Auckland, New Zealand – January 20, 2016
Because of its small size, that airport has to be one of the easiest on the planet to navigate.
We boarded our morning, one-hour flight, and took off without incident.
After landing in Auckland and claiming our baggage, we hailed a taxi. On our way to the Stamford Hotel, I found myself thinking how odd it is that there is not a motorway from the airport to the Central Business District. The journey from the airport to the CBD is mainly on surface streets. That can be particularly annoying during the morning or evening rush. A fix is in the works. The government is nearing completion on a tunnel which will make it possible to get from the airport to the CBD on a motorway.
We woke up early today to start our trip to Auckland. First, we had to make our way to Wellington International Airport. Once at the hotel, I checked our baggage since it was too early to secure a room. Leslie remained at the hotel while I walked to the Consulate to go to work.
After work, we decided to walk around town a bit. We both got a feeling of being in a smaller version of New York City. The buildings are not as tall, and there are a few million fewer people, but it has that NYC feeling.
We decided to walk to the waterfront to see if we could find a nice restaurant overlooking the harbor. Along the way, we saw a “beer cycle.” I had heard of them before, but I had never actually seen one. It was a four-wheeled vehicle with six barstools on either side of the mobile-bar. At the base of each barstool is a set of bicycle peddles. In this particular instance, there were nine women on the vehicle drinking beer and peddling. At the front was a man steering, presumably not drink driving. He frequently encouraged the women to peddle harder to keep the contraption moving. It looked like fun, but then I think looks can often be deceiving.
It was close to 17:30 when we arrived at the harbor. We sat near the Ferry Building and watched the commuters cue for the endless ferries from the CBD to points across the water. There was a never-ending stream of boats of all sizes coming and going.
The Crab Shack (note: not Joe’s Crab Shack) won our business for dinner. That was due in part to having an outside seating area overlooking the harbor. One of the things we have noticed in New Zealand is that there seems to be no end to the uniquely named beers and wines. That evening was no different. To accompany our meal, we opted for The King’s Bastard, a 2014 New Zealand Chardonnay.
Our server for the evening was the flamboyant Nick. He was very outgoing. He saw me taking some photographs and asked if we wanted him to take a picture of us. We agreed. When he finished, I told him turn-about-is-fair-play and asked to take his photo. He agreed too.
We began with Spanner crab cakes with chili and pickled lime hollandaise. For her main, Leslie had blue swimmer (crab) in a chili and garlic butter sauce with coriander, spring onion, and crispy shallots. I opted for the catch of the day (tarakihi). It was blackened market fish with spring greens, clams, and smoked tomato broth.
The meal was particularly marginal. The only reason we enjoyed it somewhat was due to Nick and his attitude.
Our walk the next evening took us the opposite direction from the harbor. As we walked, Leslie noticed a terrace on the second floor of a bar. It was the Shakespeare Hotel & Brewery. We walked up and sat on the terrace. It was a beautiful evening to relax with a glass of wine and watch Auckland go by.
Back at the Stamford Plaza, we decided to dine at the Kabuki Teppanyaki restaurant. It is a Japanese display-cooking restaurant. It was fabulous.
At dinner, we decided we would take a ferry to Waiheke Island the next day. Little did we know how much fun was in store with that trip.