Sunday, 17 May 2009

Christchurch - Auckland

Because I'd booked my ticket through Japan Airlines, I had the choice of either flying to Auckland on an international flight (actually the final leg of the Air New Zealand/JAL flight that takes passengers from Tokyo to Auckland via Christchurch) and staying a night there before continuing on to Osaka, or paying extra and doing the entire journey in one day by flying up to Auckland on a domestic flight early the same morning as the flight to Osaka. I chose the former. This had its advantages and disadvantages. On the minus side it made the journey to Japan seem a lot longer. On the plus side, during the flight to Auckland I got to play with the newish entertainment system on the Air New Zealand 767, which has a nice wide screen and seems to have a clearer picture than the system on the 747s and 777s.

The flight to Auckland only took an hour and 20 minutes, so I steered clear of the movies (which I'd have plenty of time to see the next day during the flight to Osaka) and watched some music videos instead. I chose the Classic collection of clips, which were mostly from the 1980s. Some of the songs were pretty dire, others were OK if a little dated (e.g. Lionel Richie's "Dancing on the Ceiling"), while a couple actually lived up to the title "classic", including the Thompson Twins' "Hold Me Now". But seriously, will the absurd fashion of the eighties (big hair, shoulder pads, high-wasted baggy trousers - and that's just the men) ever make a come back?

After touching down in Auckland just after 11am, I caught the Airbus Express into the city. The bus seemed to take a rather circuitous route to the CBD, taking me through leafy parts of Auckland I hadn't seen before. I was dropped off on Queen Street and soon found my hotel, which was literally a stone's throw from Skycity. This was handy, as I was due to have dinner at the revolving restaurant at the top of the Sky Tower that evening. As a bonus, my room had a view of the harbour.

I dumped my bag and went out for a wander. Being a Sunday, things were pretty quiet. One thing I did notice was the large number of beggars and buskers on the street compared to Christchurch. I had lunch (pumpkin soup and toast) at a café on Vulcan Lane and continued walking around for an hour or so, mainly checking out bookshops and CD shops. As I was coming out of JB HiFi, a young guy at the door asked if I minded if he looked inside my bag. "Yes, I do mind actually," I said, and continued walking out. A reminder, citizens of this fair land, that not even a policeman has the right to search you without good reason. Those signs in stores declaring that it's a condition of entry that you may have your bag searched on leaving have no legal backing whatsoever.

Having seen everything in the inner city that I wanted to see, I retired to my hotel room and spent the rest of the afternoon watching TV, mostly Sky Movies. I enjoyed Scoop, a Woody Allen comedy starring Scarlett Johansson. I interrupted my TV viewing once to go out and get coffee. I noticed that the coffee shop just along from the hotel was open 24 hours. I decided that's where I'd get breakfast the following morning, as I had to check out by 5.45am - well before the hotel restaurant opened - to enable me to get a bus back to the airport to catch my flight to Japan.

I'd booked a table at Orbit, the revolving restaurant, for six, so at about ten minutes to I strolled down to Skycity and took the elevator up to the restaurant 190 metres above the ground. A waiter showed me to a window table with a great view of the city below, which had already descended into darkness. I was about to put my bag on the floor beside my table when I noticed that this was near where a revolving section of the floor and a non-revolving section met. I decided to hang my bag on my chair instead. I wonder how many people have made the mistake of putting their bags on the floor only to look down later and find them missing.

The restaurant takes about an hour to make a full rotation, so I got to see the entire city by the time I finished my meal (which included the colourful snapper dish in the photo above). I was back in my hotel room in time to catch The Amazing Race (the episode in question was filmed in Siem Reap, so I was keen to see it). I then switched back to Sky Movies to watch Vantage Point, eventually calling it a night at around 10pm.

Although my day in Auckland wasn't a complete waste of time, it was probably a mistake to stay there overnight instead of paying extra and getting a domestic flight up to Auckland the next morning. I was eager to get to Japan and start walking. At the same time I was quite apprehensive about the weeks ahead. I hadn't really trained enough, and I had some real injury worries. My left big toe was quite sore from time to time during dinner, indicating the onset of another ingrown toenail, and my groin had also been playing up for a couple of days.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good to see you back on air. Mark