Auckland, New Zealand – August 8, 2016
We landed in Auckland after an uneventful flight from Wellington. We checked into our hotel, the Stamford Plaza, shortly before lunch. The room we had faced Albert Street. Across the street was a shell of a building. No doubt, the owner is hoping that a buyer will come along to redevelop the site.
After lunch, I went to work.
When I returned to the room, we discussed where to go for dinner. We settled on Harbourside. We departed the hotel to walk about two blocks to the Ferry Building, overlooking the ferry docks.
We began at the bar, which is unique. The bar has four sides. One entire side of the bar displays nothing but tequila, including several sugar skull bottles of tequila. The bar on the side we chose had several types of alcohol, including rum. Suddenly, much to my surprise, I spied an old friend. There, on the shelf, was a bottle of El Dorado Rum. Our introduction to El Dorado happened while we lived in Georgetown, Guyana. Our drink of choice that night was wine, but I made a mental note for an after-dinner drink.
While sitting at the bar, we enjoyed a starter of Smoked Snapper Pâté. It was smooth, creamy, smoked snapper pâté, with lemon juice, smoked paprika, and served with crispy spelt bread. It was delicious.
From the bar, we moved to our table. Leslie opted for the Roasted Merino Lamb Rump. It came with potato boulangère, honey spiced beetroot fondant, baby beets, burnt onion purée, hazelnut, panko crumbed sweetbreads, and herb yogurt. I chose the Ora King Salmon Fillet, served with smoked leek vichyssoise, charred baby leek, oyster mushroom, samphire, apple, cucumber, diamond clams, and crayfish essence. I cannot put into words just how good it tasted.
The following night we decided to try the Lumsden Free House Bar. It is not as flash as Harbourside. Regardless, it has a friendly atmosphere.
One day at work, on the way from one home inspection to another, my colleague and I stopped at Mount Eden. It is a nearly 650-foot tall dormant volcano. It provides a stunning view of Auckland. At 160 feet deep, the bowl-like crater is impressive.
Saturday morning, Leslie and I took time to visit the Kelly Tarlton Aquarium. Uniquely, the entire aquarium is underground. A moving walkway transports one through several aquariums. The sidewalk is very similar to the one at the National Aquarium in Napier; however, it is four or five times longer. By far, our favorite exhibit contained a lone, fist-sized octopus. The octopus sat still and quiet in the display until we approached.
Suddenly, the octopus put on a show just for us. It was very entertaining to watch the octopus move around. Leslie decided she would like one as a pet. I moved her along so we would not get in trouble.
We took a taxi back to the hotel, grabbed our luggage, and headed to the airport.