Thanks to our travel in 2014 and 2015, we had earned loyalty points with EVA Air which we utilised to visit Auckland through the Star Alliance partnership with Air New Zealand. Auckland is presently 3 hours ahead of Brisbane so leaving Brisbane at 6.00 pm meant that we arrived at Auckland International Airport at midnight. We could have planned that better. Taxi fare to our apartment at Metro Apartments Courthouse Lane NZ$69.00. At 1.00 am in the morning we did not much care about anything but finding our bed.
Booking in was a bit different. Whilst I stood guard over the luggage Kerry walked around to Kitchener St and the entrance to the Metro Building where our pass key had been left for collection. We learned later that the two building are joined internally. To my surprise our apartment was on the 29th floor. Again to my surprise it was modern with great views and a big bed. After catching up on sleep we awoke to a sunny but cool day and we were greeted by this view.
Breakfast called and we had a little trouble finding a suitable cafe. Lesson 1 – cafes are in High St not Queen St. Anyway we find a place and after breakfast we walked to the Sky Tower passing some interest improvisation with containers. Everywhere we look there is some thing different done with shipping containers of all sizes. On this occasion it was street vendors.
Principally we headed to the Tower as we were told this was the closest tourist information centre. Auckland has a number of volcanic plugs within it and they are steep. The tower is atop one so after a steady climb we arrived gained the info we wanted and decided that we had better have a look at this icon of Auckland. We rode the elevator to level 51 viewing platform. the elevator has a glass panel in the floor so that you can watch the ground drop away at some speed and then as you rise there are gaps in the building where you feel as though you are going to be flung out into the air. Interesting! At the top magnificent views with glass floor panels so that you can have the feeling of insecurity looking 51 floors to the ground, but wait there is more – up in a second elevator to the 60th floor for breathtaking views and the opportunity to watch the brave souls who have chosen to take the walk on the exterior of the Tower (obviously chained to the building).
After our “walk on the high side” we returned to our Apartment loaded with the groceries for a week. In the afternoon we decided to orientate our selves for later adventures so we walked down to the harbour and followed the harbour edge to Wynyard Quarter where we experienced another opening bridge. At first we wondered who’s car alarm was going off until we realised that the bridge was closing to allow a vessel to pass under into the docks. As we waited I noticed two locals sharing a yarn after swimming. The Wynyard quarter is a redeveloped area of the old waterfront and includes modern restaurants and modern designed buildings as well as more exotic uses of shipping containers (eg) this bus shelter.
We slowly wound our way back to the Apartment where there is a Pizza Restaurant called Amore. It is reminiscent of our Pizza Restaurant in Rome – we dined there just about every night. And we were not disappointed – our waiter and one of the owners clearly was Italian born and told us he came from Milan area and spent some time in Rome sold Moretti beer and made a great pizza. Perfect.
Friday morning and we caught the ferry to Devonport, a harbour side village accessible by ferry or by road the difference being 7 mins by ferry or one and a half hour drive by road. We purchased the Devonport tour which included the return ferry ride and whilst there is not a lot to see at Devonport what is there is a laid back residential life with a maritime background and Maori heritage. We left the dock at 10.00 am and were surprised that people travelling from Devonport we just as numerous as those travelling to it. We got a great view of the harbour from the ferry. As we departed we saw the Ferry House as the early sailors would have seen it, the cruise liner at its terminal, the container terminal with the War Museum on the hill in the background and part of the NZ Navy.
As we got nearer our destination we saw a lovely home on a headland and saw the iconic view of Auckland.
Our tour started on our arrival and we were joined by two other travellers both from Wollongong. We journeyed through the street of the village with our driver a retired sailor from the Naval base telling us the Maori heritage of North Head and maritime history of Flagstaff renamed Devonport when the semaphore purposes of Flagstaff Hill (now called Mt Victoria) changed. The Maori were removed from North Head and other headlands so the British could develop fortifications to protect the colony from other nations particularly the Russians. The forts they developed never fired a shot in anger and the land is to be returned to the Maori but presently is public open space.
Note the unique disappearing 8″ gun mounted on a pneumatic arm using the recoil to push it out of view.
We then moved on to the next Fort Takapuna. Much the same as North Head. Then onto Mount Victoria (Flagstaff Hill) which the Maori are talking about closing to the public. But not yet so we might be one of the last non Maori to go up the hill. Anyway we looked back to North Head and across to the docks at Auckland. We also looked at Rangitoto a volcanic island formed around 600 years ago and the latest addition to the NZ Navy built for them in Melbourne an urgent response ship.
After a relaxing morning we went home and Kerry visited a doctor regarding extreme stomach pain which she had been coping with for a few days. The GP was uncertain and with the weekend upon us she rang the Registrar at the Auckland Hospital and off we went to No 14 on the top ten favourite tourist spots in Auckland – Auckland Hospital