Day 32 – February 6, 2015 – Friday – Auckland, New Zealand

Today is a national holiday in New Zealand, Waitangi Day. This day celebrates the signing of the treaty between the Maori people and the British which resulted is a lasting peace. Banks, government services and some business are closed. We left the ship early this morning and made our way the short distance to the next pier to board the ferry to the town of Devonport, across the harbor. The trip took about 15 minutes and cost $11.50 NZ round trip. When we left it was sunny and partly cloudy. In just 15 minutes the wind was howling and the rain pouring.

The ms Amsterdam at the pier as we left Auckland on the ferry to Devonport.

Just 15 minutes later at the pier in Devonport, the weather had turned nasty. We decided to wait in the terminal for the squall to pass, which it did in about 10 more minutes. The marine village of Devonort is just across the harbor from downtown Auckland. It is one of the city’s oldest suburbs. This picturesque Victorian village is a window into Auckland’s colonial past.

While at the ferry terminal, I took advantages of the facilities. Something Carl has made a motto of during our traveling, especially in South America. “Never pass up a baño, you NEVER know when the next one will be. This advice has served us well. Anyway, I felt there was a story in this photo. Perhaps if I had more time I could actually fabricate a tale to go with the picture. For now, the image will have to suffice…

As soon as the rain stopped, we started walking to our first destination, Mount Victoria. Devonport originally consisted of three volcanic cones: Mount Victoria to the west, North Head to the east and between them former Mount Cambria which was largely quarried away during the settlement of the area. On the way up the Mount, the sky cleared beautifully and gave this wonderful view of Auckland.

The Mounts have been the sights of fortifications for over 150 years although no actual battles were ever fought from these forts. Near the top of Mount Victoria we found this bunker which has been turned into the meeting place for the Devonport Folk Music Club which “Meets here every Monday 8:00 PM”. It is Auckland’s Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Club. The bunker had one side which has windows which open out to the harbor. I can only imagine what it would be like on a Monday evening to hear the music pour forth from this elevated site to flow over the surrounding area. I bet under the right conditions it could be heard all the way to Auckland!

This is a view from the bunker.

Higher up is another larger bunker at the summit of the Mount. The Kiwis have a scene of humor, all the ventilation shafts have been turned into a field of mushrooms like something from a Pac-Man video game.

Literally, five minutes after the previous photo was taken, we could see the rain coming from Auckland. While standing on the highest point of Mount Victoria, I captured this double rainbow (look to the far left for the faint second rainbow with reversed colors) on which seems to be resting on our ship the Amsterdam. I will check for the pot of gold when I get back to my cabin…

The New Zealanders are BIG on signs and I can’t help but take photos. Some are amusing, some are confusing and some are down right silly.

I wonder what a Travelwise School is?

Work ended for this crew a long time ago….

But… What is real food?

Ok Guys, this is where we would all like to live..

And this is our new retirement home..

Does this mean once you enter Jubilee you can never leave? Which might not be so bad except there is no access to the head… (sorry for so many bathroom jokes)

After leaving Mount Victoria, we walked about a mile to North Head, the second of the remaining volcanic cones in Devonport. North Head is not quite as tall as Mt. Victoria, but is larger. There is an extensive underground network of tunnels (which are not lighted, so the flashlight utility on my smartphone came in handy). This is the “famous” disappearing cannon. After being fired it could be lowered into the bunker. One of the first of its kind but it never saw action.

There were extensive trails or tracks as the Kiwis like to refer to them. It is hard to believe on such as small mountain, but we actually got lost. Of course in our defense there were no markings or directions.

Another nice view of Auckland Harbor.

We walked down to Cheltenham Beach where we saw this sign. There were many areas where liquor was banned at night although it was ok during the day. You better take this seriously, the fine can be up to $20,000. That would make an impression.

This photo and the one below is of a huge tree growing on the beach.

.

The New Zealanders are very ecologically minded. The streets were very clear and there was ample opportunities for recycling.

I loved this sign. The group in the background were playing cricket. At least playing golf against the law is not as costly as drinking alcoholic beverages on the beach at night.

While walking in Devonport, we were stopped several times by locals wanting to know if they could help us. The people are incredibly friendly. While walking down the sidewalk, Carl and I were greeted by an older man, pushing what I assumed was his grandchild in a stroller. He welcomed us to Devonport and commented on the weather. He then asked where we were from and we gave our usual answer Atlanta, GA. Oh, he said he had been to Atlanta, “couldn’t believe how many people were murdered there every night”. A great way to be remembered. As it turned out he had done some work in Jasper (only about 20 minutes from Canton, where we live). It really is a small world. He said he has lived and traveled all over the world but come back to New Zealand to raise his children because it was the best place he has ever been.

After returning to Auckland, Kay and I decided to have lunch at a local pub. I found one near the pier called Brew on Quay. The address was 102 Quay Street and they featured 102 beers from around the world.

I was looking for a New Zealand beer and found this one which was brewed in the English Bitters style. It complimented our fish and chips excellently. The fish were made from snapper not cod as we normally find in the northern climes. They were delicious. Served with tasty, freshly made, fries and a nice spring salad with vinaigrette dressing all for $21 NZ and best of all, we had a buy one main get one free coupon!. That made our meals cost about $7.00 US each.

Instead of opting for dessert I had another beer, the featured beer of the week. This one was brewed in Sussex, England and promised to be a true coffee flavored beer, and it was. Not a beer to drink every day, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was not a stout or a porter but truly a standard ale at about 3.7% ABV. Oh, by the way, the beers were not as inexpensive as the food… about $7 US each. Still the meal was a bargain.

After lunch we walked down the marina and gawked at the boats. The marine real-estate here is beyond belief.

The “Pride and Joy” Ice cream store featured “Joy” the cow you could milk!

The old Ferry Building was a good landmark to find our way back to our pier.

At the sail away this afternoon, the Captain and Hotel Manager hosted a complimentary food and drink party. They supplied wine and local NZ beers as well as food. I went up to the Lido deck but didn’t fill like fighting the crowd for snacks to ruin my diner. I did snag a couple of beers, one for myself and one for Kay. I selected a Monteith’s Summer Ale, a decent brew with ginger and honey flavors, but enough malt to balance the spices. I got an Export Gold by Morton Corutts for Kay. It was too light for me, but she liked it.

As we sailed out of the harbor, just past Devonport, we passed Rangitoto Island. It has an interesting short history. It was formed just within the past 1000 years and then decimated by imported wildlife. Only in the past 20 years have the pest been eradicated and flora reestablished on the island. It is of a true volcanic shape being so recently formed, unlike the surrounding lands.

We enjoyed the entertainment tonight, singer, actor and movie director Peter Cousens. Peter is the only Australian to play the Phantom on London’s West End and has just completed directing the Hollywood movie FREEDOM due for world wide release this year starring Cuba Gooding Jr.

Since we gain another hour tonight, we went to the Neptune Lounge to listen to the Amsterdam Orchestra perform. One of the great things about Holland’s Grand Voyages is you can enjoy their lounge entertainment without constantly being asked if you would like a drink. The staff gives you as much attention if you ask for a glass of water as they would if you purchased a bottle of their finest.

It will be a lazy day tomorrow, but its bedtime now…

Goodnight

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1 Response to Day 32 – February 6, 2015 – Friday – Auckland, New Zealand

  1. Teresa Ford says:

    I visited New Zealand 25 years ago and I had forgotten about Devonport until I saw your pictures! I stayed in a B&B in Auckland for a couple of days and then took a two day bus tour of the island. We visited a Maori village and a sheep farm and a glow-worm cave, and I ate my first Pavlova. Also saw my first kiwi (the bird, not the fruit!). Beautiful country!

    Like

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