I woke up in the morning and could hardly wait to see my family again! I got ready in a jiffy and walked to their hotel – with my hair still wet! Now that’s devotion 😉 I cannot decide if I am mooching or not, but the hotel has a great breakfast service that I eagerly took advantage of, despite the fact that I am not their real guest. At night, the service staff stocks the kitchenette with seedy buns (that sounds gross but they are fantastic!), yoghurt, oat bars, and fruit. I went to town!
Of course I didn’t hit the breakfast staff too hard, since our first stop in the morning was the Farmer’s Market. In the early morning, it was raining so hard that I thought the market would be cancelled for sure, but by the time we were walking down, it turned into a beautiful morning and I was pleased to see all of my favorite vendors.
First stop, as always, was Phillipe’s Chocolates and Patisserie for my last chocolate almond croissant.
I also bought Sammy a chocolate-filled sugary donut. Happy girls with their pastries!
Next, we simply needed a coffee and the sweet coffee lady speedily prepared our large drink order with ease and elegance. Nothing is more quintessentially New Zealand than a silver fern Flat White decoration:
Mom and I had so much fun tasting natural peanut butter made in Nelson, manuka honey-coated local macadamia nuts, and gouda cheeses (from Matatoki farm, where David and I went in Coromandel! Imagine that!). I love all the fresh, artful food that can be found at farmer’s markets!
David and Dad surprised me with their enthusiasm over the Felafel Man – they got a fresh pita sandwich (with his fantastic hummus, legendary felafel balls, and Mediterranean salad on his fluffy fresh pita bread)! I didn’t want to leave Auckland without getting one one last time, so Mom and I split one as an early lunch, too.
After we’d had the whole market experience, we made our way up Queen Street to Town Hall to see some Kapa Haka (traditional Maori performing arts) performances. We made a few notable shopping-stops along the way. We poked into the Rugby World Cup Official Store, which is always cool, but the most fun was a wool shop. New Zealand is the only place in the world where you can get Merino Possum wool (the second-warmest fur, next to polar bear ;)) and we had so much fun trying on shawls and sweaters with the Russian woman who owned the place. They make such beautiful stuff.
After picking up our Kapa Haka tickets, we realized that we had some free time, so I took the family to Habitual Fix for a quick snack before we found our seats. We got great ones, front and center!
I was so excited to be able to share the kapa haka with my family, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. You can easily see performances all over Auckland, but nothing would have been as authentic as this. It was a competition between local teams, and we got to hear some beautifully moving waiata (song), see some seriously complicated poi, and some chilling haka. Of course the music is my favorite bit of the Maori culture, and it is something that I will miss the most when I leave Aotearoa. I was moved to tears with their incredible expression and raw passion.
One of the most exciting parts of the performance was right at the beginning, when Dad went up on stage to dance. They were giving away a basic phone with $20 credit on it to any international audience member who would come up on stage and learn a bit of an action song. My Dad bravely took the stage after my mom volunteered him:
He’s such a good sport. Plus, it’s been so great to be able to call and text them while they are here!
The rest of the competition, even besides the performances, were great. They did a great job at providing entertainment between the groups and while the judges were tallying the scores. A few cute kiwi kids volunteered to tell some jokes.
Did you hear the joke about the desert? It was dry.
Who do fish see when they are sick? The doctopus.
Then one hilarious, large Maori man went up on stage to tell a joke that had us all bent over with laughter. I won’t share it because it’s slightly controversial 😉
I was also really pleased to see a familiar face! We learned about the kapa haka, and the man who came in to give a guest lecture played for a bit! He’s the one on the left.
After the show, we went back to the hotel to relax for a bit, and then we took a bus to Ponsonby, the trendy neighbor hood, for dinner at Murder Burger.
We found the dark burger joint on a corner. It serves up free-range, organic burgers with good-quality fries. They even had kumara, the native sweet potato, fries!
Sam tried L&P!!!! True to her sweet-tooth self, she loved it!
For my dinner, I got a free-range chicken burger with jalepeno pesto. It was just a bit spicy, and the chicken was really good (though I admit I don’t have a very good meat palate). I appreciated the fact that, though it was murdered for my enjoyment, it probably had a lovely, free-roaming life. Maybe.
We took the bus back into Auckland Central and were lucky because Mrs. Higgin’s Oven Fresh Cookies was still open!
This little street-side counter has odd hours, but serves up excellently freshly-baked, gooey cookies. We each had one before heading over to Father Ted’s. My study abroad adviser’s band was playing, and I knew my family would like their music, so I wanted them to stay if they had the strength. To pass the time, David and Mom played pool.
Mom won because David knocked in the 8 Ball. HAH! I thought the band would start playing at 9:30pm, because that’s when the Facebook event started, but I was wrong. Don’t they look patient, yet exhausted???
There was a pretty talented opener, though! An Irish guy and his guitar kept us entertained with lots of edgy, acoustic covers. Guinness helped pass the time, too.
After waiting almost an hour longer than they planned to stay, I finally sent the family home to bed after we overheard the band say they wouldn’t start until 10:30. Hannah and I waited though! It was our last chance to see them, and we’d been waiting all night, so we stuck it out for a few songs. We had only planned on staying for their opening song, which was a cool version of “Grapevine,” but when they started a rock cover of Bruno Mars (my Justin Bieber) I knew we had to stay! We called it a night after the second song. I was too tired to stay! The family would have loved dancing to their Killer’s cover, modern takes on classic rock songs, and rock versions of Aretha Franklin, but sometimes sleep is better 🙂