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Auckland, New Zealand

Apparently New Zealand is cold, very cold, particularly when you disembark a plane inapproriately dressed in flip flops. Rumours of a lack of central heating were quickly confirmed as we checked into a freezing dorm room in the heart of Auckland. Plans to buy new clothes were thwarted when jet lagged and exhausted from an over night journey, a short nap turned into an eight hour sleep-a-thon and day turned into night. To warm our cockles we sampled our first taste of southern hemisphere box wine known as 'goon'. We found a particularly pleasing brand in the form of Country (the cheapest)- no fridge was required in our dorm room. Being in an English speaking country vastly improved our friendship making fortunes in the Globe club that night. So much so in fact that we awoke the next day to a phonecall from Kiwi David reminding us that he was picking us up at 8.00 for Katherine's 21st birthday party. As a result we had to arrange our second date with Tako from Tonga for midnight at Lenin Bar at the Viaduct, after the party had finished. One hitch in making these plans however, was the need for proper shoes to gain entry into Lenin Bar. Unfortunately trek shoes and flip flops would not suffice. Still not quite over our jetlag, we missed shopping hours (9-5.30) and as a result all had to buy matching $5 sparkly shoes. We warned our new friends of this fashion faux pas in advance to avoid needless embarassment. The 21st party turned out to be a fairly intimate family affair, luckily the free bar soon eased our discomfort. Things began to get surreal when the speeches started, to say our presence there was random is an understatement. We had never met Katherine before in our lives yet forever she will have a photo of four English girls, in matching gold pumps, sipping wine (at her Father's expense) in her special 21st birthday photo album. Midnight came, date two began and we spent the rest of the evening at the Viaduct, the trendy harbourside drinking area.
The rest of our time in Auckland was primarily spent shopping for warm clothes and walking up Mount Eden for views of the city. A lovely few hours were spent over coffee with some local relatives of Erin's, the Potts family, who were quizzed, notepads at the ready, for all their New Zealand advice. Last job in Auckland was to pick up our hire car, Stanley, who was to transport us around the country for the next six weeks.
Clear blue skies and sunshine beat down on us as we made our way north to the Bay of Islands. We stayed in Paihia which despite being the busiest town in the area, was still tranquil and quiet and in an incredibly beautiful setting. Plans to further explore were temporarily halted when Stanley incurred a flat tyre during our second day with him. Luckily for us a heroic man in a ute came to our rescue and a quick change over to the spare took place. Back on the road we visited Ninety Mile Beach (well the 1st mile anyway). Colly spent a lovely morning revisiting an early memory from her days of living in New Zealand at Waitangi Treaty Ground where in 1840 the English and the Maoris formally agreed to live as one people.
One thing we quickly noticed about New Zealand was that it is near impossible to turn a corner without being dumbstruck by yet another incredible view, bays and lakes sneak out of nowhere. The advantage of having our own car means we have the freedom to stop when and where we like for the beautiful views and or comfort breaks.

We returned to Auckland via the Waipoua Kauri forest where we saw some very big Kauri trees, 'the daddy ' had an impressive girth of 5 metres diameter and was 51 metres high. Back in Auckland it seemed that Stanley's bad karma returned to sting us one more time. Having been informed that we could park in any space until 8am we slipped into a row of cars. Upon innocently returning to collect her golden shoes Murph found that Stanley was nowhere to be seem. After frantically scouring the nearby streets, a kind passer-by eventually informed her that a white car had just been towed. It appeared that we had inadvertently parked in a bus stop (it could happen to anyone).

The car was well and truly in the compound and would remain there all night and so we headed back to the Globe to drown our sorrows. As Erin smugly napped, Murph, Colly and Tay traipsed across the city to track down Stanley. After an hour of fruitless searching, they eventually discovered him next to the prison, what a lovely area. Elaborate plans to flirt our way out of a fine were dashed when we were confronted by a woman brandishing a pre-issued fine. $130 later we drove Stanley back to the hire place and traded him in for an automatic with a much needed tape-deck. Hopes are high that Sir Cliff Richard will be better behaved as he leads us South to Rotorua.

permalink written by  Murph, Tay, Colly and Erin on August 5, 2006 from Auckland, New Zealand
from the travel blog: The Smug Adventures Down Under
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