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New Zealand North: Auckland

Our Trip to New Zealand- North Island 24th- 31st January 2016

Sunday 24th January Welcome to Auckland City

After leaving the cold UK at 8.30pm and arriving in a dark Hong Kong at 9pm (local time), it was a pleasant relief to fly over a sunny looking North Island and land in the daylight at Auckland. “Uncle” met us, gave us our itinerary and maps, then drove us to our hotel (Waldorf Stadium Apartments IMG_1801.jpg
Hotel, Quay Park Waterfront) and it was still sunny and light (2pm). The hotel was apartment style, which turned out to be quite typical on our trip around NZ, with separate bedroom, laundry area and kitchenette. We strolled down to the Viaduct Harbour and had a pleasant beer upstairs on the balcony overlooking the harbour at the Snapdragon bar-restaurant. Viaduct Harbour was a marina for smaller vessels, some very plush- it’s been said that there are more boats than people in Auckland! A lovely old oak schooner was moored there- the Arcturus. Built in Maine in 1930, she is one of only nine boats from the John Alden 390 series. General George Patton and his wife sailed the yacht to Hawaii where he was stationed. At a later date he sailed her back to the west coast when war seemed imminent. After an active life cruising the Pacific, it was time for Arcturus to have an overhaul and refit in New Zealand.

IMG_3195.JPGAuckland is New Zealand's largest city, situated on a narrow neck of land between Manukau Harbour and Waitemata Harbour. Each suburb has its own atmosphere, from fashion and cuisine on Ponsonby Road to native bush and beaches of the West Coast. The creation of Auckland’s unique landscape is part of an ancient love story. A battle between two iwi (tribes) created deep cracks in the earth, thrusting up the volcanic cones scattered across the region. Fertile soil and resources of Waitemata and Manukau harbours have drawn people to this region for centuries. Once hundreds of canoes could be seen in Auckland’s harbours, giving the name Tāmaki Herenga Waka (gathering of canoes). Today the waters are sprinkled with hundreds of boats and Auckland is referred to as the ‘City of Sails’. From the first Māori waka (canoes) and colonial ships, Auckland has attracted settlers. One of the earliest Europeans was John Logan Campbell. He and a fellow Scot, William Brown, pitched their tent at Commercial Bay and founded Brown & Campbell. From early on government officials and other settlers were separate. The officials located their houses on a ridge overlooking Official Bay to the west of Commercial Bay. That it was colloquially referred to as Exclusion Bay shows the low regard in which government officials were held. The next bay was Mechanics Bay, named after the carpenters and tradesmen there. Soon after founding the town, the government divided the land up for sale. This attracted land jobbers from all over New Zealand and Australia. Demand outstripped supply and record prices were reached. At an average of £600/acre (as much as London), it outstripped Governor Sir William Hobson's aim of £100/acre. There were 800 buyers for 119 allotments. Some bought, subdivided, and resold for profit in the same day. By the 1890s, the city had a cosmopolitan flavour, with dozens of languages in bustling streets. This continued through the 20th century, particularly the 1950s immigrants from Hungary, Holland and Yugoslavia. Many rural people relocated to seek work in the city, and large numbers of rural Māori migrated to Auckland, followed by migrant workers from the Pacific Islands, peaking in the 1960s. Today Aucklanders come from all over the world; 56% European, 11% Maori, 13% Pacific Island, 12% Asian.
IMG_6315.JPG Boat Rock at sunset
The legend of Tāmaki Makaurau
Long ago, the land between the Hunua and Waitakere Ranges was flat. Tāmaki Makaurau is the Māori name for Auckland. The people living in this land were the Patupaiarehe, a fairy people. One iwi (tribe) lived in Waitakere forest on Auckland's west coast, and another in Hunua forest in the south. They generally kept out of each other's way but on moonless nights the teenagers would race silently to the other iwi area, returning with a token. One night Hui, son of Chief Waitakere, returned empty handed and his friends teased him. The next night, Hui did not return with the others. When the rangatira (chief) Waitakere found his son missing, he summoned a great war party. Just as they were about to start their war chant, they saw two figures running towards them. It was Hui, holding the hand of a beautiful young woman. "This is my love," he said. She was Wairere, the daughter of Chief Hunua. Hunua was furious when he found her missing, and even more when he discovered she was with Hui. A war party gathered and set off across the plain to reclaim Wairere. But Waitakere saw them coming. As they approached, the tohunga (high priest) of Waitakere reached into the earth and took some of its hidden magic, mixing it into a deadly spell and cast it at the Hunua. Some fell, but the rest marched on. Again, the tohunga reached into the earth and threw spells at the advancing party. This time, the Hunua fell to the ground dead. Suddenly, the ground heaved, a chasm opened and huge rocks were flung into the air by the wrath of Mataaho, guardian of the Earth's secrets. He was furious with the tohunga for using earth magic without permission. He woke his brother Ruaumoko, atua (god) of earthquakes and volcanoes, and their combined anger opened a hole in the Earth. The tohunga tumbled into the hole and Mataaho melted him so he became part of the magic he had stolen. The rest of the Waitakere fled, but they could not run from the rage of Mataaho and Ruaumoko who hid the sun with thick clouds of smoke and threw rocks into the air, melting them before they touched the ground. Years later, two last two Patupaiarehe sat on a hill overlooking the Tamaki volcanic field; Wairere and Hui. They have since passed to the underworld, but their folly can still be seen in the volcanoes of Tamaki.

We followed with a short stroll around the Viaduct Harbour before checking in for our Auckland Harbour sailing cruise with dinner at 5:45pm. This was run by Explore Group/ Snapdragon Restaurant from their berth at Viaduct Harbour (a small boat berthing just off Auckland Harbour and entered by a swing bridge). Along with us was a large Indian family celebrating a birthday. The sailing cruise started by leaving Viaduct Harbour at 6 pm under the raised Viaduct Bridge, which is always manned (apparently it pre dates the road, so has to be lifted by demand, though luckily only small vessels shelter here). We sailed along the waterfront apartments (very nice looking, but apparently their piles are sinking) around the corner to Hobson Harbour where the National Maritime Museum keeps its sea vessels- the scow Ted Ashby, the wooden 19th C sailing vessel Breeze, a small steamboat SS Puke and a replica Maori sea canoe (wara). http://www.maritimemuseum.co.nz Behind them we could see Auckland’s only high tower- the Sky Tower. The Sky Tower is an observation and telecommunications tower located on the corner of Victoria and Federal Streets in the Auckland CBD, Auckland City. Built in 1997, it is 328 metres tall, from ground level to the top of the mast, making it the tallest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere. It has become an iconic landmark in Auckland's skyline due to its height and unique design.
The cruise then took us out into the harbour itself and towards the Auckland Harbour Bridge, which we passed under. Harbour Bridge, built 1959, copies the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge but has itself become a symbol of Auckland. It was tolled until 1984 when the construction costs had been repaid. This part of NZ is the thinnest as the Pacific comes right in to Auckland Harbour on the right and the Tasman Sea right up on the left, leaving a small spit of land between and just below the city centre, along Portage Road it's a mere 1km between the inlet of the Pacific to the Tasman. Unless it silts up you can see NZ becoming 3 islands in the future! From here we could see from the harbour out to sea and the large islands of Rangitoto and Motutapu (and the smaller islands of Rakino and Motuihe beyond). Rangitoto Island is a volcanic island, an iconic, easily visible landmark of Auckland with its distinctive symmetrical shield volcano cone rising 260 metres high over the Hauraki Gulf. Rangitoto is the most recent (700 years ago) and the largest of 50 volcanoes of the Auckland volcanic field. It is separated from the mainland of Auckland by the Rangitoto Channel. Since WWII it has been linked by a causeway to the much older, non-volcanic Motutapu Island. Rangitoto is Māori for 'Bloody Sky', (from Ngā Rangi-i-totongia-a Tama-te-kapua: The days of the bleeding of Tama-te-kapua). Tama-te-kapua was the captain of the Arawa waka (canoe) who was badly wounded on the island, battling the Tainui iwi (tribe). Both islands have been made pest free and native species like kiwis reintroduced.

We headed into the harbour, away from the sea, passing Chelsea Sugar Factory/ Refinery (the main sugar factory in NZ) pic 1 below, http://www.chelsea.co.nz/our-story/ and its wharf. Estab 1882, more than 130 years later, the refinery still operates from its original site. The New Zealand Sugar Company is now one of New Zealand’s top 100 companies and Chelsea Sugar has become one of New Zealand’s most beloved and iconic brands. On our left was the posh South Shore suburb of Ponsonby and to the right we then passed the area of Chelsea, an empty area with pretty wooded coves (Kauri Point), small beaches (Kendall Bay pic 2 below) and moorings (Kauri Point Wharf pic 3 below). At the end of the harbour, close to the large Boat Rock, we stopped and had dinner- salmon blinis and chicken salad with bubbles. The sun was super, warming without being too hot and a warm breeze. Then as it turned to pre-dusk (8pm) we headed back with a nice pudding (Steve had pavlova- had no idea this was a bone of contention between Aussies and Kiwis as to the inventor; personally always thought it was Australia but turns out best not to suggest this in NZ). We started back, past the rocks of Waitemata Harbour and Watchman Island. As we passed under the Harbour Bridge the sunset over the harbour was beautiful and by the time we reached the Viaduct Bridge it was def dusk+. We walked back past the cruise ships (HUGE) and the early 20th C Ferry Building. The Auckland Ferry Terminal, sometimes called the Downtown Ferry Terminal, is the hub of the Auckland ferry network that connects Auckland City with North Shore City and some locations in Waitakere City and Manukau City. Opened in 1912 its architectural style is Edwardian Baroque. We tried the Britomart supermarket, as water and snacks for tomorrow would be useful, but gave up when we saw the queue to pay. The long travel had finally caught up with us, so we got to bed around 10pm local time, which was pretty good going!

Posted by PetersF 12:17 Archived in New Zealand Tagged auckland sunset harbour cruise island north

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