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We were supposed to have a hire car as soon as we arrived in Auckland but because we arrived a couple of days early, we decided to have some time on foot. The hostel we had hastily chosen in Papeete airport turned out to be a good one. It was perhaps a little cold in our room but the rest of the place was warm and very friendly. Scott, one of the two people running the hostel, was a veritable goldmine of information and conversation and his taste in films is quite good too. (He had UHF in his collection.) The hostel is in an area of Auckland called Parnell and this seems like quite a nice area. It's walkable to the city centre although there are easy to take buses available too. Also within walking distance we had a shopping street, a reasonable supermarket and a couple of cinemas. Since the hostel had a kitchen, we started stocking up on food for our month in New Zealand. Boxes of cereal, the odd bag of fruit, that sort of thing. We also cooked for ourselves too. As fun as finding interesting restaurants can be, we did lots and lots of that in Mexico, Belize, Peru and to some extent Chile. It's nice to cook for yourself. So we are.
The other, immediately noticeable thing about New Zealand is that everyone speaks English (or a version of it - apparently "daks" are underwear) so asking for things is so much easier. Our first day was primarily a day of asking for things. We walked into the city centre with a mini list of things to do and accomplished quite a few of them. Dropping photos off for developing, getting glasses mended, fixing Claire's camera, and buying stuff. We found some things we had been looking for in Chile but hadn't managed to find. A lead lined bag for Claire's films in the first place we tried after trying practically every camera shop in Chile ("lead lined bag" doesn't translate into Spanish by the way, not in any way that people understand at least). We also easily found some sacks for our rucksacks. (They drop over the top and tie up thus hiding all of our straps from nasty conveyor belts and making our bags more baggage handler friendly.) That was pretty much all that we accomplished that day.
The following day we posted 10kg of stuff back to England. Souvenirs, packs of photos (17) and a few other random bits mostly. We also got to see Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. As fun as it was, it felt very much like something was missing but I can't quite put my finger on what it was. I have to say though that stylistically speaking, it's the best of the three films so far. And since we were having a slovenly day, we went back to see Elephant. A very nicely shot film following some school kids on the day "Columbine" style shootings happen in their school. Unfortunately, the film tries so hard to make a point of not making any points at all that you feel like you've been robbed when it's over.
It transpired that there was a problem with the hire car we were due to have and take to Auckland so we ended up having an extra day. That did also mean an extra day of Claire's pedestrian crossing impressions. (The things I have to put up with.) We were at a bit of a loose end for part of the day but eventually we ended up at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Don't let the name fool you. It's only because it's close to a war memorial. The museum is full of dinosaurs and New Zealand stuff. Good fun, but we didn't get to spend too much time there before it closed.
That night I had a photo nightmare. One of my compact flash cards turned out to be corrupted when I tried to burn the photos to CD. I managed to salvage a few photos but some might be lost. I was not a happy bunny.
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