Auckland – City of Sails…
Our two days in Auckland have passed in a blur and once again we have packed in the experiences. Although from the waterfront it doesn’t look a hilly sort of a place, my hotel choices on both the occasions I have stayed here have involved a fair amount of walking uphill. The ‘down dales’ merely give you a brief respite before you head upwards again. That said, the Grand Hotel Millennium has been a lovely base.
Of course, our first day began with the disembarkation from the ship. Why on earth do they now refer to it as to debark? Shorthand or dog training? Whatever, we picked up our luggage and joined the queue for taxis to find controllers efficiently sorting out both the cabs and the passengers. I have to say we are all fit and able enough to manage our cases but long distance cruising can be a real test for the less able, even with wheelchair help. So, quickly checked in at the hotel, luggage parked and in no time at all we were off. Not a tram this time but the hop-on-hop-off bus. It just gives you a perspective of a city and allows for further exploration.
Our tickets also included a return journey to Devonport, the pretty little port across the bay. We sailed past the Noordam and waved our fond farewells but chuckled when we came back to see all the new passengers out on deck and all lined up for the ‘muster drill’. Sunday afternoon and the bay was full of sail boats (hence the name City of Sails). We had lunch at a pavement cafe and marvelled that not only were shops open but the library too. What a good idea and supporting the families who were making good use of the facilities when Mum and Dad could take their children together. Walking back to the hotel took some 20 minutes, by which time it was definitely beer o’clock, time for relaxing and also for planning the schedule for the following day.
Monday was really about Ann having a chance to find out about her Aunt and Uncle who lived here until they passed away in the 1960s. Anyway this is Ann’s story and I was happy she was able to go and explore the past.
Once back from ‘doing our own thing’ we were off to the Sky Tower. I had done this on my previous visit so knew I was not young enough or insured enough to participate in the base jump from top to bottom. Shame. Never mind, it was fun to watch and the views were fabulous.
I wrote on Facebook about my unusual encounter with a lady I had met for a day 5 years ago when I last visited. As I got into the lift at Sky Tower, I just knew, without a doubt, that I had met the lift operator before. I had also just finished writing my blog about our recent trip to Rotorua and comparing it very unfavourably with my previous unforgettable similar tour. The lady in the lift was none other than Sally, the narrator half of the fabulous duo, Mike and Sally, who had driven and chatted to a spell-bound audience throughout that first trip. Wow! Small world.
So what now? This evening we fly to Hawaii for 3 days before making the long journey home. This is a story in itself because we fly out about 9 pm on 20 February and travel for about 8 or 9 hours. We arrive in Honolulu at 06.30 on 20 February so get to enjoy the day all over again, courtesy of crossing the International Date Line. I finally get back the day I lost going the other way a few years ago. Wooohooo!
Carolyn’s Curios & Curiosities
Auckland… contains a third of New Zealand’s population (1.5 million out of 4.5 million) and 48 (yes, forty-eight) volcanoes. As well as City of Sails, it is also known as City of Volcanoes. The most recent massive eruption created an island in the bay only 600 years ago. As I write, a cyclone is hitting the islands but we are north of the path, fortunately. Enough about the weather other than to say it’s warm/hot with occasional light showers but, now, the wind is building up.
The coffee stops have been worthwhile, the beers cool, the food delicious and the hotel clean, comfortable and convenient. We’ve toured the city by bus. Walked more than my little legs are used to and seen the sights we were looking forward to seeing. The views from Sky Tower, even on a relatively dull day, were worth the Lift journey to the top. Kath meeting up, serendipitously, with a tour guide from the past was the proverbial cherry on the cake especially after the disappointments of the Rotorua trip. Sally was flattered when we recounted that the comparison with her quality was the basis of our complaint to the cruise company. Whereas, I only found another equilateral curve triangle… Nice stool, though
The roads in the city are often dual carriageways which are so wide that even the flashing green man with a countdown barely gives you enough time to reach the other side. Building work abounds and, whereas in Christchurch the reason was to rebuild after an earthquake, here it is modernisation and growth.
Asian and Polynesian influence is apparent everywhere with a particular Chinese influence obvious from shops, New Year signs and tourists. The multi-ethnic and multi-cultural mix seems to work well in New Zealand possible because it has learned to embrace not merely tolerate its Maori heritage. In 2016. It was declared that Auckland was more culturally diverse than either New York or London.
Today, we had a slow start whilst packing for a flight to Hawaii. Getting on and off the cruise ship had no weight restrictions – airplanes do!
As we leave New Zealand, we contemplate whether we would see this lovely country again. Were it not the other side of the world, we would without doubt. However,…
The comparison with Australia is often made with New Zealand being seen as similar but much smaller. It’s not that similar. The big brother syndrome doesn’t fit. New Zealand people seem different, more laid back etc. We acknowledge that we’ve only seen snapshots of both from this visit and even Kath’s trips here only scratched the surface. What we saw was impressive. Really nice people; some spectacular natural features – flora and fauna; well worth travelling the distance to see it.
Later today, we time travel across the International Date Line and we get Tuesday twice!
In the early 1930s, a young woman left a small Cotswold village, leaving her mother and other members of her family to travel to New Zealand, where she remained until the end of her life, with only two short visits home. Why she left has always been a family mystery. In 2018 her niece, also once from that same Cotswold village, has travelled to Auckland, armed with photographs of her aunt, plus brochures and written accounts from the 1940s and 1950s sent by an uncle she never met. I brought with me the letter inviting me to visit them and saying how much they were looking forward to my visit. It was a journey never made in my early twenties as both Trixie and Bob died before I was able to take up their offer.
Today, I’ve visited the site of their former home in the suburb of Parnell. It is now a hotel but the views over the Parnell Rose Gardens and down to the water are the same as they would have enjoyed. Thanks to helpful advice at the Auckland Public Library, I’ve remembered more about Trixie and Bob, and found out that he died in 1962, aged 66 and Trixie died in 1969, aged 72, both in the town of Taumarunui. Much more remains for me to research, including looking at passenger manifests in an attempt to discover how and when Trixie made the journey to New Zealand.
A very worthwhile morning for me and plenty more to investigate when I’m back home.