Friday, 20 February 2009

Preparations in Auckland

Our hostel in Auckland was a curious place to stay. Located on an industrial estate, it was walking distance from the city centre, via K-Road. This street is famous for quirky shops, caf├ęs and also the local red light district – we always seem to find it in every city we go to! The hostel itself was a mixture of backpackers and longer-stay residents. One man we met there turned out to be a devout born-again Christian (with a whiff of alcohol on his breath).

Recovering from jet-lag, we managed a Sunday stroll around the city centre. It was very quiet, even for a Sunday. People were probably away for the weekend enjoying the weather. In addition to the Skytower, we found this iGod poster outside one church.

Our spare time was taken up by making plans for our road trip around New Zealand. For us, renting a car and buying camping equipment turned out to be much cheaper than hiring a camper van. On the recommendations of Tony, the very helpful hostel manager, we spent Monday scouring the very cheap 'Warehouse' for pots, pans, plates and cooking utensils. We picked up a tent for under 200 NZD (around 80 GBP) at the camping store 'Kathmandu'. We hoped we wouldn't regret it!

Picking up the hire car on Tuesday morning, we found ourselves driving along Queen Street in Auckland. Although this is the main road through the city centre, traffic was surprising light. After loading up the car at the hostel, we began the journey south to the Tongariro National Park.