Woke up late in the morning at the Heritage Tower in Auckland. We showered and dressed and headed downstairs to check out. The hotel was kind enough to hold our luggage for us so we could go find food. New Zealand doesn't exactly shut down Sundays, but business gets a lot slower. One of the bellhops suggested a place on Queen street, so we headed there. Never found it. In fact, it appeared that not much was open in the way of restaurants, but eventually we just stopped at a little sandwich shop just off Queen Street on Customs Street. Nothing extravagant, but it certainly tasted good after not eating anything but airline and airport food for a while. Afterward, we wandered up and down Queen Street for a bit, but nothing interesting was open. Actually, there wasn't a hell of a lot interesting on Queen Street in my view anyway.
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped off at an Internet place to get caught up on all the goings-on in Seattle. Internet is cheap in Auckland (around $NZ 2/hour), and turned out to be decently priced in the rest of the country as well. I also sent off a note to hotels.com complaining about my lack of reservation at the Spencer on Byron.
Back at the hotel, the concierge called a cab and we headed back to the Spencer on Byron to check in. From the hotel balcony (we were on the 13th floor if I remember correctly), we had a great view of downtown Auckland. I looked down. Across the street was a large expanse of green, and people were rolling things across the grass. The bellhop informed me that this was lawn bowling, which is played quite a bit in New Zealand.
Old people he said. Lawn bowling clubs dot the landscape like ballfields dot ours.
Afterward, we grabbed our car and headed to the Auckland Zoo. The operative word for the afternoon was
cute. As in
That monkey is so cute! Can I take it home?. The zoo had most of the typical animals, but also housed a few native New Zealand animals that we wanted to see, but would have little chance in the wild. For instance, the kiwi, kea, and wallaby. Didn't know they had them in New Zealand, but apparently wallabies once were native to New Zealand territory as well.
On the drive to the Zoo, I missed the turn-off to the Western Motorway and Western Springs (the suburb containing the zoo). Auckland isn't easy to drive in. Roads don't go straight for long, and the confluence of the 3 motorways isn't very well signed. Rather than turn around, get back on the motorway and try to find the exit from the other direction, I pulled out the map and took an arterial across several suburbs to get to Western Springs. Afterward, rather than get on the motorway, again we took a side street until we got to the Auckland Harbor Bridge. This also brings up my first encounter with an odd rule of driving in New Zealand that doesn't exist anywhere else. I was to turn right onto a side street (same as turning left across traffic here). A bus going the other way had his blinker on to turn left onto the same street. He stopped. He didn't go, so I did, even though he had the easy left hand turn and I had to cross traffic going the other way. As it turns out, I did the right thing. In New Zealand, when turning left, you must give way to all vehicles turning right. The equivalent thing here would be driving on Broadway southbound when you get to Pine. Several cars are stopped in the northbound turn lane to go west on Pine. You also want to turn onto Pine to go west (but in your case, you are turning right). You would have to wait for everyone in the turn lane to get onto Pine first. Which is just weird.
Upon returning to the hotel, we crashed out for a bit, and I scheduled a sailboat cruise for the next day (Monday). We decided to walk around Takapuna to see what we could get for dinner. Just down the street we decided on Sago. I had a delicious lamb meal, and Erin had a chicken stuffed with mango and brie dish. I didn't try it, but it sounded good. (Hey Erin, I noticed last night that the Broadway Grill has a chicken and brie entreé, but no mango.)For beverages, I asked if they had lemonade, which they did. Only when it came to me I found out that lemonade means something different in New Zealand. Lemonade equals lemon-lime soda, aka Sprite, in New Zealand. Make sure you are aware of this before you go there.</p>
After dinner, we were going to go out. Decided to take a nap first though, and Erin explored the hotel. When she got back to the room, she also crashed. And didn't get up. I figured she needed the sleep, and got a good bit of reading done on Rat City before finally crashing for good myself.
Hotel room also quite snazzy, though not quite as nice as the Heritage. No washer-dryer. They also had a french press too. No bathtub, but a good shower. Very comfortable, but the selling point is the view. Valet parking is free. Too much trouble to use it after the first late night arrival. Much less time just to park yourself and to go straight to the car rather than wait for the valet.