Auckland and the search for free wifi

Auckland, New Zealand

I’ve been in Auckland a few days now, so it’s time for an update. First of all, a sixteen-hour time difference (22 from Hawaii) is no joke. It is just around 10:30pm as I am starting to write this post, and I can barely stay awake. However, if I do not write it now, I don’t know when I will, so here goes….

Did you know that Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand? There are quite few people, restaurants and shops. I’m used to the hustle and bustle of the big city, so I’ve been taking a scenic approach instead.

On my first full day I had an almond croissant and a flat white at what is now my favorite Auckland café, and then went for a walk through Cornwall Park, a scenic and peaceful location that is the “Central Park” of the city. I immediately saw pastures full of grazing sheep and goats, and was excited to see them up close behind a fence. Later it became apparent that they are everywhere, and that there is no need to stay behind a fence as there are paths that take you directly to them. Still, farm animals are a novelty for me.

The trip to the park culminated with a visit to One Tree Hill (known as Maungakiekie by the Māori), a volcanic peak that is the highest point in the park and offers a full 360 view of the entire city. Check out the link to photos at the end of the post.

Next I took a walk to Mt Eden, which turned out to be a rather long distance away. I was exhausted after walking 1.5 hours and asking every other person I met for directions. You see, it’s hard to get around in a foreign place without a wifi signal and my phone sadly does not accommodate sim-cards. I am exploring ways to remedy this situation. Anyway, Mt. Eden (Maungawhau), is a dormant volcano that is the highest point on the Auckland isthmus and also offers 360 views of the city and surrounding landscape. I dragged my feet on up the volcano, and as always, the views were worth it. Absolutely gorgeous! By the time I came down the exhaustion was gone, and only the hunger remained, which I promptly satiated with the classic meal of a burger and fries (or chips, as they are called here. Chips are crisps by the way).

At this point nighttime had fallen, so I headed to the Stardome Observatory and Planetarium back at Cornwall for a quick show and a viewing of the night sky. I was surprised to learn that I had arrived on the night of a special event– a presentation on how to navigate by the stars, using constellations to tell latitude, longitude and local time. Wine and cheese were also provided. Unfortunately, I had come early, and this event required a two-hour wait. It was during this wait that I spotted my new friend Andrés (HELLO ANDRÉS) wearing a Mets t-shirt. Together we observed the surface of the moon through a telescope and learned how to navigate by the stars. The rain came and we were unable to see any more of the cosmos after the show. I have a rain check for free access to the telescope but sadly I will probably not have time to use it. After the show it was time to head home for some well earned R&R. Quick disclaimer: I can tell you in theory how to navigate by the stars but do not ask me to do it. I need to practice.

The next morning Andrés and I took an early ferry to Rangitoto, a small island formed by a young volcano. What followed was another hike, more incredible views of Auckland surrounding island, a short walk through a cave, and many photos of birds. We took the return ferry to the suburb of Davenport and walked around for a while before having some gelato and returning home.

Guys, I am so tired. I am going to go to sleep. I will conclude with the following:

1) Mary is coming to Auckland tomorrow and together we are going adventuring on the north island. I am excited!

2) Photos are available here:

Hawaii:
https://goo.gl/photos/jtfinXKnzvf4WpgU8

Auckland/North Island --> more to come in the next few days
https://goo.gl/photos/jwYRSiJ16ncgPnebA