The Kiwi Chronicles- Day 5 Part 2

…and so we left the war memorial and moved down to the Winter Gardens. The gardens house two greenhouses separated by a pool on the corners of which are 4 statues, representing each of the four seasons. The first greenhouse housed all sorts of flowers and the second was a hot house for tropical plants.

Winter Garden Greenhouse

Winter Garden Greenhouse

20150616_103502

Corpse Flower

We were lucky, or unlucky, I can’t decide which, to be there just as the Corpse Flower was starting to blossom. The last time it blossomed, over 17000 people came to see it, braving its rotting smell. Not being too fond of the smell of rotting meat, we passed on coming back to see it in full bloom and finally left the warm and toasty Austen-like greenhouse to head to Devonport’s popular landmark- Mt. Victoria also known as Takarunga

20150616_112239

Postcard worthy views of Auckland

Up on the freezing Mt. Victoria (well, it really was freezing at that point), is an old disappearing gun installed for fear of pending Russian invasion (which obviously never happened). The gun, Dawn told us, was only fired once – a test round- after citizen’s complained of the sound. As we drove around Devonport we came across the Michael King Writers’ Centre, a great place for writers to find inspiration, we mutually concluded. Devonport has some great shops but we were pressed for time and instead headed towards Westhaven (which coupled as our toilet break). It was there that we finally realized how aptly named Auckland is, as the City of Sails, with almost everyone owning a sailboat. Incidentally, Auckland also has one of the highest rates of car ownership in the world.

Westhaven Marina

Westhaven Marina

Auckland Harbour Bridge

Auckland Harbour Bridge

We got a great view of the Auckland Harbour bridge but were not daredevil enough to try the bungee jump. If I’m not jumping of Sky Tower towards a concrete pavement I’m not jumping of a bridge into the deep blue either. They have the option of a bridge climb too which looks like a much safer albeit less thrilling option.

This was the last stop before the wilderness tour in the afternoon and we made our way back after passing Kelly Tarton’s Sea Life Aquarium which we were amazed to learn was an aquarium built using unused underground sewage tanks. Who would ever imagine that such a place would house penguins one day!

Stay tuned for Day 5- Part 3

The Kiwi Chronicles- Day 5 Part 1

Also known as The Day Of The Full Day Tour. It’s really quite cruel when an alarm forces you to get out of your warm and cozy bed, but time it was to get ready for the trip. We started off with nice hot showers and an early attempt at breakfast. We stocked up on our snacks (mostly crisps and water because we weren’t quite sure what lunch would entail), together with our raincoats (which we forgot we had brought along on the trip) and were all set to go. We thought the tour had been booked with GrayLine but as in turns out the hotel had booked us with Bush and Beach, which turned out to be a good thing in the end. The morning city tour ended up being a private tour with our lovely English guide, Dawn, who had backpacked to New Zealand with the intention of staying for 3 months, only to end up staying there for about 28 years. It’s funny how things turn out.

Dawn was amazing enough to swap out our Queen’s section of the tour since we’d pretty much been everywhere. Instead, we started of with some fabulous views of the city. After yesterday’s umbrella incident, we were worried that it might turn out to be another cloudy day but we were incredibly lucky. While it was freezing cold, there was not a single trace of a cloud which meant visibility was absolutely stunning.

Sky Tower- always there to help find your bearings

Islands basking in the sun

From the deep blue so close to touch, we moved up to Achilles Point. There’s one thing about Auckland that I’ve got to point out here… every view seems decidedly better than the last, so much so that you’re hard pressed to pick a favourite. It was the same with Achilles Point- yet another place on my long list of “Ooooh let’s live here” places.

20150616_091714

A fine white line between blue and even blue-r

20150616_092011

To dive and swim off…

But since we couldn’t live there, we were forced to move on towards Parnell. Parnell is a world apart from Queen’s and Albert Street. While those places were packed with people on the move, Parnell had more of a laid back small-town feel, with cozy homes turned-shops and cafes lining the streets. It was not always such a place and the story of its transformation made it all the more charming.

20150616_095557

Anyone up for coffee?

It was at Parnell’s that we came across St. Mary’s Church, one of the oldest wooden churches, and known for two things. It’s first distinction is that it was lifted from its original location and moved across the street to accommodate some fancy new housing development. The second is that this is where Sir Edmund Hillary’s service was held.

20150616_100635

St. Marys Church in Parnell

Reminded that the main religion in New Zealand is actually rugby, we then headed to the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Despite the schoolchildren on their trip, the mood was sombre…Lest We Forget.

Auckland War Memorial Museum

Auckland War Memorial Museum

Lest We Forget

Lest We Forget

We may never forget, but are our memories enough to stop us from repeating the same mistakes? It would appear not and that makes all the difference.

Stay tuned for Day 5 Part 2