13 October, 2013 – Auckland, New Zealand
Adrenaline is your friend when you’re on vacation. At least, if your vacations are anything like mine!
I left the hotel around 6 am and walked the few blocks to the waterfront in time for sunrise. I probably didn’t pick the best spot for sunrise viewing and photos but I had only been in the country for less than twelve hours and while I had asked the guy at the hotel for the weather for the coming day, and he was happy to look it up for me, he didn’t really seem like the photography type. Also, I was tired and just wanted to get to bed! I did the bare minimum of ‘hotel room set-up’ (especially as I would only be there for two nights), got my day bag and camera equipment ready for the next day and went right to sleep.
I ended up down at the ferry terminal with a couple of other photographers. The buildings in the area were quite interesting and there were ‘benches’ on the wharf that were shaped like lounge chairs and reminded me more of an art installation. Sitting there for the 45 minutes or hour I was there was a nice, relaxing start to my vacation. I was able to sort of decompress from the journey and do that “I’m here!” reaction, which I hadn’t taken the time to do the night before. Of course, there was nothing particularly ‘kiwi’ about the spot I was in, and it was chilly, but it was still and nice spot and I was excited to see where the day would take me.
With those thoughts in mind, and sun risen, I headed off to start my day. I had this one day to see and do as much in Auckland as possible as I would be leaving first thing in the morning. The plan had been to take a bus from the wharf to the furthest point on the map I had planned to see but as I was leaving the wharf, I decided to just walk. It would be about a 45 minute walk which I was just fine with and, with waiting for busses, probably wouldn’t have been that much longer anyway. Also, I was hungry and decided to stop at the first place I found to have breakfast. That turned out to be Mcdonald’s, which I passed on.
As it was early on a Sunday morning, it took about half an hour until I found an appropriate spot – Mozaik in Parnell, which is part of a chain of coffee shops. The cafe was large but somehow still felt cozy. The staff was friendly. I felt like I could have sat there all day but I couldn’t do that and left right after I finished my pot of tea. (Love about New Zealand: pay almost the same as you would here for a cup of tea, but get a whole pot!)
My first stop on this little trek was a pair of churches that I thought were architecturally interesting on my Google Street view and other research – Holy Trinity Cathedral and St. Mary’s Church. I thankfully arrived before churchgoers did.
Next Stop: the top of Auckland Domain. This is a beautifully landscaped park with a museum and war memorial at its peak and a wonderful view of the city. This was also the ‘peak’ of my walk through Auckland – it was all down hill from there, literally. I walked through to the other side of the park and then made my way back through the city to the waterfront, catching a few landmarks on the way. On each big trip I go on, I seems to have a ‘thing’ whether that conscious or not; whether that’s because I’m in that kind of ‘mood’ or the trip just lends itself to it. This trip it was theatres and bridges, so I made sure to check out as many interesting ones as I could. Places like Grafton Bridge, the Mercury Theatre. One observation I noticed right away were all the shopping arcades as well as overhangs along commercial blocks. Very nice for us pedestrians! I wish there were more of those around here.
I made it back to the waterfront around late afternoon, this time at Viaduct Harbour, clearly the more cultural and interesting part of the waterfront. There were various art installations, a whole block of pubs and restaurants, a look out and more. There was also a marina with a small draw bridge connecting this part of the waterfront to the end I had been on at the beginning of the day. New Zealand seems to make good use of used shipping containers – there was a bunch stacked for an outdoor Nikon Photography exhibition, a small one used as a little library and more. In Christchurch, still recovering from a 2010 earthquake, containers were used to create coffee shops and even an entire mall. I think they should be used more everywhere!
Something I wasn’t expecting to see: A couple of Chinese Military Naval ships. Of course I photographed them. they were even letting people go on board one of them and look around. I thought about it – how many times can someone say they’ve done that? Except, you know, a Chinese Naval guy. They were just closing up as I arrived though. D’oh!
I completed the circle for the day around supper time and I was starving! I wandered around the downtown area for about another hour or so taking in the city for the last time, confirming things about my departure tomorrow, but also looking for a place to eat. Nothing really caught my eye. I decided to go back to the restaurant strip near the Marina and ate at the Jack Tar pub. It was a bit chilly out (which I was probably feeling more because I was tired) so I sat inside, but near the window. It was a great view and great for people watching. It had nice atmosphere and staff and the food was great and I had my first ‘local’ish beer – James Squier Amber, on recommendation from the staff. I had been hoping to try something from New Zealand, and as local as possible, but this was Australian, and still good. Definitely above average. The free WiFi was also much appreciated to catch up on things – and research my beer! I enjoyed it, and I would recommend it, but it wouldn’t be a ‘must return’ if I’m ever back in the city.
And that was Auckland. I went back to the hotel and bed right after dinner, as I had to pack up and had another early morning the next day.
Impressions: I don’t know, not very Kiwi. Aside from the pub staff I don’t think I was served by anyone native to the country. The staff at the hotel were Indian and everyone else was Asian. I almost felt like I didn’t need to visit Japan now. None of that’s a problem of course, just an observation. It was a nice place, but it just felt like every other English-speaking city. I wouldn’t bother going back.
Daily Casualties: None! :)
Walked: About 13 miles
The Rest of the story:
Aurora Announces her trip!
Aurora’s Australian Pre-planning
Working with a Travel Agent
My Trip Down Under:
– Day 123 – The Journey
– Day 4 – Auckland
– Day 5 – North Island Culture
– Day 6 – Rotorua
– Day 7 – Wellington
– Day 8 – Wellington
– Day 9 & 10 – South Island Scenery
– Day 11 – Queenstown
– Day 12 – Middle Earth
– Day 13 – The Last Day
– Day 14 – Great Barrier Reef
– Day 15 – Alice Springs
– Day 16, 17 & 18 – The Outback
– Day 19, 20 and 21 – Melbourne and the Great Ocean Road
– Days 22 to 25 – Sydney and the End
Down Under Assignments