. My favourite thing I saw as a group of six young Muslim girls who had made cupcakes and brought them to the harbour, placed them on a tiered cupcake tray and after taking pictures dove into the cupcakes with such joy it was difficult to to smile. Fast forward three days and I was returning late again into Auckland, this time from the North of the Island (see previous blog) but not much was seen or done the first night except hanging around the hostel. The next day the skies seemed to be holding off so I walked back down to the harbour and caught the ferry over to Rangitoto Island, Auckland's youngest volcano at only 600 years old. There are many little walks that can be done on the Island and I chose to do the 1hr trek to the Summit. It was neat to be walking on and amongst volcanic stone and admired the density of the forest that covers much of island. Pushing myself to get a little exercise in, I hoofed it up and made it to the top in 40mins. After looking at views from the summit both back towards land and sea, and the crater of the volcano that is total covered by trees and bush, I decided to try and make the next ferry that was arriving in 45 minutes otherwise I would be stuck on the island for another 2.5 hrs with nothing to do and nowhere to go. So I ran most of the way back down in about 20 minutes which lead to sparing some time to tack on another few of the walks on the way back to the ferry. Returning back to mainland I indulged in a little retail therapy and got myself a much needed bathing suit, only after trying on about 50 different ones..ugh what a chore
! In the evening, I met up with the twins, two girls from Scotland on my South Island bus and some of the folks I met on the Top of the North trip at the Fat Camel bar where we were going to take part in the pub crawl; four bars, four drinks for ten dollars. At first we thought it was going be very lame as no one was really there but then very quickly crowds of people arrived at there was easily 100 people going pub crawling. The Fat Camel was the first bar of the crawl so spent a long amount of time playing games to win prizes of various kinds. Then it was literally up the street to the next place which seemed to have no name, and was very dark but had some good music. The third bar was called the Dingdong Lounge, a small narrow bar that was crowded just with the pub crawl people. After spending some time here, and having an ok time but not a great time, the twins and I decided to bail on the fourth bar and head for bed, after sharing some McDonald’s fries on the side of the road and saying our final goodbyes.
The next day I mostly walked around town doing some errands and a treat of a 30 minute massage from one of those Thai massage places in a shopping centre. I have to say it was probably one of the best massages I’ve ever had for the fraction of the price I usually pay and I felt like million bucks afterwards
. Grabbing a coffee I decide to hanging out in Albert Park for a spell before trying to get down to some serious blog writing, which in the end I didn’t get to as I was sidetracked with watching some episodes of Coronation Street on YouTube, but the intent was there. Just as I was about to leave for the evening it started to seriously rain ruining my plan of walking out to Parnell and instead had to make my way by bus. Tonight I was going to have dinner with some old friends of my Mom and Dads who used to live in Toronto back in the late seventies. It was a really lovely evening, enjoying a home cooked meal and getting re-acquainted with Lydia and Ian who I still recognize and their daughter Meg who I remember playing with but did not recognize and her two children Molly and Archie. I also had my first taste of feijoa, which is a fruit not native to New Zealand as it is from South America, but widely available here. And it happens to feijoa season where all the feijoa's are ripe so there is a mad dash to eat as many, give as many or sell as many as you can quickly because they don’t last very long. You eat it much like a kiwi fruit and the taste, well it’s hard to describe but to me it taste likes a type of candy or an ingredient in candy. It’s definitely a taste that you either love or hate. I wouldn’t say I love it but I haven’t turned down any free offers on feijoas. My last day in Auckland was spent doing laundry in the morning and then putting my trust into the weather, I decided to take the ferry to Devonport for the afternoon/evening
. Devonport is another suburb of Auckand but has a small coastal town feel to it and supposedly some of the best views of the Auckland skyline. My plan was to wander away the afternoon and then head up to the top of Mt. Victoria at dusk to get some pictures of the skyline at night. My plan was going pretty well except the walk around town took shorter than expected but made it longer by following the shouts of rugby match and watched the last twenty minutes of the game. Still not quiet dusk I decided to head up to Mt. Victoria a little early with the intention of just hanging out there for awhile. Here is where my plan really started taking a turn for the worst, Just as I was starting up the road to Mt. Victoria it started to rain, just small drops at first but then about halfway up I had to take cover under some trees in attempt to not get completely soaked in my rain jacket. When the rain let up a little I continued to the top in hopes that there was some shelter up there. Indeed there was but it had no view,as it was down below ground in an old cannon roundabout as Mt. Victoria used to be a fort. After waiting for about 20 minutes and the rain not letting up I decided to skip the night skyline idea and head back down and catch the ferry back to the mainland. This ended up being a good decision because the rain did not let up for the rest of the night and the clouds had rolled in covering much of the skyline. Auckland’s been a good place to land my feet for a few days, get a few errands done, do some activities and relax, but I’m ready to move on and check out some more of the coasts of the South Island.
Arriving in Auckland after an 11 hour bus trip from Wellington I was in a desperate need of a walk so decided to walk down the street from the hostel and check a bit of the downtown area and the harbour. This was a bit of a fact finding mission to see what there is to do when I return in three' days' time for a longer visit. Walking down Queen St into the CBD I noticed straight away how much more multi-cultural Auckland is compared to anywhere else I've visited in New Zealand on this trip. There are many Asians from China, Japan, and even India, stemming from the immigration floodgates in the late 80-s early 90's. It was refreshing to see some familiar culture again and nice to have options of Sushi, Chinese, India, Middle Eastern available if I wanted. Reaching the harbour I had a good wander around and was instantly impressed of all the activity going on and could really feel a vibe, even though the sun was setting and it was a breezy night. Aside from the many million dollar yachts available for me to drool on, there are some great features of the harbour area such as these huge giant wooden deck chairs that could easy fit ten people lying down, and a storage container full of books with a living room set up outside, under a canopy, for anyone to stop a read a book