City of Sails

Trip Start Oct 01, 2008
1
15
21
Trip End ??? ??, 2009


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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Monday, March 2, 2009

We started our mid-term break with a couple of days in Auckland. A very large city by New Zealand standards with a population of about 1.3 million - almost one third of the country's total - and it felt like it after 4 months in the South Island!  Lots of cars, traffic lights, traffic jams, motorways etc.. 
It is, however, a lovely city that is similar to, though not on such a grand scale as, Sydney. We were only there for 2 days but that is probably enough to see the major sights, as it's not like a visit to Paris or Rome where there is so much history you can return time and time again. There's an excellent hop-on, hop-off bus that takes in the sights and the main museum, although the latter was a little disappointing with lots of interesting artefacts but in need of some updating to take account of 21st century technology and presentation.  However, there aren't that many cities where you can be on a beautiful sandy beach close to the centre, or where you can take a short ferry ride across the harbour to a part of the city which has a 'villagey' feel to it (Devonport), then walk to the top of an extinct volcanic crater and have the most glorious views over the harbour - or just jump off for a bit of parascending. 
There is even a bay called St Helier and a suburb called Epsom - not sure what they would feel there about a merger!!
As you would expect there are plenty of great restaurants with excellent seafood and even the more upmarket places are quite laid back and relatively informal. We would recommend a meal in the Orbit restaurant in the SkyTower, which rotates through 360 degrees each hour and affords wonderful views of Auckland and the surrounding area. We went a little before sunset and so experienced the view both in daylight and at night. The food was suprisingly good as well. You can even Bungy jump from the top if you so wish - which we didn't!
The Jafas were quite friendly and I can see that if you like the sophistication of city life but also love sailing, or the beach life where the weather is pretty good all year round, then Auckland has a lot going for it. However, it doesn't have the plethora and variety of music, theatre and art etc. that London has in order to make it a place I would want to live forever - but worth a visit for a weekend or two.
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