Following my arrival in Auckland, I traveled 10 minutes south to the home of my CouchSurfing host Chris. Chris, a 38-year-old computer programmer and self-acclaimed geek, was most fun and welcoming. This would be my home for the next three nights until I flew to Dunedin on the south island to connect with my friends. Following a restful morning, I took a train into Auckland proper to explore the city. With a population of around one million, Auckland contains roughly 25% of New Zealand’s sparse population.
Now I have recently returned from six months in Latin America, a journey that has taken me from the jungles of Guatemala to the Andes of Peru. I absolutely am in love with the people and culture of Latin America.
However, as I emerged from the subterranean station, I was immediately struck by some of the differences in these cultures. Of course, I understood the language, although the accent will take some acclimatization. Everything is sparkling clean and very green. There is absolutely no litter. No buses belch diesel fumes. And of course, every one drives on the left!
For two hours or so, I walked around the skyscrapers, checked out a couple camera shops and had an espresso. Then I decided to take a ferry to one of the many nearby islands. Auckland is on a narrow isthmus that separates the Pacific Ocean from the Tasman Sea. It boasts two harbors, one for each oceans. My first choice was Rangitoto, a volcanic island, sacred in Māori mythology, where I hoped to spend the afternoon hiking. Unfortunately I missed the 12:15 and last sailing of the ferry. Instead, I caught a ferry to Devonport.
Devonport is a pretty historical town with a British feel to it. During WWII, certain that the Japanese might strike at any time, a gun bunker was built at the top of its modest volcanic cone…ah, a hiking goal.
I am guessing that these mushroom-like objects dotting the summit were part of the bunkers ventilation. Anybody know? If so, please leave a comment.
Descending into the village, I shot again, this time with the 50-200mm lens with 2X teleconverter (400mm effective focal length).
Taking the ferry back I decided to find the Sky Tower, that’s the tallest object above, and check it out. It was not hard to find.
Well, they wanted $30.00 to ride to the top which I thought was a huge ripoff…pass.
I thought the casino bar was cool so I took a few shots before leaving.
Jonathan, another CouchSurfing contact came and picked me up, showing me some sights for the rest of the afternoon. He took me to Mt. Eden which has a better view and is free. Then we went to North Shore where we walked and had some fish and chips which were far better than any I have had in the states.
Finally Jonathan drove me home to Chris’. A very full and fun first day in the land of the Kiwi.Tweet