Amazing adventures in Auckland
Familiar and foreign – how can this be?
A few weeks ago, I embarked on a long awaited visit to New Zealand. Although I’ve lived in Australia for two thirds of my life (and more than ninety percent of my adult years), I hold deep connections to the land of my birth.
To those of you in the northern hemisphere Australia and New Zealand appear close. In reality, where I live on the West coast it’s 5000km to Auckland. With the magnetic pull of family, I’ve flown that route frequently, and this time it was the longest ever time (purely due to closed borders) that I’d been separated from family, absent from place.
So it took me by surprise, when driving through suburbs I’d lived in in my youth and walking through landscapes I thought I knew well to realise that they appeared foreign. I commented that in the first 2 weeks what I saw was more foreign than familiar.
There’s lots to love about Auckland, even in the winter. Whether you prefer the serenity of nature or the cool vibe and energetic pulse of a city Auckland has something to offer. And because it is compact you can cover a lot of ground in 72 hours.
In the CBD where I spent 2 days and nights I relished exploring ‘downtown’ on foot. The viaduct and the adjacent Wynyard quarter is promoted as the place to go, with the backdrop of the harbour, the reflections in the water and the luxury sea vessels on show it is beguiling. It’s a place of contrast, with a fish market not far from luxury brands such as Prada, Tiffany’s and Gucci. Plus the flagship shop of Allbirds, https://www.allbirds.co.nz a New Zealand designed brand of quirky sustainable runners that caught my attention.
For me, vitality includes adventure. My husband and I slip out of ‘Anzac Loft’ before dawn, leaving the rest of our party dreaming in their superbly comfortable beds. As we stroll past the stately red posts of the original wharf, we’re rewarded with reflections of the sky tower and a silvery moon. Seagulls screech to herald a new day.
Later in the day, venturing ‘up the hill’, i.e. Queen Street we’re treated to glimpses of the grand old dame the city presented as last century. The door to the Auckland town hall is open where the multi-story staircase, adorned by an ornate wood and metal balustrade lit by stained glass windows beckoned us in.
The Strand Arcade appears as a neglected dilapidated old crone, however her gnarly finger and memories of the stately place she once was lures us in, where we see potential lurking beneath the crusty grime. In contrast warmth and inviting scents drift out the open doors of gleaming new stores such as Mecca.
Casting our eyes skywards, the juxtaposition of old and new is intriguing, reminding me that amidst constant change, the solid parts of our history can frame and in their own way, beautify the new.
A month later, having travelled to Wellington and back, via Tauranga and Taupo I’m back in Auckland. As I climb the steep ascent of One Tree Hill, and admire the spectacular view, it suddenly dawns on me that what seemed mainly foreign and only vaguely familiar a few short weeks prior, is now very familiar again. A reminder that while our memories may need a little priming, our brain knows, and has stored the circuits in its vaults just waiting for an opportunity to bring them out and let them shine again.
As you contemplate who and where you’ve missed visiting in the past two and a half years I sincerely hope that you’ll soon be reunited, a heart spark worth waiting for!
May your day be filled with vitality,
If you’re inspired to explore some of Auckland’s gems here’s some fabulous suggestions for staying and eating 😃
Where to stay: Anzac Lofts https://www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/30353968
Where to eat delicious food: Amano, Sid at the French Café, Spiga, Little Bird, Burger Geek – there is something for every palate in this list!