Sky Tower

We had planned a leisurely walk to the sky tower for our first NZ dinner date. Asking the concierge for the best route thwarted our plan, it was apparently uphill all the way from our hotel, his charades impression of sweating man was enough to put the long-suffering off from walking anywhere ever again!

Grabbing a taxi, we were as cool as cucumbers and arrived at the tower refreshed and ready for the lift up to the main observation on 51st floor. Dining at the sky tower allows for a free viewing experience either 45 mins before or after your meal.

The tower itself stands 328m tall, our first stop would be 220m above sea level with 360 panoramic views out up to 80 kilometres in every direction. First though the lift…an experience in itself, travelling at 18kph it takes approx 40 sec to reach our destination, with a part glass floor looking down the diminishing shaft, and intermittent views out and down over the city it is not for the faint hearted – my long-suffering included who just happens to suffer greatly at altitude! The journey reminded him of the tower of terror ride our daughter forced him on in Orlando.

For my dear long-suffering it was about to get a lot worse, the views out and down from floor 51 were breathtaking, with clear skies we were afforded the complete viewing experience. In only two days great heights have been ever-present in our itinerary – this topping them all – a measure then of his fondness for me? He visibly paled, and repeatedly did the can I look down? No I can’t shuffle? All the while trying to compose the best shot. Me, I was happy to lay flat back against the huge glass windows or stand on the rectangular glass floor panels as his loving muse!

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Another nine floors up takes you to the Sky deck the highest view out, my suggestion of walking around the outside perimeter – yes that is a pre-bookable option, as is jumping off! – fell on deaf ears!

Our dinner date at the Orbit 360 revolving restaurant on the 52nd floor was altogether a more relaxing experience if a little weird at first especially as my grey matter could not work out which part was actually moving round. Luckily the long-suffering was on  his A-game rescuing my handbag from the outer ring before it took a solo tour round All the other diners!

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Our meal from the specials menu – lamb steak, mushrooms, creamy mash, mange tout and truffle sauce was delicious, the lamb cooked perfectly medium rare. Dessert – Pavlova, him, creme de menthe hot chocolate, me – liquor!

We did walk back to our hotel all down hill, luckily long-sufferings sense of direction is excellent, left up to me we would have ended uptown. He tuts repeatedly at me as he grabs my hand, harbour-side after all will not be found uphill!

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Tomorrow the real adventure begins as we pick up our Wilderness motor home for the Road Trip of a lifetime……..

Waiheke Island

 

The long sufferings carefully worked out itinerary for our second day hinged on us hiring two retro scooters to tour this very hilly, highly populated, second largest island in the gulf.  Neither of us had ever ridden any form of motorised two wheeled transport before, slightly worrying!

The ferry crossing over to Waiheke island from Auckland took about forty minutes on a flat calm sea.  Our arrival on the island started thus: bus to scooter pick up – long suffering leaves hat on bus, very morose, lots of grumbling, it’s his favourite! First hire place won’t hire to us  – big, beautiful, red scooters..not for novices..cases of accidents reported!! All was not lost they did recommend someone who might hire!

Long sufferings shoulders severely slumped as we made the short walk into town -his itinerary already on shaky ground. Sure enough on the forecourt of a shop that was in the process of being renovated six small scooters were lined up and strung together by a locked chain.

On a small chalkboard was the owners number to call. There followed a period of us both typical tourist – especially long suffering in his newly purchased emblazoned Waiheke cap – walking up and down the parade of shops in our quest for first a phone card – we ended up with a hopper bus one? And then a SIM card for the spare phone back in our hotel room! Eventually the deed was done, phone card purchased, box located, phone call made, and long suffering placated.

Brian when he arrived on his huge motorbike did not disappoint, a few wobbly moments ensued when a) he realised the road bikes we rode at home were actually push bikes and b) my trial ride saw me disappearing into the distance at a painfully slow, jolting 5mph my feet scooting either side.  Happily long-suffering saved the day and rode like he was born to it, the hire was on……

 

I would seriously recommend hiring scooters to get about. We covered the island over the day almost end to end. Stopping at secluded hidden coves, walking through wooded trails to get to some, exiting undergrowth we were treated to breathtaking views over the bay and beyond at every turn.

Scooters are a fun, safe – even in my wobbly hands – way to get around. We were our version of ‘easy riders’, teenagers again without a care in the world, as we followed – sometimes slowly uphill – the quiet steep winding roads snaking higher and then dropping downward to beautiful coastlines below.

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Recommended by Brian we spent time lazing on Onetangi beach a stunning 1.87km in length, of gorgeous soft golden sand and almost empty of other people. Two restaurant/bars either end – we tried them both -supplied us with tea and beer – only one – we did not want to be drunk in charge and add to the casualty count!

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All too soon it was time to head back, dropping off the bikes we caught the bus back to the ferry and joy of joys same bus, same driver = one lost favourite hat. The long suffering was elated a perfect end to a perfect day and we still had the Auckland sky tower to experience later………