Tuesday, 24th March 1987
I woke early and travelled to Kings Cross to put my bag into the Backpacker’s store. Then I jumped on the Airport Bus to Kingsford Smith Airport. The terminal was very cramped and it wasn’t a very comfortable 3 hour wait until the flight was called at 1pm.
I boarded flight TE006, an Air New Zealand 747 named “Tokomaru”, and I took my seat, 28A. I learned from the in-flight magazine that the name of the plane meant “Stone” in Maori and that the Maori name for New Zealand itself was Aoterroa, or the land of the long white cloud. Reading all this Maori made me realise that I was off to visit a new country not an extension of Australia but a totally new place.
The plane took off and we were served with an excellent meal of pate, apple salad, roast lamb and raspberries. The meal was accompanied by some deliciously crisp New Zealand wine. The service was more impressive and even better than I had experienced on Qantas.
We landed in Auckland and, after collecting my bag, I started to phone every hostel in the city that I had the details for. The phone was fascinating and had the old A and B buttons you saw in old British films of the 1950’s.
There were no vacancies in any of the hostels.
Feeling apprehensive, I boarded the rather old and antiquated Airport bus to Crown Street and hoped to have better luck going door to door.
My first impression of Auckland was that it had received a lot more English influence than Australia. The houses certainly looked a lot more like the ones back home. There were more brick buildings, red telephone boxes and a lot more older English cars on the road. They even had Boot’s Chemist as well. The road signs were different from Australia too.
We rattled into town and finally made it to Crown Street. Crown Street was supposed to be the budget hostel centre of Auckland but it was totally dead. On the advice of a taxi driver I decided to give up and check into a hotel.
The driver had recommended the Railton so I walked over there. They had rooms but it was 46 dollars a night. That was a lot more than I wanted to pay but I wasn’t really in a position to choose. I checked in and was almost immediately glad I had. I was in the nicest room since leaving Pittsburgh.
I was starting to feel a bit groggy and had a bit of chest pain so I was glad of the nice room. I watched TV in bed. This was a real luxury even though Kiwi TV wasn’t overly interesting. They only had two channels and it seemed to be mostly rubbish. I watched some amateur adverts and a documentary about Nicuragua.
I took some cough medicine and hoped for the best.
Wednesday, 25th March 1987
I had a wonderful breakfast at the Railton and checked out. I wandered down to the youth hostel and managed to secure a bed for the night. I left my backpack with them and set off to explore Auckland. It started to rain and (it was Autumn) it felt a lot colder than Australia.
I headed to a cafe for a coffee and then out on a bus to the War Memorial Museum. It was an interesting museum full of the history of the country. There was an interesting recreation of a Maori house and a 100 year old New Zealand street.
My chest was not getting any better so I returned via the quaint Parnell village to the centre of town and found a chemist. They were not happy and sent me across the road to a doctor. There I was examined by the very nice Doctor Knill and he told me I had a chest inflammation. I was finally sent back to the chemist with a prescription for anti-biotics.
I walked a bit more but the rain got worse and so I headed back to the hostel for an early night. I had a light meal of biscuits and milk and slept most of the night. I woke up once with a raging chest pain and came back downstairs in quite a bit of pain.
Thursday, 26th March 1987
The medicine seemed to be working a bit but I decided to renew the night in the youth hostel. I continued exploring the city and found a nice café for a cottage pie for breakfast. I felt a little like an old age pensioner crawling around and I even spent an hour watching and feeding the pigeons in a park.
I found another café and had soup and ham sandwiches for lunch.
In the afternoon I visited the MOTAT – Museum of Transport and walked around their collection of rusty traction engines, trams and surprisingly very early aircraft. In fact, I learnt that New Zealand can almost claim to have invented the plane.
There was a re-creation of a 19th century classroom in the museum and I sat by myself at the desk looking at the two exercises on the board.
1) Draw a map of New Zealand and include the ports.
2) Divide 62 pounds, 17 shillings and 9 pence by 9.
Both of those were too hard for me. I left and went back to the hostel.