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september 3, 2000
These first few days in town have been enjoyable and relaxing thanks to the photo here generous hospitality of my host Richard, who has taken me on his "Tiki" tour of Auckland and had me as a guest in his home. nz ocation mapWe started most days with a walk for us and his dog on the pretty beaches that range the North Shore. All of them are public accessible, and many have connecting paths so one could traverse several beaches quite easily.

photo here Some of the most impressive things I have seen is an incredible range of architectural style, in both commercial buildings but mostly homes. Nearly every home strives for a ridge top view of the beach or the city or the mountains, and quite a few have some bold structure along with vast expanses of glass. So one could assume these Kiwis like their views!

The other adjustment of course is their crazy notion of driving on the left side of the road, with cars outfitted accordingly (driver's seat on the right). Several times I reached for the wrong car door! Street signs hint at a more gentle way here-- rather than our harsh command to "YIELD" the equivalent signs here read, "Give Way". For American pedestrians, the main danger is looking left when crossing a street rather than right.

But these habits are easily adjusted. We will see.

The accents here too will take some time as well to tune my ears to. There are very British tones as well as the more clipped and chirpy (?) New Zealand accent. I do find some of it rubbing off already, though I am not ready to fool any natives by a long shot.

today's photos
- all photos   o o o o

o o Hello to Auckland

Of calendar note, my arrival date here, September 1 was the first day of Spring. Also, today, September 3rd is when they celebrate Father's Day (sorry Dad for not sending a Kiwi "Dad's" day greeting), but as the large number of families we saw out and about, it looks as though the treatment here is the same as our celebration.

Saturday's sightseeing started with a visit to the Sunday market in Takapuna, what we in the states might call a "Flea Market", a bustling crowded throng milling about makeshift tables and stalls set up in a parking lot, all in search of the easily reached bargains. There was a wide range of antiques, crafts, farm fresh fruits and veggies, second hand everything. Richard keeps reminding my of the buying power of my US dollars!

photo here Next, we drove to the bottom "tip" of North Shore, the charming area knowns as Devonport. It sits just across the harbor from downtown Auckland which is easily reached in a 10 minute ferry ride. The main street features restaurants, bookstores, clothing stores, and antique shops.

photo here One of the more interesting places, occupying the old post office, is Jackson's Museum, a two story building that appears overflowing with just about everything collectible an perhaps more. Unfortunately it has been closed for some time, and as one gleans from the highlighted (and commented) city notices plastered over the front, that the owner has been at odds with city managers over some bureaucratic silliness.

photo here At the tip of Devonport is one of the 16 small hills in Auckland that are grass covered volcanic cones. North Head provides fantastic 360 degree views of the city. But more than just providing a tall place to stand upon, the whole hill seems to be a network of tunnels and hidden bunkers, apparently built in the late 1800s due to perceived threats from Russia and later Japan. They even constructed circular bunkers which housed large guns that could be raised and then lowered so it has a hidden fortress.

The next vantage point we traverse to was One Tree Hill, which not surprisingly, is a hill with... one tree atop it. Or, in the Maori language, Maungakiekie photo here This site was long sacred (and defended) by the native Maori as a "pa" site, marked by a solitary totara tree. By the time the white settlers pakeha came, however, it was abandoned, and the land was purchased by Sir John Logan Campbell. The original tree had been removed by other settlers, so Campbell replaced it with the present pine tree, and later he donated the land and surrounding Cornwall Park to the city. The obelisk at the top marks Maori-white friendship, although some Maori activists tried in 1994 to cut the tree down (apparently against the replacement of the original tree).

Cornwall park is lush and full of a wonderful variety of trees, including the dramatic pohutukawa trees, which flower so red in December they are called "New Zealand Christmas trees". photo here Also on the grounds is Acacia Cottage, which Campbell built as a residence in 1841, and one can walk through to gather a sense what life and conditions where like for the early settlers. Across the way is also a nice cafe where we enjoy a delicious lunch.

The last stop on this city tour is the waterfront area of central Auckland, the hub of activity for the 2000 America's Cup Yacht races held here. On this day, the harbor is not nearly as active as it was for that event, but there are plenty of folks out enjoying a nice day by the water. There are a host of interesting buildings built just for that event, all in some way emulating sailing ships or large cruise ships in their construction design. Things will pick up again in 2002 when the races return to Auckland.

Later in the day, Richard takes me over to the UNITEC campus where I will be lodging in some student/guest housing, but that is part of tomorrow's news.

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