Because Val had perhaps rather foolishly told Eva that we were keen trampers (Item no 1 in the NZ/English dictionary: trampers means hikers, + has no connotations of tramps as ragged, scruffy men at all) she had rung up her brother, another keen tramper, + arranged for him to take us out tomorrow. Rory + Eva would drop us over there tonight – in the meantime, we would amuse ourselves in town for the day.
We caught the bus in, which seemed excessively expensive, + dropped off 3 rolls of black + white film to be developed. We then picked up a copy of the Tourist Times, + discovered in it a short walking tour round Auckland, so we followed that. It was hardly exciting, but pleasant enough, + we even had some sunshine. The route took us round some of the older streets, but by English standards they were more genteel Hampstead than historic. We also walked thro’ Albert Park, which had a large statue of Queen Victoria. One of the great disasters of New Zealand is that the shops all shut on Saturday afternoons, so that city life withers + dies for virtually the entire weekend.
We were then just in time, so we thought, to catch the free double-decker London bus out to MOTAT, which is the Museum of Transport and Technology. However, it didn’t turn up – or at any rate, there was some confusion in the newspaper as to where it was supposed to turn up, so we didn’t catch it. Instead, we thought to walk out to Parnell, another “historic” district, + then on to the War Memorial museum. Parnell was true Hampstead. It had lots of old buildings, restored to look like an old colonial village, + all now housing frightfully trendy shops. Still, the place did seem to have some life to it, even tho’ it was a Saturday afternoon.
Incidentally, we have discovered that Peter Gabriel has released a new album. I was severely tempted to buy it (+ doubtless would have fallen) but my miserly angel, called Val, was at my side. She’s probably right tho’; we’ve been going thro’ money like water, + really need to get a job of some kind. We discovered how much it costs to fly to Australia today – about $400 each, which doesn’t leave us a lot to play with.
The museum was quite nice. It was free, which is very nice. We arrived just in time to see the next showing in the planetarium, + since neither of us have ever been to one, we trotted along. It was very disappointing tho’ – the guy gave a technical talk, + gave it very fast, so it was difficult to follow, + in any case the whole thing only ran about 20 mins, so no sooner had one got used to the dark than it was over. We just looked at a couple of other exhibits – they had one display devoted to Gallipoli, but in general there was a paucity of material. This needn’t necessarily be a bad thing, since if there is too much that can be overwhelming, but I think this erred on the other side. Tho’ not from choice, I imagine.
After the museum, a walk back to town down thro’ the park, + then on a bus back to St Heliers. Rory + Eva drove us across to the other side of Auckland to where Eva’s brother Herman + his wife Marge live, stayed for a quick beer + a chat, + then departed, leaving us behind. They were a very pleasant, hospitable couple. Herman is tall + slim, + tho’ Marge has a pretty face, she is a very strange shape, being very short yet very broad. Herman got out a big box of maps + guides, + started telling us about 3 or 4 day walks which were particularly good, + we were able to pin him down to the 2 or 3 top ones. Because of his advice, we abandoned our plan for visiting the Coromandel peninsula, which would have meant re-tracing our steps in any case, + decided instead to go to Tangariro N P, in the middle of the North Island, + perhaps a couple down in the south as well. Of course, our plans are always fluid. Things change, y’know. Marge cooked up a lovely meal, + then after dinner we just chatted. About five years ago, they had gone on a similar world trip to the one we’re on, so we had quite a lot to talk about.
Our first real encounter of the sleepy pace of life then the way of things in NZ. Our understanding is that it has changed somewhat since then. Other than that, the usual sort of touristy things – museums, sight-seeing. And more NZ hospitality – we really have been treated most royally.