Friday, September 30 (Day 29)
All the nearby hostels in central Auckland are full, and that is with them charging 50-60 dollars for a solitary dorm bed. I am tempted to store my bags somewhere, sneak into one of the hostels tonight and find a sofa to sleep on, but it is going to be a long day. Checked out at 10, the South Africa match isn’t until 8.30pm and by the time I get back from North Harbour and have a beer it will likely be well past midnight.
A lad in reception tells me he was in the same boat but, having worked in hostels, he knows that they always block off a load of beds for the likes of Hostel World. Perched on my backpack, watching the early morning suits surge by for the second consecutive morning, I wifi up and manage to sort myself a bed for the night. It basically means checking out of Camel Nomads and lugging my stuff 50 metres down the road to the another hostel with almost the same name. Tomorrow, I will need to check out once more and repeat the 50 metre walk back to the first place. By booking it online not only have I made a full hostel, available, but both hostels are around 12 dollars a night cheaper than their new ‘weekend rate’, available to desperate English, Scottish and South Africans if there are ‘no shows’.
The Auckland Art Gallery is well worth a morning of anybody’s time. The gallery boasts an excellent fusion of the contemporary and the past two centuries’ of New Zealand and international art, which also sums up the atmosphere of the building with its glass interiors and colonial façade on its other wing. My favourite works are:
‘The Legend of Sir Patrick Spens’, a haunting painting depicting Scottish women waiting in vain hope on a windswept cliff for their men to return from the sea.
‘The phantom canoe’, by Kennett Watkins, is a marvellously atmospheric Maori piece.
‘Milford Sound’, by John Perett, which captures the unique beauty and scale of New Zealand’s most iconic fjord.
And I also like the 1883 depiction of Auckland’s Queen Street by Jacques Carabain. Strolling aimlessly down it last night it is now easy for me to superimpose the Queen Street of yesteryear onto the modern day version. If you get the chance, google these images as the first three really are gorgeous pieces.
There’s a genuine party atmosphere down by the wharf where thousands of rugby fans from all over the world enjoy the various exhibitions and drinking halls that have been set up for the world cup. I am absolutely on my back when I see the prices they want for the official world cup merchandising. They want 180 dollars for a replica shirt (95 pounds) and 260 dollars (140 pounds) for a half decent water proof with the IRBA world cup logo sewn on it. To put this in perspective, you could get your hands on a jacket every bit as good as the one mentioned in England for 20-30 quid, minus the logo. You can probably guess where these clothes were manufactured and for how little. But clearly the global economic disaster that is currently playing out isn’t bothering too many of the fans present at this tournament; the official merchandising tills are ringing like it’s the week before Christmas.
The joy of branding and globalization: manufacture a garment in a third world sweat shop, paying peanuts for it; stick on a logo, and make a 500 per cent profit. I know people who still genuinely think that because an item of clothing has the Nike or Adidas logo on it, it must be well made and well worth paying silly prices for. You point out to them that it has been made by a Bangladeshi or Vietnamese woman working 12 hour days in shocking conditions for a couple of dollars a day, and they will still tell you ‘But it is Adidas. It is much better quality’.