Monday, February 22, 2016

On a Mission

On Friday, after a grocery shop to stock up the campervan where I was scandalised by how much things cost now in NZ ($275 for like half a trolley of groceries), I took Jules to one of my favourite places in Auckland, Mission Bay. Across the other side of the city from where my parents are, it's a beautiful place for a drive on the harbour, a walk, to sit in a café or go to the beach. It used to be full of roller bladers too, but either they've moved on or have day jobs, since we didn't see any.

I have been known to be a bit down on Auckland in the past. I lived in Wellington for a bit as a student, and said thereafter that if I ever moved back to NZ, I would live in Wellington, not Auckland. Auckland has its issues - traffic, humidity, endless urban sprawl - which in turn generate further lifestyle problems, since it's hard to get that sort of relaxed, after-work drink vibe going when everyone has to get in their cars and spend an hour in traffic to get home.

But being able to spend a few days in Auckland as a tourist has helped me appreciate the city more. I've been reading various things on where to go and what to see in New Zealand - being from a place means that you're expected to be the all-knowing expert, when in fact most of the places on our itinerary I've never been to, or only once as a kid - and most people pan Auckland or say it's only useful to fly in to and start your trip shortly afterwards. It's not where I'd recommend people spend all of their time, of course, but after living in landlocked European cities for so long, the greenness of the city and especially the proximity, no matter what part of the city you're in, to not one but two coasts is actually pretty special.

This is illustrated pretty well by Mission Bay, which is really close to the city centre and has fabulous views across the water to the city and the extinct (?) volcano of Rangitoto (according to Wikipedia, this is one of 50 volcanoes in the Auckland area).

Looking towards the volcanic island of Rangitoto

Panorama with the city on the left

Downtown Auckland. The tall building is the Sky Tower, which is over 1000 ft/328 metres tall, making it the tallest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere (and probably way down the list in the Northern Hemisphere)

It got a bit windy out there

The view from my parents' house. If you enlarge it, you can see Rangitoto fairly central on the horizon, and (just) see the Sky Tower to the right of that (you can see them better in real life)
Afterwards, we stopped in for a coffee with my MA thesis supervisor, which was really nice, and then finished up the evening with dinner with friends. Today, there is not a cloud in the sky and we're heading for a family BBQ. I'll just have to be more careful not to get burnt, like I did yesterday - I must have forgotten that UV levels in NZ are a lot higher than Europe and the US. Oops!


  1. You should have mentioned that those two small hills in the background to Jules are also volcanos!

    1. Unless pointed out otherwise, I'm assuming every hill I see is a volcano!


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