October 25, 2017-Today we were on our own for a tour of Auckland. Adventure Caravans did pay for a Hop On, Hop Off bus, which we used extensively. We boarded the bus near the Auckland Sky City, a tower that is the tallest building in Auckland and just a few blocks from our hotel. We rode the bus until the Auckland Museum, where we got off to look at the museum and to pick up an alternative bus that followed a different route. On the way to the museum we saw the bay next to Auckland. Auckland is on a narrow strip of land connecting the two ends of the North Island, so the ocean is never far away. Apparently Auckland is a big sailing capital. There were some islands just off Auckland I was interested in visiting (vineyards and beaches), but we just didn’t have time.
We arrived at the museum in the middle of an labor protest being held outside the museum. The protesters were upset over low pay by the Fletcher Building company. Fletcher Building was holding its annual shareholders meeting at the museum.
We timed our visit well, as a different kind of demonstration of Maori dance and song was starting up. We hadn’t done much research on the Maori before we arrived, but we were familiar with the Haka and some Maori moves. This was a small group that did Maori dances, chants, and songs with enthusiasm even though there were only about 10 of us in the audience. I was particularly impressed with one bearded guy whose energy was boundless. Even after the session in the more informal setting where we could visit with the performers, he was smiling and bouncing around. I like someone who is enthusiastic about their work.
We had a little time to walk around and look at the museum before picking up the other bus. It was a mix of ancient Maori life examples (masks, canoes, houses, weapons) and WWI and WWII war museum with a little Maori v. British history thrown in.
I was struck by the prevalence of war memorials here—later we saw them in every town where the losses in the Great War and WWII were listed and memorialized. Both wars had a traumatic effect on the peoples of these islands—so many losses out of proportion to the population. So they remember.
We caught the second bus, which took us around the parks and neighborhoods of Auckland. We saw Eden Garden and Mount Eden (Auckland’s highset point), the entrance to the Auckland Zoo (no time to go in) and, of course, we stopped at St. Lukes Westfield Shopping Centre for lunch and to check out the shopping scene in Auckland.
We caught the bus back to the museum and looked around for another hour, then took the bus back to downtown Auckland. This place was very sophisticated as they had a Starbuck’s just down the block from our hotel.
Once back and rested up, Susan and I went out for dinner, back to the restaurant collective we had seen the night before. It offered a great mix of restaurants and foods, with a common seating area and common trays and utensils. It was like a high end food court. Excellent food, reasonably priced wine and a happening atmosphere packed with young professionals enjoying the meal and each other. A good day.