AUT Shuttle Pub Crawl
After crawling off a twice-delayed flight with less than two hours sleep in my system from the night before, I knew the only thing that would wake me up would be a double shot of Jameson and that crucial wedge of lime. Our plan was to down as many drinks as possible before the uni buses took off; I’d be heading to South Campus and Harry to his familiar North Shore Campus.
It would’ve probably been more fitting to shotgun Billie Mav’s in preparation for my Southside experience, but nothing screams ‘I poured a wine at my Dad’s sailing regatta once’ than telling the bartender to hold the ice in my mix of Irish spirits and dry. However, as we entered Vesbar only one thing stood in our way; a wild pack of new international students had descended into Vesbar, looking for heart to hearts and to make new friends. Harry and I weren’t here to make friends however, but to destroy our own friendship in a no-holds-barred death match for pub crawl victory. Dodging eye-contact and the casual conversation starters, we worked our way through the drinks menu and moved on for the next round.
I beelined for the bus, getting a head start over Harry who had stopped to help an elderly gentleman cross the road. What an amateur. Nothing gets in my way of claiming first place. I holla’d at the bus driver to open up the doors and we were off, leaving Harry in the dust. I tried striking up some small talk with the driver, who was not at all amused with my demeanor. I did learn that my bus ride was going to take around 40 minutes, 20 minutes longer than Harry’s. I was devastated. The taste of pub crawl victory had left my lips and was replaced with the lingering taste of spoilt liquor. All I could do now was sit in silence, hoping that Harry’s journey would be thwarted in some way.
I arrived at South Campus sober. While stepping off the bus and thanking the driver, I furiously Google searched for the nearest pub/liquor store/bar and bistro. The closest drink appeared to be at a place naturally titled The Pub. Very original. So, off I went on a wander down Great South Road to my final destination.
Got to The Pub, with the ID out. Asked for a drink. Was told to leave. Went to the nearest liquor store and had a drink on the street. My quest was complete! I rang Harry to see if he had made it to his destination yet…
Game day. I’d prepared by pregaming a bottle of chardonnay and dressing in my finest North Shore shoes. These Hallenstein bad boys worked a treat back in 2016. I didn’t even need a fake ID back then. Loaded and ready to go, I met with Lou at the uni’s only well-known watering-hole; Vesbar. Highly underrated with drinks cheaper than shads (and a lot less saliva in their draught mix). Our mission was to scull round after round before ascending on our tour of Auckland. I thought I’d sneak a couple of Heinies in my back pocket and maybe offer one to the bus driver if he seemed friendly enough. After dodging other students left right and centre, we each grabbed an undercooked chicken pattie from the AUTSA BBQ and took to our positions.
Some old dude tripped while crossing the road so I helped him up back up. He gave me a tip that if I took the NX1 rather than the uni bus I’d get there ten minutes ahead of time. This was my chance to get ahead of Lou and be crowned the true champion of pub crawls. Heeding his advice, I discarded my free bus ticket and hopped on my sneaky ride to victory.
Realised I’d taken the wrong bus. Curse you old man! My mistrust of old people had now been confirmed. How could I possibly get myself back in the game and come out on top? When catching the North Campus shuttle from the city to AUT North, the worst of the traffic is just before reaching the Harbour Bridge. Once past Fanshaw St, traffic was less congested and it would’ve taken less than ten minutes to reach the North Campus. I knew I was somewhere north, so a bar couldn’t be too far from here. My plan was to find North Campus ASAP while guzzling on a couple of brews I’d cheekily prepared earlier.
Once I’d arrived at North Campus I scouted out the nearest bar. Turns out it would be a 17-minute walk to The Backyard Bar which is just off Smales farm. I could make it in 12. If I was to advise anyone making the trip from the City Campus to The Backyard, I would recommend catching the Northern Express Bus straight to Smales Farm station, rather than the shuttle which doesn't take you as far. But don’t listen to me. I was half cut and had gotten myself lost.
After walking for some time I finally made it to the bar - a place fit for a variety of occasions: a quiet drink, a birthday celebration, a concert, even a pool party perhaps? A great place for the kids! There’s even a hotel in the same vicinity if you want to make a holiday out of it. I got a phone call from Louis, confirming our locations and the crawl was over. More or less a tie.
Louis and I debriefed on the phone about what we had learned from this experience, if anything. It had been a day of bonding, comradery and illegal alcohol consumption in public. But most of all, we believe we’ve both cemented the legacy that students, no matter how near or how far, can always sniff out an accommodating location to have a cold one.