Monday, 6 September

Up early, had lovely self-assembled breakfast. Much to Jess's horror, Jer likes Marmite. Showered quickly. Through clever use of the shower control, Jer only ran the shower for 2 minutes. Jess took 2.5, on account of shampooing. Managed to miss the bus to the wharf, ended up catching the 11:00 ferry.

Arrived in Auckland, found the hotel (Aspen House) with little fuss. Central Auckland is, in fact, tiny and twisty and hilly. Also, everything is new. Jess burbled out that it was among the fastest-growing cities in the southern hemisphere. The hotel looks cool, very modern and “designed”.

Lunch at Jacques, attached to Kelly Tarlton's. We were seated by the windows, with a lovely view looking out over the harbor. Tap water had a cucumber chunk in it — not bad. Seafood chowder, which both Jess and Jer had, was very good. Jer had smoked salmon, which turned out to have been cooked (hot smoked), but it came with an excellent chutney. Jess had sea crab, which was somewhat impenetrable. Jer hoped they boil down the remains for stock.

Kelly Tarlton's itself was surprisingly small (smaller than usual, as they're doing some renovations), but literally spectacular. The Antarctic Encounter had a loving reconstruction of Captain Robert Scott's hut, followed by a wonderful ride through the penguin house in a ride made to look like a Snow Cat. Brilliant simulation of a whiteout at the beginning. Jer high affected, Jess somewhat less so, on account of her unusual visual perception system. We went twice. The Underwater World consisted of a few poorly-labeled stand-alone tanks (which had very good fish), and the excellent centerpiece. The main part of the Underwater World is a moving walkway which proceeds slowly beneath a continuous underwater tunnel. The tunnel is made of 2 inch thick curved plexiglass, providing a 180 degree overhead view. We watched a diver feed the fish (and a very insistent turtle). Jess flirted with a staff member and we learned much about the sea life.

We caught the bus back to the city center, then headed down Queen St. (one of the main shopping areas) in hopes of buying Jess a sweater. Unfortunately, shops were largely touristy or designer. After deciding not to pay the US$30 each to go up the Sky Tower, we ran across a hiking store (Doyles Outdoors) and got Jess a fleece. Jess wishes to point out that it is soft and wonderful, but Jer protests that these are encompassed in the term “fleece”.

For dinner, we left the confines of central Auckland and ventured into Ponsonby, one of the suburbs/neighborhoods, for pizza at One Red Dog. Jess had the “Primadonna” (how appropriate!), with mozzarella, tomato, marinated mushrooms and garlic. Jer sampled the “Prawn-o-graphic,” topped with mozzarella, shrimp, brie, carmelized red onions, cashews and pesto.

Went to bed 9:30. Bed is very soft and warm.