The morning started pretty slowly as the first available booking in the Cat Cafe was 10am. So out we wandered, with the supposedly easy task of finding somewhere for breakfast. But on the main drag, Queen Street, there’s basically bugger-all for anyone who chooses to leave home before having their weet-bix of baked beans on toast. We wandered around for a good 20 minutes til we found a place to eat, and fortunately it was a gem. The name escapes me (ok, so it wasn’t memorable), but it did a great job of scrambled eggs on toast, and eggs benedict. It was a cafe by day, bar by night, with very cool rough-hewn wooden furniture, friendly staff, and someone in the kitchen who really knew what they were doing. Winner!
Next on the agenda was visit Baristacats – the cat cafe. The tricky part was finding it! Even though it was on Queen St, entrance was via a side lane, through an unmarked door, that we eventually found – I don’t know who has it in for them, but apparently they’re not allowed to have any more signage than the (very meagre) amount they have currently. Never mind, we did find it – and we found a bunch of the smoothest kitties I’ve ever seen. From the second we walked in there were two of them that wouldn’t leave us alone – rubbing against our legs and head-butting us for attention – maybe it’s because we were the first visitors of the day, but the cats were all curious to find out who these strange new people were, what they were doing, and could they have more pats please, followed by more pats. It’ll be of no great surprise to anyone at all that we were more than happy to oblige, and then some. All the cats were rescue cats – some from shelters, some from a very rough life on the streets, so they had their own share of issues. One was blind, one had three legs, one had an untreated inner-ear problem so always walks with a wobble, but it doesn’t stop any of them from getting on with life. It was an hour very well spent.
Next on today’s adventure was a visit to the Zoo. We tried out luck on Auckland’s public transport and it didn’t disappoint. Much. The odd thing was how difficult it was to find places that sell the ‘AT HOP’ card (like an opal / myki / oyster / clipper / suica / etc). But find one we did, and soon enough thanks to their pretty good transport app, we were in a bus and on our way, for the princely bus fare of only $3.50.
Auckland zoo is a good one – the animals have good sized enclosures, and look well cared for, though the elephants just seemed a bit sad / bored today. But we saw plenty of other critters large and small, and yes, happy too say we even saw the elusive Kiwi – though it was too dark to get any photos of it. One hot tip for any potential travellers to Auckland Zoo – eat first. The food from the cafe was pretty grim. We could’ve sat and watch the monkeys for hours as they played around, fought over pieces of carrot, gave each other hugs, and used their amazing tails just as they would any other limb, to hang around, swing around, and generally mess around. All good fun.
Up next, since it was nearby, and handily accessible thanks to a free tram ride (and an old Melbourne tram, at that) was MOTAT. MOTAT? MOTAT. The Museum of Technology and Transportation. It had fun stuff (a 360 degree projection screen full of 100s of copies of Perry’s face), nerdy stuff (original Commodore 64s, old telephone exchange equipment), old stuff (steam-powered trams, a massive beam-engine used as Auckland first water supply pump), and odd stuff (a massive ‘innovation’ building that was innovating a whole bunch of ‘huh?’ and not much else). The trams were kinda cool – looks like Auckland did the same dumb Sydney did in the 60s and ripped up the whole network.
After MOTAT we successfully navigated the bus system to get us back to the hotel, and had dinner at a very nearby restaurant ‘Monsoon Poon’ – and wow what a restaurant it was. A kind of Indian / South East Asian fusion, the joint was jumping but fortunately they were able to fit us in. Great decor, good service, and delicious food – a massive tasting plate to start, followed by Beef Rendang and Nasi Goreng. We’d also ordered a Lamb Curry but after the size of the tasting plate (huge!) the staff cleverly suggest dropped one dish, which was kind of them, and also a good idea. We’ll have to come back some other time for the 25-spice Lamb Curry.
Tomorrow we’ll be up-and-at-em bright and early (well, it’ll be early, but it won’t be bright) for a trip into The Shire to visit the ‘Hobbiton’ location from Lord of the Rings. Let’s see if we can find any Hobbits…