Welcome to Auckland or this is definitely not Latin America

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.

Arriving at Britomart Transport Centre, Auckland, New Zealand

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.

My initial view of downtown Auckland, New Zealand

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.

Auckland Ferry Terminal

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.


Auckland View from Devonport Summit


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.

At 328 meters, the Sky Tower is New Zealand's Tallest Manmade Structure

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.

The View from Mt. Eden


Auckland's North Shore

Finally Jonathan drove me home to Chris’.  A very full and fun first day in the land of the Kiwi.

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10 Responses to Welcome to Auckland or this is definitely not Latin America

  1. Rob, A Kiwi in Chile March 9, 2012 at 3:40 am #

    Wow, you certainly packed a lot in the first day, especially after that 12-hour odd flight that arrives at 4.30-ish in the morning (assuming you took the normal flight between the continents).
    Devonport was still a good choice, and no, I have no Idea what those lines of mushrooms are, probably old ventilation.
    Hope you enjoy the rest of New Zealand, I’m sure you will.
    Rob, A Kiwi in Chile recently posted..10 years and big news

    • Philip March 9, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

      Thanks Rob. It was actually a 16 hour flight. However, the free business class ticket helped to reduce the fatigue considerably.

  2. Judie March 9, 2012 at 9:10 am #

    Fantastic! Love the photos from your new camera. Keep them coming!

    • Philip March 9, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

      Thanks Judie. More chances to practice with it every day!

  3. Mindy March 9, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    Looks gorgeous Phil!!
    I love the photos with the new camera!!! Bet you’re enjoying it a lot!

    • Philip March 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

      Love the new Oly and NZ sis. It can only get better.

  4. Stephanie - The Travel Chica March 9, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    Good idea to use CouchSurfing to find out the best sights (and the cheapest way to see them).

    • Philip March 9, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

      I am loving CS for so many reasons Stephanie. Now, I have hosted, surfed, visited, toured and even met a really nice woman I hope to see again soon. It really is a great way to connect our global village even closer.

  5. Molly May 20, 2012 at 7:31 am #

    Wow, Philip! You’re killing me over here. I’m Florida now and by looking at these stunning photos of Auckland, I’m dying to go!!!!

    The people must be so cultured over there based on what you wrote about them being green. Sometimes it makes me feel like America is stuck in the stone ages!

    Anyways, have the most amazing time in NZ!
    Molly recently posted..The Amazing Magic Circuit of Water Show in Lima, Peru.

    • Philip May 22, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

      Molly, people by and large do seem to care fiercely about their environment here. One government was toppled over a plan to drain the water out of lake Manapouri back n the early 70s. In the US we talk a lot about it but sadly don’t do a lot. Of course, there are less than 4 million folks in NZ so the demands on the environment are not as severe. Also, most electricity is produced either by hydro or geothermal (both pretty clean).

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