first is a free fall from the top of the tower. There are 2 vertical ropes connecting the top of the tower and a platform at the bottom. There is a sling and harness that is fixed between these ropes. The vertical ropes are wound round a drum and can be left to run out, stopped and then winched back up. The thrill seeker gets strapped in the harness, dropped over the edge of the observation deck, asked to smile for the camera and then next second the latch on the drum is let off and they disappear down to the bottom. The second experience is where you have a harness which is clipped onto a beam above your head and you get to walk around the outside of the observation deck on a maintenance deck about 2 foot wide. Not for me!
We came down to go out for dinner in the evening and the lobby of the hotel was packed (mainly with Chinese getting ready to celebrate the Chinese New Year). We went across the road to the Victoria Street Bistro (VSB) and had an excellent bottle of wine (I think it was called something like Kallippo) with two beautiful meals – light but well cooked and presented. When we went to pay we got an even better surprise – if you were eating before 8 the meals were half price. Soon after we had arrived there was quite a commotion outside our hotel – it looks as though we were missing the firecrackers. But when we went back to the hotel there were 4 chinese musicians playing in the lobby – we stayed to listen to a couple of pieces they were excellent – I couldn't tell you what instruments they were playing but it's the best chinese music I think I've ever heard.
Back at our room we switched on the telly to see if we could follow any of the winter olympics and immediately saw the Georgian team coming into the parade ground with black arm bands. It wasn't till the next day we found out that a 21 year old member of their team had been killed during practice on the luge.