Today started with a collect call to the RBC Bank in Canada... my debit card had inexplicably stopped working in ATMs, and I was afraid my account had been frozen as a well-intentioned security measure. It felt kind of surreal to be speaking to someone at the Royal Bank in Duncan while I stood in the hallway of a hostel in Auckland, New Zealand. Turns out nothing had been frozen on my account, and the bank teller couldn't suggest anything beyond perhaps the magnetic stripe on the card being damaged. Thankfully, when I went out later that morning I tried my card in the ATM of the KiwiBank and it worked, but still doesn't work in two other banks' ATMs. Go figure. Thank goodness I now have a working New Zealand Bank Account, so I can soon stop relying on drawing funds from my Canadian Account via debit card.
Today the weather was once again wet and misting, so I decided to visit the Auckland Art Gallery, which had exhibits open by donation: "Goldie and Lindauer: Approaching Portraiture" and "Local Revolutionaries: Art and Change, 1965-1986". Charlie Goldie and Gottfried Lindauer are New Zealand's most famous portrait painters, and the subjects in this exhibit were primarily of Māori and Pakeha descent. Goldie was known for his photorealism, while Lindauer for the expressiveness and character of his subjects imbued into his works. Not being a visual artist, I am not able to comment on the techniques and approaches of each painter (my Grandpa Taylor would be much better suited to do so), but I equally enjoyed each painter's approach. The second exhibit, "Local Revolutionaries", was a collection of a variety of different mediums and techniques, from traditional canvas and paint to wire and mesh creations designed to catch the light and cast intricate shadows, to wood and metal sculptures, to a clothesline strung with painted and stiffened (starched?) clothing. Perhaps not for everyone, but as a fan of modern art I was intrigued.
After a lunch in the art gallery café of a tuna sandwich and quite possibly the strongest and best ginger beer I have ever had (BundAberg Ginger Beer, served in a stubby bottle, and packs *quite* a punch!), I headed over to the Auckland Sky Tower. Completed in 1997, it is 328 metres tall and the tallest structure in New Zealand. For $28 dollars one can take an elevator up to the two observation decks: the Main Observation level, 186m up in the air, and the Sky Deck at 220m, both offering a 360º panoramic view of Auckland (apparently on a clear day one can see for 80km in all directions... it was cloudy, so I estimate I could see for about 60km). The Main Observation level has sections of the floor removed and replaced with 38mm thick glass, so one can effectively walk on "nothing" and look down to see the ground 186m below. Even with the reassuring signs saying the glass is "just as strong as the concrete you are walking on", I still saw people giving each other queasy looks and holding onto the balcony rail as they walked over the glass. The elevators also have glass panels in the floor, allowing one to look down and see the elevator shaft (again, no one wants to stand on that part of the elevator floor... on the way down I ended up standing on it as none of the people in the elevator with me would!). The Sky Deck contains signs pointing out important buildings on the skyline, which gave me a few ideas of places I would like to go visit this weekend.
Later in the afternoon I headed over to IEP to give them photocopies of my important identification documents for security purposes, and met up with Mille, Bodil, Jacob, and Selma. After a visit to the Auckland Public Library (mainly to make use of their free WiFi, but also for nerds like me to oooh and ahhh over their extensive collection), we bought some pasta noodles, and combined with some cheese and pesto the Danes already had in their room, and made a quite passable dinner in the kitchen of the hostel. Wendy and Julia joined us for dinner, and the seven of us played cards in the common area of the hostel until 10:30 at night. Oh, yes, this is what the cool kids do on a Friday night: play a variant of Slapjack, Crazy Eights, and Asshole! It was also amusing to play with German cards, which say "B" for Jack, and "D" for Queen, and with everyone constantly going "what was this called again? Clums?" (clubs). It had never occurred to me that the suits had different names in different languages, but in retrospect... duh.
Tomorrow I promised to proof-read Bodil's cover letter, and weather permitting, I'll be taking a ferry ride over to Waiheke Island.