Long Weekend in Kiwiland Pt V: Animals & Auckland

Pt I: Prologue
Pt II: Long Haul LCC
Pt III: Rotten Eggs
Pt IV: Volcanos
Pt V: Animals & Auckland
Pt VI: 3K 402
Pt VII: Epilogue

We had to bid adieu to our room at Novotel as we would be driving back to Auckland later in the day.

Since our intention was to attend the 11.00am Sheep Show at Agrodome, we had plenty of time before that to go to Pak’nSave again to get more golden kiwis.

Then we went to i-Site for one last time to purchase my ride at Zorb’s competitor OGO.

It was drizzling slightly when we arrived at OGO Rotorua.

Gonna roll down that slope...

That trip to i-Site saved me 10 NZD as it cost 45 NZD for a single person ride at the door.

Furthermore rental of wet gear was thrown in for free so I wouldn’t need a change of clothes.

After changing into the provided t-shirt and shorts I was driven up to the top of the slope in a 4WD.

The friendly staff filled up the interior of the “ball” with warm water before inviting me to climb in.

After confirming that I was ready to go, he gave the “ball” a gentle nudge and off it went.

It started slowly but soon it picked up momentum….

I could hardly sit up and was on my back most of the time.

For a while I thought the thing would go on forever but in reality it lasted all of thirty seconds.

Finally it came to a stop when it encountered an up-slope.

Posed for some pictures but I didn’t think they were worth 25 NZD so I declined the DVD.

Overall the whole experience was good fun and it could be even funnier if friends went together.

Agrodome was just a couple of minutes round the corner.

Beautiful rainbow

As mentioned earlier we had purchased Agrodome Gold Pass which entitled us to watch the sheep show and go on the farm tour.

It cost 52 NZD per person at the door but only 42 NZD from i-Site.

More savings thanks to i-Site. 🙂

The previous sheep show was still ongoing when we arrived.

Dog herding sheeps

Hard to beat the backdrop

The crew were still cleaning the place up when we entered the venue of the sheep show.

However the visitors were free to take pictures of the different breeds of sheeps.

Baaaaaaa

Look at those horns

Our energetic host started by asking which countries the visitors were from before introducing the different types of sheeps.

Full of sheeps

No sheep show was complete without shearing.

Before...

Goodbye my fleece

Edward Scissorhand

Halfway done

Almost....

After!

Then some members of the audience were invited on stage to milk the cow.

Milking

One of the Australian guys even tried to spray the milk into his friends below the stage.

Few other members of the audience also got to feed baby sheeps with water bottles.

Cute

The last part involved shepherd dogs before the show was moved outdoors (again).

Dogs

After seeing the dogs herding the sheeps, we went to take a look at the woolen mill.

Mill

Unfortunately according to the guide the woolen mill was on holiday as well so we had to make do with her explanation and video images from the DVD.

The farm tour was timed to start 10 minutes after the sheep show ended and there were quite a few familiar faces from the earlier show.

The participants were seated in a open trailer (with roof of course) pulled by the tractor driven by the guide.

It was clearly autumn

It had to be the coldest ride ever since there was no protection from the wind at all.

The animals were clearly more adequately prepared than us.

Dressed for winter

First stop was feeding the ostriches.

They knew that they were going to get fed

The guide prepared plenty of feed for us to feed the animals.

Feeding time

Then we moved on to the other animals.

Huge bison

Greedy sheeps

One point to note: the ground was full of their excrement. Gross.

Our guide with the booty

We got a break from the animals when the guide drove the tractor into the organic orchards.

Kiwi orchards

Apparently the kiwi fruits weren’t ripe yet and it would take another couple more weeks before they would be plucked.

After visiting the orchards, we went for some tasting at a farmhouse.

Nice escape from blustering wind.

The guide offered us kiwi juice and wine as well as honey.

Yummy kiwi juice

Can tell its popularity from the trash

Honey

After the tasting we were back in the trailer to see more animals.

Llama or alpaca?

They weren't afraid of humans at all

Apparently the guide told us that these animals had been trained so that visitors could feed them.

This group couldn't be bothered to fight others for food

At the last part of the tour we got up close with the cows.

Couldn't recall their names

Think it's a jersey

After the show we ate some snacks before heading back towards Auckland.

Prior to visiting Agrodome I had filled Elfie with 30 NZD worth of RON 91 petrol.

It was drizzling/raining on the road out of Rotorua and it only cleared up after we passed Tirau.

We stopped by Cambridge (seemed to be a quaint little town) for a late lunch at KFC.

The only memorable thing about that KFC meal was the extremely salty fries.

The GPS took me through a series of small roads between Cambridge and Taupiri where I re-joined Highway 1 towards Auckland.

As the afternoon wore on, with the sun shining into my eyes most of the time, I got quite tired while driving.

In fact I experienced microsleep for a split second while at the wheel.

It prompted me to look for the next rest station where I took a break and washed my face before continuing.

As Elfie and us approached Auckland, the number of cars on the roads steadily increased.

In fact there were stretches where we could only do 20km/h.

The roads of Auckland were kinda confusing but luckily we had GPS to guide us.

After around 3.5 hours on the road, we finally reached our hotel at 5pm.

Bianco off Queen

We were offered the option to park our car in the hotel’s garage but we declined and chose to park on the street instead.

The parking rate within Auckland CBD isn’t cheap at 4 NZD per hour; luckily it is only applicable between 8am and 6pm on weekdays.

The hotel seemed to be Indian-ran and the staff were eager to please.

Our room was a 2 bedroom apartment which came with kitchen and laundry facilities (approx. 130 SGD per night).

Living room

My bedroom for the night

Shower/Toilet

After using the toilet I found myself stuck inside with the door jammed and refused to be opened.

Minutes after a call to the reception a Sikh repairman came up to rescue me but the issue wasn’t completely solved.

More on that later.

Since we only had an evening in Auckland, we decided to just take a walk down Queen St.

Town Hall

The light condition wasn’t optimal but I tried my best to take another picture of Auckland Town Hall.

From another angle

Junction

What surprised me was how cosmopolitan Auckland actually is.

It appeared that one-third of the population there are Asians (either Chinese or Indian) and there weren’t many Pakehas around.

Auckland indeed felt different from the NZ which I had been seeing for the previous two days.

We kept walking until we hit the sea.

Britomart Train Station

Auckland Ferry Centre

We turned into Albert Street and came across a food court (Food Alley).

Between the three of us we had a huge serving of mixed kebab with rice, a gigantic bowl of pho as well as some Vietnamese spring rolls.

Now I could comprehend how NZ manages to produce those All Blacks

Any self-respecting Asian tourist wouldn’t leave NZ without visiting SkyTower.

Auckland SkyTower

Obviously not for the bungy jump but the casino.

Since I didn’t fancy losing my hard-earned money to SkyCity, I went around observing the punters while my mom tried her luck with the slots.

Some general observations…

Observation 1: More than half of the punters were Asians.

Asians sure love to gamble.

Observation 2: Many Asians seemed to be college-age kids.

So they were there to gamble their education away ?

Observation 3: The air inside smelled much better than on the streets.

Smoking ban was strongly enforced in the casino while the streets reeked of tobacco smoke.

I decided to hang around a roulette table which had two punters. There was this Indian punter who thought nothing of losing 200 NZD a round. When he was out of chips, he just took out his wads of 50s and exchange them for more with barely any emotion.

After I was done observing him, I moved on to see the semi-high rollers at the baccarat tables. The minimum bet there was 100 NZD and the punters were betting significantly higher at those tables (max 30,000 NZD).

It was quite interesting to see the reactions of the gamblers. On one table, there was a Chinese lady who got really pissed with her cards and angrily threw them back at the croupier. On another table. an elderly male punter was seen blowing at his pair of cards. It didn’t seem to bring him any luck though.

By then my mom had graduated and decided to play tai sai.

Despite being a Chinese game, most gamblers around the only table in the casino were Indians.

While my mom was placing her bets, my sis and I overheard this in Mandarin (couldn’t place the accent; probably Malaysian):

“我现在在澳洲, 不方便讲电话。“ [I’m in Australia now so it’s not convenient to take your call.]

My sis and I had a good laugh as the man couldn’t tell Auckland from Australia!

Most probably too caught up with gambling.

We convinced my mom to cash in after she was up 40 NZD from the initial capital of 100 as it was already close to 10pm.

Most of the eating places were shutting down when we were walking back to our hotel.

Back at our room it was my mom’s turn to get stuck in the toilet.

With some instruction from the reception, I managed to extricate her out of the toilet.

To prevent any more of us from being trapped in the toilet and consequently missed our flight home, we decided to improvise with some tissue paper.

Yeah the door won't close but it beats being trapped

Our drama didn’t just end there as my mom discovered the washing machine and the dryer concealed in the cabinet.

The idea of having clean laundered clothes before returning to Singapore was too tempting and we tried to use the washing machines.

Well it nearly ended up as a disaster as we didn’t quite understand the pre-set modes.

Once the washing machine was set in motion, we could not stop it and withdraw our laundry no matter how hard we tried.

Finally after figuring out how to stop the machine, we decided that it wasn’t worth the effort.

User-unfriendly machines

Our breakfast the next morning was provided by the hotel and consisted of the following items:

Bread roll
Raisin bread
Butter/Jam
Yogurt
Fruit juice
Coffee/Tea

Our flight was scheduled to depart at 11.25am so we departed Auckland rather early at five past eight.

Feeling slightly adventurous, I decided to ignore GPS’s direction and followed the road sign for the airport instead,

The route wasn’t on the expressways and took me through some of Auckland’s residential suburbs.

At the next petrol station I filled Elfie up with the 40 NZD courtesy of SkyCity the previous evening.

Elfie had been a good companion but we were glad to return him in order to go home.

Three days after arriving in NZ, we were back in AKL again.

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