New Zealand day 8: Auckland

On Friday we had a lunch booking with two of Frazer’s friends at Auckland’s Sky Tower, which is New Zealand’s tallest man-made structure.

However, if you read my last blog you’ll know we were forced to stay the night in Taupo instead of Hamilton so first we picked up our new car from the garage and then drove about three and a half hours to Auckland, stopping off in Hamilton just to freshen up.

img_1735We hadn’t had time to plan the route from super highway 1 to the Sky Tower but managed to wing it by heading towards the rather tall structure… Parking there was pretty reasonably priced (compared to London) as we were eating in the restaurant, and soon we were whizzing up 52 floors in the lift – which had a glass panel in the floor and at points also a clear view through the door.

Orbit restaurant had an amazing view – and soon after sitting down we realised it had a revolving floor! So we did a complete 360-degree turn quite a few times during the meal, which meant it felt like we’d got an unusually complete and pretty phenomenal overview of Auckland.

We were at the end of the lunch sitting at 1.45pm and it was really quiet, which I’d definitely recommend. They had a $55 deal for two courses as well which seemed like good value considering the location and quality.

Frazer was very happy with the roasted pork belly to start and then the Rangitikei corn fed chicken. I had the vegetarian version of the butternut squash risotto (without the crab and octopus) which was nice apart from one particular flavour I couldn’t quite identify – and once I’d taken two tomatoes off the top too.

I had a similar experience with the roasted white chocolate and banana gelato, which was tainted for me by the odd caramel mousse and rhubarb jam. I did however love my non-alcohol cocktail, the kiwi passion, which I finished before the starters even arrived. Overall we were all pretty happy and it was upmarket food for a reasonable price.

After eating we went down to the 51st floor to the main observation level, just to scoop up the views for a final time – and see some bungee jumpers launch themselves off the tower above us.

Next stop was Queen Street, where we browsed the shops along the main strip. We found a really cool record shop in Queens Arcade, stumbled across Auckland’s cat cafe (but didn’t go in, sadly!) and nosed at the designer shops. We also wandered along the harbour which had a really cool vibe with the after work Friday crowd coming out.

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We went back to Sky Tower to check out the SkyCity casino (no gambling here though!) and grab a quick chocolate milkshake at Andy’s Burgers and Bar.

But still stuffed from lunch, we skipped dinner and went instead across Auckland to Stardome Observatory in Cornwall Park. There we saw a show in the planetarium all about what can be seen in the night sky over Auckland in the spring.

Afterwards, although it was pretty cloudy, we were able to go to the Zeiss Telescope and see the moon up close, Saturn’s rings and particular constellations which was an awe-inspiring way to finish the day.

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