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Nau mai, haere mai…welcome to New Zealand

After more than 30 hours travel, I have arrived on the opposite side of the globe – Auckland in New Zealand. Clear that it’s a long journey, but everything went fine, and I can easily sleep onboard an airplane. I sat next to a retired French man, Alaine (‘Allan’) from Marseille who is going to backpack New Zealand for a month i.e. trekking and taking public transport. He has brought a tent for sleeping. Quite impressed and inspiring to do such a tour in his age, and also considering his very limited English (of which he knew).

The efficiency of coming through customs and security check is very high, I had expected much more difficulties from what I heard of bringing trekking gear into New Zealand, also considering I had been to Nepal just the week before. Being an expert in evaluating a city from the trash and smog in the streets, also in the suburbs – this city is very clean, and the sun was welcoming me when arriving early morning.  

I could not get the booked hotel room early, so I walked around the city for 5 hours (7am to 12am). I walked by the art gallery, and quite funny they have currently a display of Danish design. The nearby Alberts park (named after Victoria’s Albert – there was also a statue of her with her usual smiling face) is quite interesting with many different trees, and branches tentacling. There is a lot of rebuilding taking place near the bay area, so it’s difficult to see much from all the fences and road work. From my walk in the city center, there are few ‘historic’ buildings e.g. the Cathedral, Ferry Building and Town Hall – but clear that this is a rather new city. Some of the streets are very hilly (almost reminds of San Francisco) centered around the flat or slight downhill Queen street.     

A short stop in the cathedral, and then over to get close to the Sky Tower – highest building on the southern hemisphere. There were still some hours before I could get a room, so I walked to Mount Eden, which is an old volcano south of the city center. It’s around 200m high, so no issues with Everest legs 😉 There was a clear view from the summit all around the city and suburbs. After these few hours, I start to feel that the UV concentration is high, and that sunscreen and hat are mandatory for me.

In the evening I try the classical Fish n’ Chips, and local brewed beer – both very good. Next, is a tour to the Sky Tower to see the city lights (I buy a two day ticket, so I can see the sunset tomorrow). Very nice view from the tower, and I’m very impressed by the handheld photos from my Huawei P30 Pro! For comparison I also made a regular shot, which probably compares to what Iphones and Samsungs can currently do 😉 Did I also mention about the 5x optical zoom, 10x hybrid zoom, wide angle lense and very good battery – Huawei is for sure the phone to beat!

Having walked across most of the city center, I use next day on a trip to Rangitoto island. It’s a 600years volcano which can be seen as a symmetric cone from the city. The ferry (or speed boat, we were doing close to 40km/h) takes half an hour, and my first tour is to the summit. My first time walking on a volcano, with the dark and stony/lava soil. Interesting to see the vegetation, and also hearing many birds – but do not get a close view of them. From the top there is a good view to the surroundings and the nearby island, Motutapu, which looks quite different with green fields. I decent to McKenzie Bay to see the lighthouse, but can not get close (then it’s convenient to have packed a drone in my backpack). In my return to the ferry I have a chat with a German who is in Auckland for a computer science conference – some benefits from working in academia.

In the evening the sky is clouded, so there is not much sunset to see from the Sky Tower. I stroll around, and start planning more in-detail for the next day, where I’m picking up the Camper van. For dinner I have very good dumplings (beef and chicken). Generally, there are a lot of Asian restaurants and people in Auckland.

I go for a free guided tour the next morning. We are close to 30 persons and the guide Maathy is very fun and colorful. I have walked almost all the areas upfront, but get the good stories and details this time. It’s also convenient to get recommendations for best coffee, restaurants and things to see and do in Auckland – but I’m now heading for picking up the camper.

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