Life's a beach

Life's a beach
Life's a beach

Auckland – bustling, noisy and a great place to get tats

Jenny, Fo and Teri on the harbour front
On our return to Auckland we took an apartment right in the centre of the city. The intention had been to do all of those things that had seemed vital during our earlier visit but which we had been prevented from doing by illness. As it transpired, these seemed considerably less appealing on our return. My antipathy towards all things tourist (and to a lesser extent Fo's too) really had taken hold big time. We had seen and done such wonderful things on our journey around NZ that nothing seemed to remain other than rest.  Not that this was always easy in the lively city centre, which seemed to be in party mode 24/7.

View from the jump point atop the Sky Tower

Fo at least had arranged to meet up with Jenny from Hamilton and another school friend, Teri, who happened to live close to the city. She had a great day of school reminiscences while I took my iPod and The High Kings for a long walk along the harbour; a routine I repeated often during our stay, albeit with different music on each occasion.

To jump or not to jump.
She didn't look too happy to be there.
Throughout our stay in Auckland Fo was haunted and teased in equal measure by the spectre of the Sky Tower; at 328 metres it's the tallest man-made structure in NZ. There is an external platform (at 192 metres) that can be walked, tethered of course. There is also an opportunity to jump, also tethered thankfully. It's this that Fo had fixated upon ever since we had arrived in NZ. Everywhere we went in Auckland it was visible, unfortunately. This meant that, no sooner had she plucked up enough courage to go for it, she'd catch sight of it again and go weak at the knees. Despite this, and to her credit, she did finally get to within 10cms of the platform edge before bottling it; about 192 metres closer than I ever got. She looked hot in the jumpsuit too!

Fo's tattoo. Full of Maori symbolism. It's also got a
frog and a dragon if you look carefully.
Another personal dare WAS undertaken, and that was to get a tattoo. As I may have already mentioned, Fo had had a design put together by a Maori artist (Jason) in Whakawerawera (the Maori village in Rotorua) and was keen to give her existing frog tat some company.  After taking advice from the manager of our apartment block (whose father was "fully suited" apparently) we sourced two tattoo shops in city. In the first of these we were greeted by a wall of loud rap music and a tattoo 'artist' who was as high as a kite and who was not keen to follow someone else's design. 

Ray's Tattoos. I don't know what I was thinking really.
We about faced and headed for the other shop. I've got nothing against a guy getting high; I just didn't want him using my skin as a canvas while out of his skull. In fairness the rap music was equally unappealing. At the other shop, Fo was paired up with a lovely Japanese lady who was happy to copy Jason’s design without feeling that her artistic integrity was being compromised. I got paired with a Ron Perlman lookalike who, at first glance, seemed a bit menacing and not in the least bit artistic. However, other than a propensity to swear too much, he was great and created a wonderful whale fluke design for me, which he than spent 3.5 hours etching this into my skin. I can't say the process was fun but I don't regret a moment of it. I also think the finished tat is great too, though opinions are likely to vary. No matter, we're delighted with them and that's all that matters.

Nothing to do with Auckland, just one of Fo's best
memories of the South Island
For most of our last day in the city we simply ambled the waterfront, enjoyed the sunshine and stopped for a cold one whenever the mood took us. We lunched in a wharfside seafood restaurant and were entertained by a blessing ceremony that took place aboard one of the moored yachts. If we had had any rice at the conclusion of the ceremony we'd have thrown it, but we didn't and reasoned that they probably wouldn't have appreciated the remnants of our chips.

Also nothing to do with Auckalnd, just a great picture of
Fo being.........well Fo really.

After a little too much sun, and probably too much wine, we slept soundly. For the last few days in NZ we revisited Bruce and Julie in Albany. As ever they were warm and generous hosts and showed remarkable tolerance of the disruption we had brought into their home and life. You shouldn't have made us quite so welcome guys, you might see us again sooner than you think.

Ray's actual tattoo, with a little Maori symbolism too.

Our flight from Auckland back to Sydney had a melancholic feel to it. We were excited about the next leg of our trip to Adelaide and Melbourne but we were also sad to be leaving New Zealand. It had resonated at just the right frequency for us and in a way that few other places ever have. And I can’t believe that we ever thought that three weeks was long enough for a visit. We are already missing it, as well as friends old and new.

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