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2020 - SNZA - Day 20

Well that was another ruined nights sleep. We had barely been in bed for a hour when Karen’s phone rang. It was from a number in France which intrigued us but they rang off before she could answer and left no message.

Then at 2.27am Karen woke me up as there was a static siren going off. She was getting herself in a panic over an imminent tsunami or earthquake. I looked outside but no one else was stirring. Unsure what to do, finally we noticed a notice on the wall in the kitchen area which read to ignore any sirens unless accompanied by a knock on the door. Of course for a while we laid there waiting for any knock which never came.

Eventually the siren stopped and we got back to sleep only for Karen’s phone to ring again, this time a Teaching Agency who we had told we were away, so she didn’t answer and I immediately sent a stroppy email to.

Then 30 minutes later one of Karen’s favoured agencies sent through a text offering her work in Norwich on Feb 13th. Karen accepted the job by returning a text and then we knew the text would ping again with confirmation.

I got up in the morning almost as tired as when I went to bed.

This morning was the last big get up and drive day. Ahead of us we had a 4 ¼ hour drive to Auckland. Our aim was to be on the road for 9am. This meant if I was ready in time that I would be able to listen to the start of the Norwich game at Spurs. In fact I did better than that and managed to get a good stream and watched the first 30 minutes.

After filling up with petrol we hit the road. The first hour was hard work. If they designed a rollercoaster to go round the bends I had to drive then they would have been sent back to the drawing board. It was so bad that Karen actually started to feel a bit queasy through it. Eventually it eased off and we started to put some miles behind us.

One of our topics of conversation started when Karen described New Zealand of being ‘followers’ of the likes of the UK & USA and not leaders. I said I felt that was unfair and in many ways it could be said they were overplaying their hand. For a country of roughly the equal size of the UK but with a total population of less than half that of London alone they don’t do so bad. Karen also said they only had ‘cheaper’ cars but I think that it must be much easier and cheaper to import cars from Japan & Korea as they are so much closer than places like Germany.

Given the size of the country it explains why we feel that we can hardly do justice to all of it in the short time here. I mean you would hardly expect to be able to all of England, Scotland, Wales & Ireland in less than 3 weeks.

I have looked up the cost of living here in comparison to the UK. As I thought it is much more costly, not just the average cost of a shopping basket but also the average cost of a house (which is 13x the average income compared to 8x at home). The papers here has stories of a number of UK couples who having moved here that are now going back as despite the potential better lifestyle, their standard of living is they end up with is much worse than they had in the UK. This explains why the NZ population has not grown significantly over the recent years.

We had been driving for just over 2 hours when we both needed a toilet break. As we hit the outskirts of Whangarei we stopped at a McDonalds to use their facilities and get Karen a drink.

As we sat there we could have been anywhere as the inside of a McDonalds look the same the world over. We pushed on. The average speed picked up as the roads smoothed and widened. As we approached Auckland we took the faster toll road and made a note on Karen’s phone to pay the toll later online.

Karen decided to amuse herself by doing a workout in the car, doing the movements as if she was on a cross trainer. It was very funny. We crossed the Harbour Bridge and took the turning to the centre of the City.

The Hotel we had booked was the one we had used before in Auckland. Previously though the time at the Hotel had been overshadowed by the fact that we spent most of the time trying to track down our missing suitcases. This time we arrived in a much happier frame of mind, although apparently we should pre booked a car park space which caused a minor scare when we checked in but they literally squeezed us in.

The room was in fact a bijoux apartment with the emphasis on the bijoux. The bathroom had a washing machine and dryer squeezed into it which pleased Karen enormously. Last time we had not had to cope in the room with 2 suitcases and we found it difficult to move around. I was allocated a corner to sit in and only allowed to move with permission.

After making a cup of tea we decided to go out to explore the Waterfront. We walked along the main shopping street but wrongly turned right instead of left and so ended up in the dock area rather than the waterfront nice area.

The reason being is that there is construction work going on everywhere. Auckland centre is a mess, a real mess. Many streets you cannot either walk along or cross. They are building an underground railway system which necessitates major construction work everywhere. This doesn’t make Auckland a pleasant place to walk around and will probably be the same for a few years to come.

Eventually we got ourselves to the Waterfront. It was nice enough but didn’t bowl me over. But whilst I like New Zealand cities, I much prefer the natural places like the coastline far better.

Karen was feeling the heat and wanting a cold drink so we went to an Irish bar on the waterfront. Karen had a small Guinness whilst I had another NZ Savvy B. It helped me get over the drive and I finally started to relax for the first time today.

We then made our way back via a small Countdown supermarket near the Hotel to get some more porridge and fruit for breakfast.

Back in the room Karen put on a load of washing and left it going as we went out again to get some dinner. We headed to Elliot Stables which we had discovered and and enjoyed here last time. It is a series of small restaurants surrounding manytables in like an old stable block. The good thing is that like a mall food court, you can each choose a different type of cuisine but eat and enjoy it altogether. Karen spotted one place had wine on offer at happy hour prices so got that whilst I secured a table.

The place was buzzing with locals, backpackers or older holiday makers like ourselves. After going round each restaurant we both choose Pasta from the Italian place. It was delicious as was the garlic bread we ordered with it.

We took a different route back which enabled us to get Karen a decaffeinated Flat White from The Coffee Club shop where we had a brief stop. Back in the room Karen sorted out the washing she put on whilst watching ‘Flirty Dancing’ which we had never seen before back in the UK.

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