Free Day in Auckland (Nov 19, 2018)

In spite of big plans to sleep ‘til noon, we woke rested around 5:30 ready to take on the day. We met Walter and Cleone for a leisurely breakfast overlooking the water. I broke my fast with a delicious international meal of melon, kiwi, fried rice, pot stickers, local cheese, a mini-roll, and three divine mini-pastries and coffee. Once we had all made as many trips to the buffet as we wanted we took off in the direction of the hop-on-hop-off  bus.

We enjoyed both bus loops but did not get off at any of the sites. Auckland, by far the largest and most populated (1.5 million) city in New Zealand, is situated on seven extinct seaside volcanoes, so the terrain is a series of rolling hills. This part of North Island is so narrow in some places that one side of the city faces the Pacific Ocean and the other side, just over half a mile away, faces the Tasman sea. The streets are wide and the architecture unremarkable for the most part. We have been surprised by the number of people sitting quietly on the sidewalk with a donation cup close at hand. A few homeless napped in nooks and crannies and buskers played music and performed for tips. My favorite was a small skeleton marionette singing in front of a mini-microphone.

Nicknamed City of Sails (pronounced si-uls), boats are everywhere. Some of the inlets have so many boats it’s hard to see the water. Reminds me of a parking lot at Christmas. It was estimated at one time that there is one boat per every dozen people leaving the residents to brag the highest percentage of boat ownership in the world.

Once we completed the second bus loop, Walter and Cleone headed back to the hotel; Dan went shopping; and I went to the Auckland War Memorial Museum to see the largest collection of Maori artifacts in the world. Let’s just say the Maori are and were carvers and woodworkers on a grand scale! An old home of a prominent family and a large storage house were in the museum and every square inch of the walls was carved. Like nothing I have seen. There were also swords, masks, clubs, spears, shields, small dug outs, and one freakishly long, narrow canoe. Some things I have never seen before include wooden headrests, used primarily by men, that looked like low footstool and were used in the place of pillows. Ouch. New for me also were the intricate, decorative hair combs, again used primarily by men; fly whisks with intricately carved handles and bushy tails used to swoosh away insects; and beautiful bark cloth made out of, you guessed it, tree bark!

Totally unanticipated was the Field of Remembrance made up of 18,227 small white crosses displayed on the slopping lawn in front of the museum. It is a temporary display commemorating the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice ending World War I. Each cross had the service number, rank, and name of the deceased. Families suffering multiple losses were remembered in a separate Brothers Field where there were crosses for 636 sets of two brothers, 51 sets of three, and 9 sets of four brothers. I approached a man carrying one of the crosses and asked if removing the crosses was allowed. He explained that three days were set aside toward the end of the display when family and friends were encouraged to wander the field and remove the crosses of loved ones. Finding a specific cross is no small task since they are not in alphabetical order. Other than being displayed by year of death, they are random to commemorate the way each person fell. The man I met was carrying his great uncle’s cross and his brother had just located the cross of another relative. This field of remembrance, very special to see, was just one that communities around the country have done.

Everyone met back at the hotel in time for a casual dinner in the lobby bar. Hettie and Ronnie arrived safe and sound while we were all out playing, so the highlight of the evening was reuniting with our cruise director and her designated plus one. A funny: Ronnie had recently had eye surgery that required him to wear a patch over one eye for awhile. To show our solidarity Cleone brought each of us an eye patch, so we rode down in the elevator (taking a few people by surprise) wearing our eye patches and strolled over to where H&R were waiting for us. It got just the reaction Cleone was after!


The unofficial symbols of the country are the silver fern and the flightless
kiwi bird, sadly now rare and protected.

New Zealand has more national parks, as a percentage of the country’s land area, than any other country in the world, approximately 20%! Entrance is free. No dogs allowed.

Speed bumps/humps are called traffic calmers or judder bars.

Tipping is not expected and sometime considered an insult. My kind of country!

New Zealand was formed 100 million years ago when it detached from the original landmass of the southern hemisphere.
As a result, much of the animal and plant life is unique to New Zealand.


2 thoughts on “Free Day in Auckland (Nov 19, 2018)

  1. My pleasure Leni. It’s fun to remember the events of the day.

    Once we get out of the city, it should be your kind of a trip. My kind too, actually. Once i’ve seen the highlights I’m always ready to see the countryside.


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