Saturday, December 26, 2015

Auckland Duck

No, it’s not some New Zealand recipe involving Anas platyrhynchos, akin to Peking duck or Bombay duck…I’ve finally broken my Auckland duck, and after over five years in New Zealand, deigned to visit the city rather than just use its airport.

Incidentally, why aren’t those two recipes called Beijing duck and Mumbai duck now? Just a thought.

We were up at the crack of sparrow to board the 6:30am flight to Auckland. The flight was uneventful and we caught the bus in to the city, dropped off our bags at the hotel, and set off to find some breakfast. Nicola armed herself with some leaflets from the hotel lobby, and we planned our assault upon the city.

First up was…up. We went up the Skycity tower. This is practically obligatory on a first visit to Auckland. From the viewing deck on the 51st floor, we were able to look out around the whole of the city. We’d picked a nice clear day for it, so we could see as far as the Coromandel peninsula in the distance. We could also look through the floor in places, as it’s made of glass. This is quite unnerving at first but you quickly get used to it. You can also do this in the lift when ascending and descending, but all you can see through that is a lift shaft, which is quite uninteresting (unless you're John McClane).

We popped up a further 9 floors to the higher observation deck,from which you can see much the same views, but without the explanatory notes on the  railings. After a quick coffee in the café on level 50, we came back down to earth and exited through the gift shop, ignoring the blandishments of the photograph seller who wanted $35 for pictures of us against a green-screened-in night view.

Next up, we boarded the hop-on hop-off tour bus, and went to Kelly Tarlton’s, Auckland’s famous aquarium centre. This has penguins! Loads of them, in a specially cooled Antarctic environment. There’s also a shark and ray tank which you can walk through, as well as more conventional aquatic displays. At the beginning is  a recreation of Captain Scott’s accommodation and base camp from his ill-fated expedition to the South Pole.

The catering wasn't up to the expected standard
We hopped back on the bus and headed off to the Auckland Museum. We took advantage of the café facilities on the ground floor for a spot of lunch, then decided that the blurb in the guide ("tells the story of New Zealand’s history…through the loss and suffering of war…natural history…Maori and Pacific treasures”) pretty much summed up Te Papa in Wellington; and as we’d been there last week and seen The Scale Of Our War exhibition, we were pretty warred out, so decided to give it a miss, and instead headed down to the Winter Gardens, which are two greenhouses in the Victorian style, housing all manner of exotic plants.  

Then back on the bus. This is the “blue circle” of the route, and we decided to stay on the bus for this section of the tour, and listened to the commentary, as this part of the route only ran once an hour, so getting off the bus would necessitate spending an hour at the location. We felt that the attractions either required more (Parnell), or less (Eden Park) than an hour, and anyway were feeling pretty slothful by this stage. We changed back onto the double-decker bus for the final leg back to Ferry building, and checked back into the hotel and reached our room.

That’s day one so far…tonight we go out to Euro, Simon Gault’s flagship Auckland restaurant. We’re familiar with his work in Wellington (Pravda, Shed 5, Crab Shack) so should be good.

No comments:

Post a Comment