Two Beautiful Days in Auckland

Sunday, February 2

We disembarked this morning and headed to our hotel – Heritage, Auckland. We were too early to get into our room, so decided to do some wandering around. The hotel is located downtown, not far from the Sky Tower.

Auckland looks a lot like Minneapolis, but with more diversity. It is a city of about 1.5 million people. This is about 1/3 of the total population of New Zealand. The city sits atop almost 50 dormant volcanoes. Some of the craters are used for soccer and rugby fields. Since there is so much of it, volcanic rock is used for curbing, walkways, even siding for buildings. Auckland is called the “City of Sails.” There are as many as 135,000 yachts in the area. Westhaven Marina is the largest marina in the southern hemisphere, boasting 2,000 moorings.

Sky Tower

Sky Tower

Volcanic rock used for curbing

Volcanic rock used for curbing

Volcanic rock walkway

Volcanic rock walkway

Largetst marina in  Southern Hemisphere

Largetst marina in Southern Hemisphere

Monday, February 3

While most of you were watching Super Bowl pre-game shows, or the game itself, we toured the area, visiting many of the neighborhoods. There are many homes built in the 1800’s that are still in use today. They were built with wood from the native Kauri tree. This wood was very desirable because it is very straight, has no knots, and emits a chemical that repels insects. It doesn’t rot. If the home is well maintained and painted regularly, it can continue to look like a fairly new home. Unfortunately, the Kauri was harvested almost to extinction and shipped to other countries. It is a slow growing tree, taking about 90 years to reach a size that builders would want to use. The tree is protected, but is now threatened by a microscopic organisms in the soil that damage the tissues that carry nutrients to the tree. Once it’s infected, it will die.

Young Kauri tree

Young Kauri tree

We stopped at their war memorial, which afforded some great views of the surrounding city and water.

My, you have a big gun!

My, you have a big gun!

IMG_1639

We visited the Waikatere Ranges, which form a natural barrier between Auckland and the Tasman Sea. This is rainforest, so everything is very lush. The hills look like they have been carpeted with trees and ferns. There are tree ferns, which can grow to 50 feet in height. From a distance, they look a little bit like palm trees. The Maori word for water is wai, so any name that begins with wai is referring to some body of water.

Tree ferns

Tree ferns

Nearby is the Karekare waterfall. Just a short hike from the road, and we were afforded the beautiful view of the water falling into a pool at the bottom.

Karekare  Waterfalls

Karekare Waterfalls

Last stop was at a black sand beach. It was dark but not really black like some beaches we’ve seen. The black sands are iron. If you use a magnet, you can pull the iron grains out of the rest of the sand. The beach looks out to the Tasman Sea. There were some good waves, and several surfers were taking advantage of them.

Tasman Sea

Tasman Sea

About kcbernick

I love to travel.
This entry was posted in New Zealand Travel and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s