While writing my post on the last night at the Chateau Tongariro I met a woman, Sandy, who lives in Auckland. We had so much fun listening to the piano player. In the morning I saw her again. I asked her what I should do if I only had one day in Auckland and she gave me a plan.
In the morning we met again at the train station. So, of course, we had to have a photo taken.
The train ride to Auckland was great. Rather than taking photos, I just relaxed on the train and had fun with the people. We had a lot of laughs.
I went to the food car and bought some curry soup and brought it back to my seat. When I tried to eat it, I realized that I didn’t have a spoon. So I went back to get one. As I was sitting down to eat, I noticed that I actually had a spoon right next to the soup. I just figured that it was my crazy mind forgetting that I had already opened up the spoon. Then Jan asked me if I liked my spoon. It turns out the man who was sitting across the aisle put the spoon on my tray just to trick me. I fell for it. We all had a great laugh. Of course I had to have another Kapiti Boysenberry Ice-cream bar – running out of time for New Zealand ice-cream.
Some of the time I walked around the train talking with other passengers. I found Sandy and her friends in another car. Lots of laughs all around.
We had a lively conversation with the man who was tricking me about the spoon. I am not sure if he really had the political beliefs that he was stating or if he just wanted to bait me into conversation.
When we arrived at the Strand station in Auckland, it was a far as the train went. But there was a free shuttle bus to take us into town. I can hardly find enough words to describe the kindness and hospitality of the people in New Zealand. There were only 6 of us on the shuttle bus and the driver asked each of us where we needed to go. Two got off at the regular drop off; 2 needed to go a bit further to the backpacker’s place. We told him that we needed to find a place to get a taxi that would take us to our garden apartment. He started driving. As I was watching the GPS on my phone, I realized that he was getting closer and closer to where we needed to go. After about 20 minutes, he dropped us off just a few doors from the house; We were astounded at how far off his regular route he had driven to get us close to the place we were staying.
We stayed in a lovely garden apartment that had been remodeled in what we think was a shed behind the owner’s house. It was very comfortable.
In the morning we walked to the bus stop and took the bus to the city. Then we found the Ferry Building …
and purchased our round trip tickets to Devonport. Here is the view of the Ferry Building and some boats from the ferry.
Sandy had told me that it was a lovely Victorian village. The first thing I did in Devonport was to buy a Kapiti chocolate and Hokey Pokey ice-cream cone even throat it was 10:00 am. Delicious.
We walked up Victoria street to Mount Victoria to see the views of Devonport and Auckland. On the way up we passed this lovely house.
The house is actually the Michael King Writers’ Centre which is the first full writers’ facility and literary centre in New Zealand. It is a residential centre. The project was launched after Michael’s death in 2004, when a group of his friends and literary associates decided to honour his memory by setting up a writers’ centre. Michael wrote or edited over 30 books on New Zealand topics, including The Penguin History of New Zealand, which was the most popular New Zealand book of 2004. He is deeply respected for his understanding biographies of leading Maori.
On the way up the hill I also passed a bunker that had been turned into the Devonport Folk Music Club. I was lucky because a man was doing something in the bunker and let me come in to see it.
There was a concert scheduled for the evening, but we would not be able to attend. Bummer.
Mount Victoria is not really very high. It is the highest volcano on Auckland’s North Shore rising to 87 m. Its age is currently unknown. Its lava flows now line much of Devonport’s waterfront. This is the working port in Auckland.
These cute toadstool looking things…
… are actually vents for the tunnels which are underneath.
Fort Victoria was selected for the Observation and Control Post for local coastal defenses. This is another place where they thought Russia might attack. They still have one of the hidden guns there,
We were able to go beneath to see it.
We walked back through Victoria Street and I found a silk blouse in a sample shop that I couldn’t resist. My shopping is kind of like a joke. I hardly ever, ever go clothes shopping at home. Jan loves the OP shops and stores and I end up buying things. This will probably be the last thing I purchase.
We stopped for lunch in a very small, simple place because they were selling whitebait. Jan had been looking for whitebait everywhere. She had a whitebait fritter and I had fresh fried in bread crumbs. I tasted her fritter and it was pretty good.
Sandy had said to walk along King Edward Parade along the water. We passed this incredible tree.
I went into the library to find out what it was. It was actually a Morten Bay Fig which has many aerial roots. The tree appears to be multi-trunked but the number of stems is difficult to determine. The tree does not have the typical buttressing of other Morten Bay Figs. It is 133 years old and is fondly known as Albert.
This house (across from the water) had a great garden. I loved the way they painted the doors green to blend in with the plants.
We could see back up to Mount Victoria.
After taking the ferry back to Auckland, we went to the Britomart (transportation hub) to find out how to get to a movie theater on the other side of town and then back to our B&B. They were so helpful and mapped everything out for us.
Then we walked up Queen Street and found the Art Gallery (Tāmaki). We only had 1 hour to explore the paintings of Gottfried Landauer. His depictions of the Maori were mesmerizing realistic. But the gallery closed at 5:00. Jan will return here after I leave Auckland.
We found our bus and asked the driver if he could let us know where to get off. He wasn’t sure so he turned to the passengers and asked a man if he understood where the theater was. Then he asked him to make sure we got off the bus at the right place. Another example of New Zealanders taking care of us.
Our plan was to see, “Sunset Song” but found out that it was a very special showing. Once a week the theater has a knitting movie. They charge more money, serve a glass of wine, and leave on the lights so the patrons can knit when they are watching the movie. Right up my alley, but I didn’t have any knitting with me. So we went to see, “Little Men.”
With help from people on the street we found the bus back to our house.
I left Auckland at 4:30 am on December 6th and arrived back at my house (after a cab ride, 3 flights, hours of waiting time in airports, being picked up by my daughter, and doing some grocery shopping) in 36 hours.
So this is the last post for this magnificent 11 week trip. If I hadn’t done this blog and written these posts as often as I could, this 73-year-old brain would have forgotten so much of what happened. So this has been for me. I hope those of you who read it, enjoyed at least some of the photos.
I have just a few final thoughts.
Final thoughts: This trip to Australia and New Zealand has been an amazing, delightful, sometimes challenging, and enriching experience. My acute awareness of how privileged I am to have had the time, opportunity, and ability to travel to such wonderful places sometimes overwhelms me. I know that I have this tendency to fall in love with the trees, flowers, rocks, mountains, and every experience of beauty, culture, and newness as if each is magical. The joy I get from stepping into an ocean, walking through fog in the crater of a volcano; doing a difficult hike, climbing up the spikes attached to a tree; meeting new people, and so many other adventures often makes me feel like I am 5 years old again.
Now I am home in Portland where I can be close to my family and friends and I am again filled with happiness and awe. How privileged I am to have loving, caring people in my life. What a joy to return home where I can be close to some of the most beautiful places in the world. How lucky and privileged I am to still have the ability to continue being active and find those 5-year-old moments right here at home with the people I love.