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Auckland and the North

A few days before our flight from Melbourne to Auckland, I got an e-mail from Air New Zealand about bidding for an upgrade on our flight, we’ve only flown economy so far this year, so I thought I would put in a bid and hope it was accepted. A few days before the flight, we got another e-mail confirming that the bid was accepted, and we would be flying in premium class this time, we got far too excited about this πŸ™‚

It turned out, when you arrive at an Air NZ premium check-in desk, looking like a backpacker and messing around packing the straps away on the backpacks, they automatically assume we don’t belong in premium, and a member of staff pulled us out of the queue to go to economy check-in.

It’s safe to say she was probably a little embarrassed when we handed over our passports and she realised that she was to call us ‘Sir’ and ‘Miss’ as is apparently normal for premium customers, but she didn’t even attempt to apologise. After ten minutes of messing about on the computer, she finally sent us back to the premium queue. I wasn’t best pleased and I let her know about it, obviously, because well, you know me πŸ™‚

Anyway, this only spurred us on to making the most of the ‘premium benefits’ (i.e. free unlimited alcohol), and in the quite simply glorious four-hour flight in premium we managed to spend almost all of it with two drinks in front of us. Drinking champagne out of glasses, on a flight, is something we could both get used to, but I think it might have ruined us for economy flights from now on.

Before long, we were in Auckland, we had one night in a hotel (ludicrously over-priced) close to the aiport, which we arrived at from the flight, quite tipsy, before we would be going to stay with friends for the rest of the week. Rich and Fay have been living in New Zealand for a while now and very kindly offered us a bed at theirs for the week, and considering the price of accommodation in Auckland, we gladly accepted, it was great to see familiar faces and hear that Yorkshire accent again.

Auckland is, well, to put it politely, it’s not great. The surrounding areas are beautiful and quickly accessible, so it makes a good base, but, it is as congested as cities of 10 or 20 million people, and it’s only 1.5m in the whole of Auckland. The roads are blocked up for hours every day, and I’m quite convinced that, after being warned by Rich, then witnessing it for myself, that Auckland drivers are the worst on this planet.

One good thing about sparsely populated New Zealand, is that you never have to travel far to get away from the traffic and busyness of Auckland. One day, us and a friend of Rich and Fay’s; Harriet, ventured north a bit to Tawharanui only around one-hour from Auckland.

We got to witness the ‘special’ weather of Auckland, which is, that every fifteen minutes, you can experience all four seasons, with glorious sunshine one minute then torrential rain the next. It’s quite a spectacular sight, and it gives way to the most amount of rainbows we have ever seen.

In a one hour drive, we must have seen at least a dozen rainbows, then just as many again on the way back. The scenery here was stunning, if a little cold, but we had a great day all-in-all.

We did venture down in to the centre of Auckland, but it is nothing much but a business centre really, lots of offices and not nearly as modern or clean as I’d imagined. A strange thing about Auckland is, almost nobody here is actually from Auckland, I guess people from overseas come to Auckland to get work in New Zealand and Aucklanders leave for the countryside away from the city as soon as possible.

Auckland does have special scenery quite close to the centre, because it’s built around many active and inactive volcanoes, climb to the top of one, like Mount Eden pictured below, and as far as the eye can see is lots more volcanic mounds dotted throughout the landscape. To be stood at the top of a volcanic crater in the city centre of Auckland is quite a view, definitely a highlight of Auckland.

Rich works in a craft brewery called Urbanaut, a new brewery in down-town Auckland, and their beers are awesome, especially the Black IPA. One of the benefits of having a friend who works there, is he brings home free beer, which is always a bonus, the mutual agreement of I cook dinner and he brings beer seemed to work well for us all πŸ™‚

We did go down to the brewery, take the guided tour (by Rich) and taste all the other beers as well, the main thing we learned here was; all the beers are excellent!

It was a great week in Auckland, spending time with friends and relaxing after a busy few weeks in Australia, now we were off to the South Island, a flight to Christchurch was to come before meeting up with John and Judy on the following day, from their 30-hour journey from the U.K.

We have three and a half weeks to drive through both islands and back to Auckland, we just know it’s going to be amazing…

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