Last weekend I was in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. It’s population is approximately 1.5 million. That’s almost a third of the total for the country. Nevertheless, over the last decade or four, I’ve spent very little time there, seldom paying more than a cursory glance as I’ve passed through on my way elsewhere. Until now. Now some of our special people have moved there. And so we have begun to explore the city.
And as I’m sure you’ll have guessed, although Auckland might be large by New Zealand standards and although it has all that dazzles and glisters, I’m still me – it was the ordinary that caught my eye.
Come with me as I amble along Karangahape Road (better known as K road) through Myers Park, down Queen Street to the waterfront and you’ll see what I mean.
One thing hasn’t changed from my time in Auckland, during one summer back in the late seventies, and that’s the street art. Yay to the bird for breaking free, I say.
Although the street art is till there, K road is radically different. It’s gone up market. Where are the strip joints, the prostitutes, the people living on the street, the run down bus stops?
Gone to dust, everyone?
This bus stop is seriously flash!
But all is not lost. This barber shop is just the sort I’d expect to find here, complete with the promise of refunded hair. And just maybe the two barbers, John and Tim, who cut hair every day for more than thirty years in this very shop are indeed life wise – the other small sign in the window announces they have retired.
We wandered through an arcade, down some steps, through Myers Park, and past a replica of Michelangelo’s Moses. There were many photos that could have been taken. But it was this old building, juxtaposed against the new that caught my eye. And Ben’s.
And then I realised where I was: Greys Ave, my stomping ground for much of that long ago summer. It’s changed a lot. And so have I. For the better, both of us.
The Sky Tower is a landmark readily seen from all around Auckland. It dominated our view as we drove in to the city and it dominated the skyline during most of our walk. But once we were on Queen Street (the centre of the shopping district) it was more difficult to spot. Until I happened to look up!
I have been up to the viewing platform – once. It was raining that day and I was shocked to discover that rain doesn’t fall in nice round droplets. Some things just are not natural; descending in a lift at the same speed as falling rain is a perfect example. Viewed from an external lift(!) raindrops are actually rain cylinders. This visit I was in no hurry to go up. Been there, done that, right?
Because we’re in the city, and because it’s Auckland, here’s a shot of the sky tower I took with my phone the night before.
Our small home town has a lot of buskers. Especially during the tourist season. At the moment it’s winter. But one gentleman is on our main street nearly every day with his piano accordion. He’s good, that man. But he doesn’t have the same pizazz as a fire juggler! This act was all over in a flash but what a show.
At the bottom of Queen Street we checked out Britomart, Auckland’s solution to motorway congestion. Hmm – I saw only five platforms. What’s more when we arrived in the city, the day before, the dense traffic reminded me of Bangkok.
Soon we were at the waterfront. There weren’t many people around but we found a bar. In fact we had the choice of several.
The drink was welcome, the view constantly changing. That’s Auckland Harbour bridge in the distance.
And when I got tired of the view, there was George. Perhaps, I should have tried the coffee.
For more walks from around the world visit Jo. She’s in Bristol this week.