I started yesterday by purchasing a hop on off bus ticket and my first stop was the Auckland museum to learn a little about the city and New Zealand in general.
Auckland's landscape and weather was a bit of a surprise to me. Auckland is on the north island of New zealand and has a sub- tropical climate with a number of palm trees (no one seems to know if palm trees are native to this area-- but they do seem to thrive in this climate). The winters are mild here and rarely do they even get frost. Auckland is very hilly and is built on volcanic fields and while they say the individual volcanos are extinct the fields are just dormant-- let's hope the stay that way until I leave. There are 1.4 million people in Auckland and the original natives are from the Maori tribe.
The Auckland museum displays dated back to the early Maori people through captain Cook and European settlers to the history of New Zealand's participation in various wars to the culture changes in the 50 and 60's. I guess you know you are getting old when the shoes you wore as a kid are in a museum along with your school uniform and desk! The museum also had some beautiful stained glass displays.
The streets of Auckland are filled with music and entertainment as the International Busker Festival starts here next week. Auckland also has a tent city in the downtown area but it is out of the way and not attracting much attention. The two shark attacks in Australia and the Italian cruise ship captain are the lead news items along with highlights from the US primaries.
Auckland is the city of sails as you can see by the photos. The water is a beautiful green color - not sure the pictures show the vibrant green.
I took a picture of the church where the funeral for Sir Edmund Hillary was held in 2008. I also took a picture of the stadium where the rugby world cup took place last year. For all you golf lovers there are two private golf courses in Auckland and a round of golf costs $400.
With regards to the crane picture below, it is interesting these type of cranes were developed in the late 1960's before that freighters were loaded manually and it took approx 3 weeks to load a freight. These cranes allow a freighter to be loaded in 3 days.
Today I took a ferry to Waiheke island. Auckland is surrounded by a number of islands much like the Gulf Islands. This island is known for Its walking trails, vineyards and olives. Although the island reminded me of the north shore of Oahu (the vegetation, homes etc) I spent a lovely day walking trails, taking pictures, laying on a beautiful sandy beach and dipping my toes in the ocean which was not too cold but not quite warm enough to take a full body dip. Have not heard of any shark sightings here!
To really see the north island one needs to rent a car and get out of the city although gas is $2.11 a litre.
I would like to explore Cape Reinga, the 90 mile beach and the great barrier island however I obviously did not do enough research and I have not left myself enough time to do this (need at least 5 to 6 days). I am off to the south island tomorrow to Queenstown. Guess this means I will be coming back to New Zealand at least the north island.