After an almost 6 hour flight from Tahiti we arrived in Auckland in the early morning at around 5 am.
Paradoxically our year 2014 will be one day short, with only 364 days! Crossing the International Date Line we skipped a whole day: We left Tahiti on January 3rd and arrived in Auckland on January 5th.
And of course we had a big jetlag, because the time difference between Tahiti and New Zealand is 23 hours 😉
Once we dropped off our luggage at the hostel in the neighborhood of Ponsonby we went to have a big breakfast. Luckily we didn’t get hit by a car on our way to the cafe: We were still getting used to the left-hand traffic. It’s really difficult to re-learn old habits and look to the right instead of the left side…
Andy had some savory bacon, mushrooms, eggs Benedict, tomatoes and potatoes:
Tini went for the healthy and light combination of fruits and yogurt:
After that we were prepared to explore the city. We exchanged our left-over money from Chile and French Polynesia to New Zealand Dollars and strolled around Auckland’s downtown.
In the evening we met up with Björn, a former colleague of Tini from Zurich, who now lives and works in Auckland. We walked around the harbor and talked about the good old times and things that happened since our last meeting.
For dinner we went to a nice restaurant in the Wynyard Quarter close to the harbor. As an aperitif we shared the garlic shrimps:
As a main Andy had duck in plum and apricot sauce on fried rice:
And Tini went for fish with vegetables:
After diner we walked along Viaduct Harbour and admired the many yachts. On the sidewalk we watched a man creating huge soap bubbles before we continued on towards the city center.
Finally we ended up in a bar were we spent the rest of the evening. Here we also tried our very first ginger beer. What a surprise! It was delicious. Though it reminds us less of a beer than a soda pop.
Still we will have to find out where we can get it in Germany or Switzerland!
We enjoyed a great first evening in Auckland: Thank you Björn!
Next morning we started with a healthy and fruity breakfast on the patio of our hostel:
Next item on our agenda was a walking-tour through the city following our guide book. We started with some second hand boutiques on St. Kevin’s Arcade, crossed Myers Park and passed the Auckland Town Hall with Aotea Square, the civic heart of the city:
From there we continued on to the Auckland Art Gallery, which was reopened in 2011 after a $121 million refurbishment. With its glass and wood atrium grafted onto its already impressive French chateau frame the building looks quite impressive:
Among our favorites was this painting “Genoa from the New Terrace” (1862) from the British James Pyne:
And the modern painting from New Zealander Milan Mrkusich (1955) called “City Lights”:
Of course these pictures can not live up to the originals with the large dimension canvasses hanging on the wall.
Also there were some very interesting paintings and a portrait exhibition of ancient Maori faces. However there were no pictures allowed in that exhibition…
From the Art Gallery we continued through Albert Park, a charming Victorian garden hugging the hill on the city’s eastern flank. From up there we had a nice view over the city and passed by some stately Victorian merchant houses which today belong to the Auckland University’s campus:
Continuing on we had a chance for some window-shopping along High Street, Auckland’s main fashion strip:
Later in the afternoon we visited Auckland’s landmark, the Sky Tower, which is the tallest structure in the southern hemisphere with a height of 328 m.
After a 40 seconds lift ride we enjoyed the view over Auckland from the observation decks. From up here we could get a nice overview over Auckland: The two harbors, one on the Tasman Sea side and one on the Pacific Ocean side, the volcanic cones throughout the city and the farmland on the horizon.
On the left side of the picture below you can see the Auckland Harbor Bridge, an eight-lane motorway bridge over the Waitemata Harbor and in front of the bridge the Westhaven Marina which is home to over 2’000 boats:
And being back in an an English speaking country and the home of the Hobbits, we go to the movies and watch: “The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey”. We went for the 3D version, therefore the glasses:
Walking back home in the night we got a different view of the illuminated Sky Tower:
Of course not all our days were this busy. We also spent some relaxing days in Auckland and planned our further trip through NZ. Almost one entire day we spent in a smelly internet cafe, sitting between “World of Warcraft” gamers, trying to catch up with our blog. That too was an experience of its own…