Auckland is built on a volcanic bed consisting of about fifty volcanoes. Each is considered extinct though the field as a whole is merely dormant. There have been 90 eruptions in the last 90,000 years.
It is located on an isthmus which is just 2 km wide at its narrowest. There are two harbours: the northern one takes you to the Pacific Ocean and the other takes you to the Tasman Sea.
It is home to one third of New Zealand’s total population and everyone has very strong thighs. It’s a very hilly city and some of the hills are quite steep. We know: it feels like we’ve climbed most of them during the last couple of days.
We had breakfast courtesy of Joanna and Ian, while we all chatted, and so Liesel and I left the house on both days a little later then planned.
Two days, two Museums, fourteen miles walking in Auckland, two decent eating places, many fantastic views, zero bungee jumps and Christmas music seeping out of some shops.
Our wanderings took us along some busy roads, so we were glad of the opportunity to take a ‘short cut’ through Myer’s Park. It’s a cute littel patch of green, with a fab children’s playground, and we were entertained by a man playing his piano-accordion.
Our destination was Auckland Domain, one of the bigger parks in the city and we couldn’t beliece how green Auckland is. Yes, there are plenty of high-rise buildings but there are green patches and trees in between, totally different to Tokyo.
We happened to pass by the art gallery and it just happened to have a café and we went in by mistake and had a coffee.
We sat outside, but under cover. It was warm and the sky was blue except for over there where it looked like a big black storm was brewing.
We walked through Albert Park, where the sculpture that I thought might be a sundial turned out not to be. I couldn’t find a plaque so I can’t say what it really is.
We said hello to Queen Victoria and I made a short speech from the podium at Speakers’ Corner.
Auckland Domain was hilly too, so it was only fair to test-sit many of the park benches.
The trees were fascinating, multiple trunks in many cases; the paths were very well maintained. And as if that’s not enough, there were some really interesting sculptures too.
At the top of the hill is located the Auckland War Memorial Museum. The views from the top are wonderful, a fine reward for all the effort. The Museum is very interesting but very moving too. There’s the history of the Maori settlers, the arrival of white Europeans with their Christianity and firearms as often seems to be the case.
There is a butterfly collection which is very pretty, but it feels a bit wrong to collect that many specimens.
As it’s a War Memorial, there are stories of all the conflicts that New Zealanders have been involved with, usually for the sake of the mother country. There are two Halls of Memory listing all Aucklanders lost in battle. And if that’s not enough, there is this:
We walked home and when we were caught in the rain, we took shelter in the bandstand for a few moments.
The Maritime Museum is down by the harbour so we knew this day’s walk wouldn’t be as long.
I couldn’t resist the temptation to have a go on one of the electric scooters operated by a company called Lime.
Liesel wasn’t too keen and I didn’t go too far as I didn’t have a helmet but some other people were going by at very high speed.
In the museum, I chose to join the guided tour at 1.30pm. Liesel sat and read her book while Tony took me and all the others around for two hours. All the others? There were none. I had my own personal guide, and he explained everything, from how the Maoris arrived here in the first place, right up to Sir Peter Blake winning the America’s Cup for NZ in 1995.
On the way back home, we were very nearly tempted by this pub:
But really, this is my new favourite venue, and there is no prizes for telling me why:
This was a surprise too: Tony had mentioned the Rainbow Warrior in the museum earlier, but we didn’t know about this memorial:
It was a short stay in Auckland, but we’ll be back very soon.
Our flight to Christchurch was short and sweet and again, we had seats a row apart.
It was good to be by the window, not above the wing, and I enjoyed the bird’s-eye view of Hagley Park.
We’re in Christchurch with my sister Pauline and her partner Andrew. We’ll be here for Christmas and until we get kicked out.
It’s our first visit here since the catastrophic earthquakes. Pauline’s house was finally re-built last year, after waiting six years.