Days 35 & 36: Auckland, NZ. Though Auckland offers all the cultural, dining and shopping amenities one would expect from New Zealand's largest city, it manages to retain a friendly and relaxed, small-town atmosphere. Before diving into the city proper, we decided on Tuesday to explore its surroundings. We set out on the scenic drive through the Waitakere Ranges, a chain of hills along the coast northwest of Auckland. Formed by ancient volcanic activity, the ranges are covered in lush native forests and crisscrossed by hundreds of miles of walking trails.
|Lion Rock (use your imagination!) in Piha|
At a scenic overlook, where we paused for lunch, we chatted with six young twenty-somethings on vacation from China. When we expressed an interest in visiting their country, they were quick to warn us about China's severe problems with pollution, though one patriotic young man asserted that air quality there was improving.
|Pedestrian bridge over SH-1 offers great view of Auckland skyline and Westhaven Marina.|
By Wednesday morning, we had dreamed up the perfect spot for our letterbox, on a path near the SH-1 overpass, just across the street from Point Erin Park. Like Victoria Park across the street from our apartment, Point Erin was active with numerous groups engaged in various forms of exercise, from yoga to rugby and cricket, basketball, skating and even juggling. Aucklanders clearly like to stay fit.
|Auckland Art Gallery|
|Tiny patrons of the arts at AAG|
|Creative AAG signage|
Adjacent to the gallery is Albert Park, occupying an area which once housed Albert Barracks, an early European military fortification. Converted to a park in the 1880s, the space is home to some enormous specimen trees, including several Moreton Bay figs and an ombu tree.
|Some of Albert Park's stately Moreton Bay fig trees|
|Auckland War Memorial Museum|
Leaving the museum in late afternoon, we got a taste of Auckland's rush hour traffic, as we drove five miles out Broadway, through a very busy retail and commercial district, to the aiport. We were checking in at an airport hotel in preparation for our early flight to Honolulu tomorrow morning, planning to return our rental car this evening and find transportation back to the hotel and catch the shuttle to the airport.
|View from our hotel room|
- Started & ended in Auckland
- Mileage - 111 (Trip to date: 15,832)
- Weather - 41° to 56°, sunny to overcast
TUESDAY, 7 OCTOBER, & WEDNESDAY, 8 OCTOBER, 2014
More Photos from Auckland
|Exquisite kauri timber ceiling at Auckland Art Gallery|
|Long winding bench on Art Gallery sculpture terrace, commissioned for the gallery's reopening|
|Massive windows blur the line from interior to exterior at Auckland Art Gallery.|
|Ground level salons in the historic AAG building|
|Interactive Lego installation attracted many patrons, young and not so young. (AAG)|
|Decorative headrest from Papua New Guinea helped protect elaborate hair styles as the owner slept. (AWMM)|
|Main museum entrance|
|Bird's eye view of ticket desk (AWMM)|
|Maori pataka (storehouse) at AWMM|
|Supermarine Spitfire, a British warplane donated by the RAF in appreciation for New Zealand assistance in WWII (AWMM)|
|World War II Hall of Memories|
|A Kiwi postie (mail carrier). Most ride bicycles, rather than motorbikes as in Australia.|