Wellington is the New Zealand capital, but Auckland, the largest city, serves as the main point of entry or departure for most international visitors. Known as the “City of Sails”, it was the national capital until 1865, when Wellington was chosen because of its more central geographic location. It’s located on the North Island, and is home to over one quarter of the country’s people.
Located on the isthmus of the North Island, between Waitemata Harbour to the northeast and Manukau Harbour to the southwest, makes it the perfect habitat for anyone with a love for
water. Within an hours drive from the city, you’ll find 102 beaches for swimming, surfing, waterskiing or sail boarding. There are over 70,000 powerboats or sailing craft, that’s an average of one per every four households. There’s a ton to see and do in Auckland. The Civic Theater, and art nouveau theater that opened in 1929 and was used for cabaret shows for servicemen in transit to battlefields in the Pacific; the War Memorial Museum and the Museum of Transport and Technology; Albert Park, is a 15 acre parcel of formal gardens, fountains and statues; there’s also a 340 acre park that is a favourite leisure space for Aucklanders. The streets are filled with pedestrians, cyclists and joggers. Like most New Zealanders, Aucklanders like the outdoors. They are leaders in the world movement for ecological preservation and have long been concerned with recycling, weaning themselves from fossil fuels and preserving nature. Perhaps island living makes it all seem more urgent. The people are very friendly and outgoing and always willing to help when we got lost or even when we aren’t lost.
Gerrit and I have been looking forward to meeting up with our good friends Wally and Jean from Whangarei (North Island). If you remember (you can see the blog on RH side of page), we had an awesome time with Jean and Wally in 2009 when stayed with them before our Asia Pacific voyage (2 months).
We meet up outside the port building and we’re off to have coffee. Afterwards we decide to take the ferry to Devonport, it’s about a 12 minute ferry ride from the ferry terminal, which is right beside the cruise ship terminal. We’ve heard that there’s a wool shop over there and besides its just a lovely place to visit. I purchased some amazing Super Fine Kid Mohair Merino Wool and at the same time a wonderful pattern for a wrap/scarf for our good friend Kelly (she’s looking after our cats – hope she doesn’t read this!) The wool in New Zealand is just incredible, we’d never be able to find something this truly luxurious in Toronto. Plus I’d be paying over $60 for a skein of 50 grams. The stores are all open even though its a Sunday and it also happens to be a national holiday in New Zealand, celebrating their history along with the Maori’s.
After lunch and our return journey back to Auckland we say good bye to Jean and Wally, knowing we’ll see then on Tuesday in Tauranga. They have a 3.5 hour journey ahead of them and want to get out of the city before any traffic jams appear. So Gerrit and I head back to the ship to drop our purchases and decide on what to do for supper.
We end up having supper at a little restaurant in the harbour called “Y-Not” on Princes Wharf. It’s a sort of Italian fusion place and the food is great. I have a pasta dish with a white cream sauce while Gerrit has a pasta dish with lemon grass and ginger sauce along with awesome scallops that still have their ‘stomach’ attached– it was just amazing. We have a really good walk around the town, feeling the energy of the city along with the mass of people who are out for the night. This is just one amazing city and we’re here for 2 days – hooray!!
Day 2 – Auckland, New Zealand.
We’ve elected to take no official ship tours today. We want to explore the city and end up at Albert Gardens. It’s an amazing place originally building as a fortification against Maori attack. The public garden was set up as Albert Barracks in the mid 19th century and during WWII the land was redesigned as public air-raid shelter. Now a public garden, the landscaped 15 acre park is home to Auckland University and the New Gallery. It’s wonderful to see students sitting on the grass with and without professors having study time. The fountains are amazing and Gerrit is able to get some incredible photos of the area. We’ve purchased some tea and sit for a while and just people watch and enjoy the sights.
The building architecture is just lovely here. We are able to view some interesting building styles and look at some beautiful old buildings. Walking around Auckland is very safe and again the people are so friendly. I also locate a wool store in a plaza, where I buy some lovely lace and sock yarn. My hands will never be without something to knit.
For the next week we have a port visit every day, so our blog will be slow as we’re usually exhausted when we get back to the ship each day.