Monday afternoon, Mr. N and I hopped on the hour-long flight to Auckland to sort out his visa to come back to the US and have a bit of a mini holiday. I’d never been in Auckland, outside the airport, so it was nice to have a small visit to the biggest city in New Zealand, especially as we squeezed in visits to two yarn shops in as many days!
We arrived Monday afternoon and, after a quick sushi lunch, headed to our hotel which sat on Viaduct Harbor, where we had a nice view of all the moored boats.
Monday night we had dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant called Cafe Hanoi, and man, was it amazing. Housed in a rather nondescript building near the train station, on the inside, the restaurant had tons of charm: bits of exposed brick and concrete and tons of giant paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling. Despite it being a Monday night, the place was quite buzzy. We managed to snag two seats at the communal table, which looks onto the restaurant’s open kitchen … we spent a lot of time oohing and aahing over the dishes coming out. We’d had a late lunch and weren’t massively hungry .. so we started with some awesome summer rolls, then shared lemongrass beef with rice noodles, along with an awesome cabbage salad, pickled carrot and daikon and a pumpkin side. They also had really great cocktails: I had one with vodka, mint syrup, lime and apple bitters (which really came through) and Mr. N, a surprisingly delicious Kombucha Julep. As we ate, we saw several orders of splendid looking donuts leaving the kitchen, so we squeezed a few of those in at the end of the meal. It was a really cool place, and if you find yourself in Auckland, I’d definitely recommend it. I’m looking forward to being back in the kitchen and trying to approximate some of the dishes at home!
As soon as Mr. N’s visa appointment finished Tuesday morning, we moved onto taking care of the really essential business of the trip: visiting Auckland’s knitting shops. Wild and Woolly Yarns was the first stop, which is in Devonport, across the harbor from Auckland. We had a very pleasant ferry ride over, with great views of the city.
We missed the yarn shop the first time we walked up the main street in Devenport and didn’t realize it until we made it to the base of Mount Victoria, also known as Takarunga. We decided we’d take a little tootle up the hill, where you can get great views of the city and surrounding area. As we went up, we turned a corner and what was sitting there? A sacred kingfisher, the same bird that I’ve used as a color inspiration for my hap!
I couldn’t believe my luck. The bird was quite sedate, sitting quietly as I stared and stared. He or she (there’s apparently only very minor differences in the appearance of male and female kingfishers, or kotare, as they’re known in Maori) crossed the tennis court twice to find a new perch, and it’s wings spread out were a sight to behold. My little camera lens couldn’t get a good close up (a reminder that it’s maybe time to invest in some more lenses!), but I’m pleased as punch that I got site of one and was able to spend quite a bit of time admiring it at relatively close quarters.
Once at the top, we did have very nice views including one of Rangitoto Island, which, like the mount we stood on, is a volcano.
After our walk and a very satisfying curry, we headed to Wild and Woolly Yarns, a yarn shop with a very nice selection of New Zealand wool, run by an incredibly helpful and friendly proprietor. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, but ended up walking out with two skeins of this bulky New Zealand wool to make a pillow — the shop sample was very pretty (I wish I’d snapped a photo, but I was too busy chatting with the owner).
With yarn in hand, we headed back into the city and caught up with a friend at a local pub. That evening, we had another fabulous dinner at Ramen Takara Ponsonby, where the ramen, as you would hope, was delicious, as was a tuna sashimi and avocado salad that we had to start. It was a trip of really good eating 🙂
Wednesday morning we headed back up to Ponsonby and, after a yummy breakfast (complete with a little knitting on my Shire Socks), wandered in and out of the posh shops in that neighborhood. We headed back down the hill to collect Mr. N’s visa and, as luck would have it, there was another yarn shop that I could entertain myself in while he waited right by the US consulate office. Owned by an American ex-pat, New Zealand Fabrics and Yarn specializes, as the name suggests, in fiber and fabric from New Zealand. The selection is really incredible, and again, the owner was quite friendly. I was tempted by some lace weight, but in the end, talked myself out of it. I did succumb to these two adorably printed fabrics (which, ironically, were some of the few things in the shop not made in NZ — they come from Japan):
Do I sew, you might ask? Not at all … so it makes total sense to be buying fabric! But these were just so cute, and a dear friend of mine recently gave me her spare sewing machine … so I thought maybe I could muddle my way through some throw pillows, or something!
In all, a very nice visit! Alright, off to try to finish the Shire Socks … I’ve got about an inch on the cuffs, and two heels, to go! I hope to pop in one more time before we leave New Zealand, but we’ll see … in the meantime, happy knitting!