The day started with a cup of surprisingly nice coffee from the plunger/cafetiere/french press in our room. We wandered to a nearby bakery, Ronnie’s, for breakfast. Though it wasn’t just a bakery, also had a good breakfast menu with a big breakfast that lived up to its name, and Eggs Benedict served with lashings of hollandaise, at last – can pretty much every other breakfast place in the world please take note. Somehow we managed to avoid all the cakes and doughnuts and delicious tarts on offer and moved on.
Back to hop-on hop-off bus, to get our discounted 2nd day ticket, to visit Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium. We managed to time the list perfectly, arriving at the same time as a hoard of screaming toddlers. This necessitated a pretty brisk walk through the first few sections, just to keep ahead of the noise. The penguin enclosure was fantastic – plenty of penguins packed with personality – the lazy ones, the cranky ones, and the ones who seemed to love nothing more than coming up to the windows and posing for the camera. Watching the mini penguin stampede when the humans arrived with food was also a real treat.
The trip through the shark tank was good, through the obligatory glass tunnel – but this was cleverly fitted with a sushi-train-like moving floor to make sure everybody got to see an equal amount without hanging around too long. Saw a good number of sharks, a few rays, and some fish (yes, very specific, I’m such a marine biologist / zoologist / whatever)
Some of the rays in another tank were enormous – a good metre and a half across at a guess, one of them got up to say hi, as they are pretty curious animals. Then it was on to a tank or two full of Nemos (yes, I know, clown fish), seahorses (I actually learnt something – seahorses can be bigger than I thought), jellyfish and anemones. The place is well worth a visit if ever you happen to be nearby.
There was a beautiful view to be had from across the road, too – looking across the bay back on Auckland city. Very nice. As for the other sight we saw – I don’t know if this is a New Zealand thing or just crazy young people doing crazy young person things, but before long a noisy bunch of 5 people went by, which in itself isn’t too unusual. But the lead guy was on a bike, and hanging on for dear life was a train of four guys on roller blades, all egging the lead guy on to pedal fast. No idea why they were doing it but they seemed to be having fun, so, why not!
Before long the bus was back and we continued on the ‘red loop’ until we reached the museum, where we changed for the ‘blue loop’ that took us past a number of other interesting sights -the Wintergardens, Mt Eden, to name a few. It was nice and warm in the bus and after a less than great night’s sleep (dunno why), I was pretty damn close to a bit of an impromptu nap at times.
We got back to central Auckland and had lunch at Denny’s, which was a surprise to see in this city. I guess for Denny’s the years have not been kind – it’s 90s decor was starting to look pretty tired, and at lunchtime we were two of I think four customers in total. Food was nice though – sizzling chicken fajitas, and a ‘millennium burger’ – maybe the newest thing on the menu 🙂 Anyway, was a good feed, so mustn’t grumble.
Right nearby was the Auckland SkyTower. As the commentary in the bus kept reminding us, it is “taller than CentrePoint tower in Sydney”. Not that anyone has called it CentrePoint for the last twenty years or so, but never mind. Unlike Centrepoint/Sydney tower, much of SkyTower’s viewing area is located maybe two thirds up, rather than close to the top. (About 50m lower than Sydney Towers viewing platforms, according to Wikipedia.)
It was a perfect day for a visit though – clear and sunny, we were able to see for miles (and thanks to a discount voucher from our Aquarium entry, we could afford the tacky tourist photos as well :). We also managed to see the silly people who pay extra to hurl themselves off the edge on a rope and ‘fly’ to the ground. Anyway, the view itself was wonderful – able to see in miles for all directions – the water, the water, the boats, some more water, smaller islands, it really is a pretty place.
We took a wander down Queen Street, the main shopping drag, and we both said “this could be Melbourne”, except for the lack of trams. I am sure any locals would absolutely hate me to even mention it, but it felt like a shopping street in any large Australian city. The shops, the banks, everything was basically the same, except the shops that sell crappy Australian souvenirs at home were selling the New Zealand equivalent. Still, at least it was all familiar and we wiled away a bit of time checking out the shops. The only big department store I saw was Farmers, I think that was about the only shop we saw that wasn’t already existing in Australia (ok Farmers used to be in Australia ages ago, not sure if it’s related though).
One other thing we did stumble upon, which made the whole walk worthwhile, was a small sign advertising ‘Baristacats’ – yep, Auckland’s own Cat Cafe. So you’d never guess where we’re heading after breakfast tomorrow.
We had a lazy late-arvo/early-evening back at the hotel, and headed out to the nearby marina to see what restaurants were around. Looks like they all cater to the “I have a yacht” crowd – so not being keen on spending $48 for a chicken.. we found a ‘Burger Boy’ nearby and had, sure enough, burgers. All good!
That’s the end of another day – ready for more adventures tomorrow.