On the advice of a fellow cruiser we left Escape Velocity at anchor and took the 35-minute ferry right to downtown Auckland. We hope to visit the city later by car but for today we planned to join a free walking tour that gets rave reviews on Trip Advisor. We made a quick stop at the tourist office to get a map and some recommendations for lunch.
Our tour guide was young, educated, enthusiastic and knowledgable about all things Auckland and Kiwi. He was also a great storyteller and regaled us with tales of notable New Zealanders and Maori history and culture.
We walked past new plantings of kauri trees, barely recognizable as the same species as the old giants we saw further north and our guide pointed out new architecture and the ways Auckland is connecting indoor and outdoor spaces.
We love that you can’t walk one city block in New Zealand without passing bookstores and cafes. It’s a paradise for Jack and me, and we wondered how many decades you’d have to live here to try every one of the inviting coffee shops.
We originally planned to ride the needle to the top — it’s the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere — but our guide recommended instead the view from Mt. Eden, something better done when we have a car, and easier on the budget.
The art museum is beautiful, and the ubiquitous cafe called to us, but that’ll have to be later, too.
We stopped whenever we had good shade on this glorious warm sunny day while we listened to stories of the Treaty of Waitangi — we’d been there! — and of the ways that Kiwis have embraced Maori culture and language.
Our group included tourists from Germany, France, Canada and Chile, and ranged in age from 19 to 60s. We were the only yachties and they were all impressed that we’d sailed here on our own boat. It’s been refreshing to be apart from the cruising community for a bit and see ourselves from the other side. It reminds us that what we’re doing is rare and adventurous, something we forget when everyone we’re with is doing the same thing.
Craig pointed out this oops on a memorial plaque. Read carefully; it gave me a good laugh and my congenital proofreading family will appreciate it.
We ended where we started, back at the waterfront. After lunch, we were pretty knackered and took a very leisurely stroll along the quayside where the super yachts dock, and past yet another little library, this one in a shipping container.
We took the ferry back to Waiheke when we couldn’t walk any further. As we came into the anchorage we were a little annoyed that a local boat anchored quite close to us. That’s going to bear watching.