We went a bit “New Orleans” in Parnell last night, looking for somewhere to eat. And stumbled across Hog Heaven Louisiana Smokehouse. Hog Heaven resides in the historic 1885 Kemp’s General Store. Kemps were merchants, tailors, drapers, mercers and milliners back in the day, and said to be the best all round store in Auckland. With tangy Pulled Pork for her, and a plate of smoky ribs for him, it certainly was a tasty dining experience, which lefts the lips feeling a little tingly!
Dining at Hog Heaven
Our motel is just across the road from the Parnell Village shops. This unique shopping centre is set in lovely old vintage homes, all merging together along cobbled pathways and pretty gardens, with businesses ranging from restaurants, coffee bars, jewellers, and other assorted posh shops. The brainchild of Les Harvey, who created the village “to share his love of people, plants, simplicity and the sun”. Parnell is one of New Zealand's most affluent suburbs, and is often billed as Auckland's "oldest suburb" since it dates from the earliest days of the European settlement of Auckland in 1841.
Then we left Parnell behind and decided to fill in part of the day travelling around on the Auckland Explorer Bus. And here it comes. We had to do a bit of haggling to get our senior discount – wonder if we had picked up an Aussie twang after being away the last few weeks. Once we mentioned the magic words Gold Card, the driver was happy to discount our fare, and we took off on the Red Circle Tour.
Double Decker Explorer Bus
Driving into the city, we got good views of the Sky Tower. The Sky Tower stands 328 meters tall and has been a feature of the sky line for almost 20 years. The brave and foolhardy do all sorts of adrenaline activities, while others go for dining, breath taking views and to play the pokies.
Auckland’s iconic Sky Tower
We drove past the lovely old Civic Theatre, recently refurbished, we were told. And famous for featuring in the King Kong movie. Can you remember the scene when King Kong snapped his chains while on stage? This is where he did it – and no, we never knew that!
Our tour took us past Prices Wharf, and the Viaduct Basin – the basin was developed in the year 2000 when the America's Cup was hosted by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. Up Bastion Point we drove, the site of longstanding occupation by Maori protestors (507 days) in the late 70s. The occupation became a major landmark in the history of Māori protest. In the 1980s New Zealand Government returned the land to Ngāti Whātua, with compensation, as part of a Treaty of Waitangi settlement process.
With school holidays in full swing, the car park of Kelly Tartlon’s was full to overflowing. Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium is a public aquarium in Auckland, and was opened in 1985 , the brainchild of New Zealand marine archaeologist and diver Kelly Tarlton. It doesn’t look much from the top – all the action is underneath. Built in disused sewage storage tanks, the aquarium used a new form of acrylic shaping, which allowed curved tunnels. The project was also one of the first to use conveyor belts to slowly move people through the viewing areas.
Entrance to Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium
We swapped buses at the Auckland Museum, and continued on our way, on the Blue Circle Tour. No double decker bus this time. And look what we saw driving back into the city – a big boxer dog enjoying his drive with his head and leg hanging out!
Bus number 2, and a dog out on the motorway
Robin got a sporty fix as we drove past Eden Park, and the statue of All Black Michael Jones out front. Eden Park was used in the inaugural 1987 Rugby World Cup and the 2011 Rugby World Cup, the first ground to host two Rugby World Cup finals.
Past Auckland Zoo, and Motat, both popular places to visit
Then it was a matter of driving under the notorious Spaghetti Junction, so called because all the intertwined road traffic interchanges resemble a plate of spaghetti. We arrived back at the Museum, changed buses once more, and travelled back down to Parnell. It had been a fun couple of hours, and we had driven past places new to us, all in all two interesting tours.
On the Buses