Finally, after months of anticipation and a few days of planning, we are here in Auckland facing a few days of post-arrival organisation; getting huts passes, information brochures on walking tracks and other places of interest, extra gear that we could not bring over and, most importantly buying a car.
Auckland is a modern, cosmopolitan city that, like other such cities has succumbed to the temptation to seek immortality by reaching for the sky - in this case the Sky Tower, at 312m the tallest building in the southern hemisphere, by sheer chance (?) a few metres taller than the equivalent edifice in Sydney. The tower, glowing blue at night above the casino at its base, symbolises modern Auckland and forms an interesting contrast in style and purpose to the simple obelisk built on One Tree Hill in the 19th century to honour the Maori people.
As we sipped a hot chocolate in the tower restaurant, someone in brightly clad overalls plummeted past the window on a 192 m "sky jump". It reminded us that New Zealand is the adrenalin rush capital of the world, with more jumps, leaps, dives, and other "thrills" per square metre than anywhere else. Will our sedate walking trip stand up against all this? I have never understood the urge to part with large sums of money for a few seconds of absolute fear - perhaps I should discuss this further with the fair Nello, who did leap off the bridge over the Zambezi river attached only to a thin rubber band.