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Kia Ora From New Zealand
By Audrey
The Queen of All Streets  

I'm sorry. I couldn't resist it. I had to use the word Kia Ora somewhere in this column. Well, not as if I know much of their native language, anyway. During my short stint in New Zealand, I managed to pick up just two Maori words: Kia Ora and Aoteroa (difficulty pronouncing it even till today). Between Kia Ora from New Zealand and News from Aoteroa, the former won the approval from the rest of the honorable writers of the Editorial team. As such, Kia Ora From New Zealand was chosen to represent this column.

A delightful Maori word, Kia Ora is widely used throughout New Zealand; not just by the native Moaris, but by the Kiwis themselves … and the Koreans, the Japanese, the Chinese, the Taiwanese, and literally anyone and everyone. Kia Ora simply means hello or welcome. They are probably the first two words to greet you at the airport as well. It's a beautiful word, simple to pronounce, and easy to remember.

Now now, let's not take the thunder away from the actual purpose of this article. Allow me to introduce to you the queen of all streets, the famous Queen Street at Central Auckland. It's a long stretch of about 3 to 4 kilometers or was it 5 kilometers? (Sorry, I'm not too good with distance calculations). Anyhow, this is one cool street. There is no way you could get lost on Queen Street although it is difficult to say for those with a reeeaaally bad sense of direction. Queen Street is one straight road… you walk either down or up the long stretch (duh!). This is my favorite street, as there is just so much to observe, so much to do, and so many places to shop and dine… you could even get away with some pretty good bargains.

As I was planning for this article, I listed down all the places/shops of interests. The list grew pretty long once I started taking note of all these interesting places. Nonetheless, it was exciting reminiscing of good ol' times.

Queen Street is a hot spot for both tourists and locals. Students from Auckland University (AU) and Auckland Institute of Technology (AIT) roam the streets at all hours of the day, going in and out of the many shops available along the kaleidoscopic stretch. There's always something for everyone though I find the selection of food rather bland with its McDonalds, Wendys, and Burger Kings. Then again, I'm not a fast-food person. A good yum char (literally drink tea in Chinese) restaurant would be North Garden, which is located on the first floor of MidCity. Reasonably priced, the ambience and variety makes for quite a good place to fill the stomach.

Still on the topic of food, there is one place that I simply love. Delicious, fresh oven-baked cookies over at Mrs. Higgins is super-duper delicious. You could smell the aroma of macadamia, white chocolate, double-choc chip cookies long before you spot the little cubicle that houses Mrs. Higgins' cookies on the left side of Queen Street. There are also a variety of yummy brownies and other cookies for sale.

As you walk past Mrs. Higgins, loud noises that sound like gunshots, cheers from a rally ground, and other electronic gadgets would greet you. Welcome to Control Room. The video arcade outlet with a variety of video games and pinball machines. There is also a pool area for pool enthusiasts.

Scattered along Queen Street are the many music stores. CDs are dirt-cheap. Dig through the Bargain Bins at Marbecks and you are likely to find CDs priced from NZ$1 - $3. Not your cup of tea? No worries… Like I've mentioned before, Queen Street always has something for everyone.

At the crossroads, you will find Whitcoulls, a bookstore with a little of everything. Stationery can be found at the lower ground floor. Little things such as cards, wrapping papers, boxes, items on sale, and the latest releases are found on the main floor. Magazines are found on the second floor with more stationery. There is also a little café on the first floor. One floor up is where the 'serious' books are located; for example, textbooks, business, law, special interests (gardening, sewing, sports, etc.), motivational books, and many more will fall under this category. Do inquire with staff members if you can't find what you want.

Banks surround Whitcoulls on all sides. ASB Bank, ANZ, Westpac Trust, and the National Bank are just a few of the banks located in this area. Banks in New Zealand are efficient with a good track of customer service. Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) operate on an on-line system, thus allowing you to access your account from any ATMs regardless of your designated bank. Alternatively, you could also use your ATM card for payment through the Electronic Fund Transfer Pont of Sale (EFTPOS).

All this money talk reminds me of the hefty amount I had spent on SHOPPING during my stay in New Zealand! I tell you…it was terrible! My favorite shopping hangout was at Glassons. You'll find me there almost every other day and I was so faithful to them that I could even tell who was wearing clothing from Glassons and who wasn't. This outlet offers fashionable, quality clothing, all slapped with prices that won't make you faint. Although they only specialize in clothing, Glassons does offer handbags and other accessories. Do watch out for their end-of-season sales, as it'll be a shopper's paradise with tons of opportunity to splurge.

For something a little more upmarket, visit Smith & Caughey's. Housed in a classic looking building, the selections in Smith & Caughey are rather expensive for the average student, which I was then. I do like their range of handbags and accessories though. This store also carries a good range of Nike products although they are rather expensive. But if you are a fan of Nike products or other sports attire, MidCity is the place to go. There are several little shops under MidCity's roof, including a tattoo parlor and several Village Force Cinemas, although I did hear that the latter would be closed down. Anyway, there is one particular shop in MidCity that sells rather cheap Nike goods and other well-known brands. For a reaaaaalllllllly cheap thrill, you shouldn't miss the $2 Shop. Everything in there is sold at only NZ$2. It's a really good bargain. Do keep a lookout for new products as they are brought in quite often.

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