For those of you who don’t know, I have previously spent quite a lot of time in Auckland. Well, relatively quite a lot of time considering Auckland is on the other side of the world from where I live. In 2004, as a shy and naive 19 year old, I spent 3 months in New Zealand on a working holiday visa. During that time I spent around 3 weeks in Auckland working in a call centre in Takapuna on the North Shore. It was for an outbound telemarketing company and it was just as awful as it sounds. I also seem to remember having a sore throat and croaky voice for most of the time I worked there…fond memories 😁
Anyway, the job was in the evenings so it gave me plenty of time during the day to explore what Auckland had to offer. I took the ferry to Devonport, went up the Sky Tower, took a tour of Auckland and walked up Mount Eden, went to the city suburbs of Ponsonby and Parnell, and walked miles and miles up and down Queen Street and around the harbour.
Having taken a holiday in NZ 15 months ago which also involved a stop in Auckland, you might have thought there was not a lot else for me to see in Auckland. Well, having decided to spend 5 nights here chilling after a hectic 5 weeks hot-footing it around Hong Kong, Australia and Fiji, I was keen to see things I’ve not seen before.
It also gave a great view back over downtown Auckland, and you can certainly see how it got its nickname – the city of sails:
The next day I went to Waiheke Island, an island in the Hauraki Gulf, about 40 minutes by ferry from downtown Auckland. In 2004 I didn’t have the money, and in 2014 I didn’t have the time to go to Waiheke, but now, fortunately, I had both. Waiheke Island is famous for producing wine as it has a microclimate which is much warmer and drier than Auckland and the surrounding mainland. I had booked myself on a ‘Taste of Waiheke’ tour which included visits to 3 vineyards (all with wine tasting, 1 with lunch and 1 with beer tasting) and an olive grove. We also saw some of the beautiful scenery on the island:
The next couple of days I decided to try and be cultured. I went to the Auckland Art Gallery one day and to the War Memorial Museum the next day. As much as I try, I still struggle to appreciate art. I think I could produce some of the stuff in there, and I haven’t picked up a paintbrush in anger in 15+ years.
The War Memorial Museum wasn’t just about war. It contained, among other things, a fascinating exhibit about volcanoes. I love plate tectonics, volcanoes and geological activity, and if I’d have done a degree in something I was interested in rather than something useful for my career, it would have been something down the geographical/geological line. I spent over 3 hours at the museum and thoroughly enjoyed it.
I also found time for a cinema trip, which was another feature of my travels here in 2004. I very rarely go to the cinema back home, so I actually quite enjoy going whilst abroad as it isn’t something I normally do. I went to watch The Big Short, which is about a group of traders who bet against the US economy during the financial crisis. Certainly an interesting story, and timely given what seems to be happening to stock markets at the moment (yes, I am keeping an eye on things, can’t completely switch off…if someone can tell me why Lloyds shares are tanking, I’m all ears!).
As I write this from Paihia, I will be back in Auckland in a few days on my way to Coromandel and further south. My NZ trip will finish up in Auckland in May, so I will be back again. I’m sure there are still more things for me to discover in AKL.