Ready In Auckland
I've spent the past few days at the Amberley B&B in the Auckland suburb of
Devonport getting ready for my road trip around New Zealand
trip, and the proprietors, Mary and Michael Burnett, have done their best to
assimilate into the Kiwi culture. Listening to
them talk, I'm even getting used to the Kiwi accent, which is pleasant but hard to describe
-- it's like an English accent but "Yes" is pronounced "Yiss" and "check" is
is a beautiful historic town on the north side of the bay with a passenger ferry linking
it to Auckland. After spending a few days in Devonport, I hopped on the
ferry, crossed the bay, and 20 minutes later was walking around downtown
Auckland. I stopped by my company's Auckland office around noon and gave
them a PowerPoint
slide show on the Portland office and some scenic places in America. The 20-or-so folks in the office
were very kind, some giving me their phone numbers and telling me to call if I
got into any trouble while in New Zealand.
the slide show, I spent a couple of hours walking around downtown Auckland, a city
of about a million and half people and the largest city in New Zealand.
I've visited most major cities in the U.S. and of those cities, Auckland reminds me
the most of Seattle
(other than the balmy climate, palm trees, and tattooed Maories,
of course). It's a little smaller than Seattle, but
it's hilly, is on the waterfront, and is vibrant with an
ethnically-diverse population and a cosmopolitan feel.
Above left: After a few days in Devonport, I
hopped on the ferry to Auckland and spent a day checking it out.
Above center: I
stopped at the Parsons Brinckerhoff office in Auckland for an hour to give a
Above right: The old and the new in downtown
has the Space Needle, Auckland has the Sky Tower, which was built as a tourist attraction
a few years ago and is currently the tallest tower in the southern
hemisphere. For $8, you can ride the elevators to the top and get a
spectacular 360-degree view of the city sprawling beneath. Some of the
floor panels on the viewing deck are clear plastic, which made me a bit
queasy to walk on since I could see 600 feet straight down to the
sidewalk. Several little kids were vigorously jumping up and down on the clear floor panels,
but I'm not sure what they were trying to accomplish!
Not surprisingly, they
play a lot of New Zealand music on the radio stations here.
Here's the Kiwi group, Crowded House, singing Don't Dream, It's
Over. New Zealanders were surprised when I told them that
it had been a big hit in the U.S.
RealPlayer. If problems, see
I prepared for my two-month drive around New Zealand, I made a list of all the
things I'd need, such as a cooler, folding chair, small folding table, and campstove
fuel (called "shellite" over here). With my typical-American attitude, I figured that I'd just drop
by the nearest "Target"-like store to pick up everything I
After talking about this with my hosts Mary and Michael, however, I learned
that New Zealand doesn't have many large discount stores like that. Instead,
as they told me, small, specialized
shops are much more common here. Finally,
they suggested that I try a store called The Warehouse, located several miles away.
Come to think of it, I'd been hearing radio ads for The Warehouse during my past
few days in Auckland (with their irritating jingle: "The Warehouse, The Warehouse, Where
everyone gets a bargain"), but I wasn't really sure exactly what it was.
drove down to The Warehouse that morning and got
most of what I needed, but as
I've been cruising around the Auckland area these past few days, I realized that
Mary and Michael were right. The shopping situation in New Zealand is
similar to what is was in America, say, 40 years ago, before the giant discount
stores started taking over. O.K., being a foreigner and not knowing my way
around Auckland, I admit that the Warehouse came in handy for me this time, but
these types of big-box stores do come at a price. I
hope things in New Zealand stay the way it is now, with lots of small, friendly
Mom-and-Pop type stores. So Wal-Mart, please keep out.
Above left: The Sky Tower dominates the
Auckland skyline. It was completed a few years ago and is the highest
structure in the southern hemisphere.
Above center: For
about $8, you can ride to the top and get a magnificent view.
Above right: The Auckland harbor from the Sky
Above left: There's only one freeway in Auckland
("The Motorway"). Maybe that's a good thing.
Above center: Auckland
is called "The City of Sails." Here's the Auckland marina. As every Kiwi will proudly tell you, Auckland is
currently the home of the America's Cup.
Above right: They give walking tours of the
Harbor Bridge, and I hope to do it when I get back here next month.
Above left: Looking straight down.
Above center: And, on the sidewalk, looking straight up.
Above right: Street scene in Auckland.
Above left: Gee, how do Kiwis really feel
Above center: On
the ferry boat back to Devonport. That's Mt. Victoria, one of many dormant
volcanoes in the Auckland area, in the background. Portland is the only
city in the U.S. that has a volcano within its city limits... and it has only one. Auckland has over a dozen.
Above right: Devonport is a picturesque
historic suburb and, like many
small towns in New Zealand, it's vibrant with lots of little shops right next to each other on long
blocks. As I'm discovering, this is the typical pattern in small New
Zealand towns, unlike the average American small town with a decaying downtown
and a Wal-Mart on the outskirts.
New Zealand's Geography and History in a Nutshell
I've been in New
Zealand for almost a week now. When I haven't been getting ready for my
trip, I've been studying up on this country and poring over maps and photos, so I couldn't wrap this page up without a brief lesson
on New Zealand's geography and history. Being an American, Iíll probably mess this
up a bit but here goes. First, the
Zealand is a country about as large as Oregon with about as many people,
around 4 million. There are two major islands here that are named, not too
imaginatively, the North Island and the South Island.
The North Island,
which is conveniently located north of the South Island, has about twice as many people as the South
Island. The North Island also has the largest city, Auckland, and
the capital, Wellington. The North Island is quite volcanic as
opposed to the South Island, which has a lot of alpine scenery, farms, fields... and
sheep. Except in the mountains,
the New Zealand climate on both islands is pretty mild with coastal high temperatures during the summertime
(that's now) typically between 70 and 80 degrees. I've worn shorts and
t-shirts every day that I've been here so far, but I guess I didn't need to
mention that for those of you Americans who are suffering through blizzards and
Now for a
little history. The islands were settled by Maoris (pronounced "MOW-rees") who migrated here from the
South Pacific, including the Cook Islands, where I had just come from. I
always figured the Maoris settled in New Zealand first and then moved on to
the islands in the South Pacific but it was just the opposite. The Maoris
in general were (and are) a strong and independent people.
Captain James Cook, the first European to explore New Zealand.
European to discover New Zealand was the Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman, who named
it in honor of the Zeeland province in Holland.
Tasman discovered New
Zealand in the 1600s but Europeans left New Zealand alone for the next hundred
years when Captain James Cook, who
made several remarkable explorations of the South Pacific between 1769 and 1778,
explored the country and claimed New Zealand and Australia for England.
I had stumbled across
Cook's journals when I was in college several years ago and spent many evenings in the U.C. Irvine
library reading about Cook's discoveries in New Zealand, Australia and elsewhere
in the Pacific when I probably should have been studying for my midterms. Cook was really a remarkable explorer and he even visited
the Oregon coast once -- that was shortly before he was killed in Hawaii.
In fact, I had crossed paths
with Captain Cook in June on my trip down the Oregon coast (see News:
June 14, 2001).
in New Zealand began in the early 1800s, not by convicts as in Australia but
mostly by farmers and miners, hence New Zealand's more genteel culture. Although there were some conflicts with the
natives, Maoris in general were assimilated into the white society here more
smoothly than the aborigines were in Australia, and much more smoothly than the
Indians were in the U.S.
The Maori culture is still very strong in New
Zealand, much more so than the Indian culture is in the U.S. In fact, most
place names in New Zealand seem to be Maori names, and you see Maoris all around
the North Island and a bit less so on the South Island. Most Maori names have three or four
syllables, often alternating vowels with consonants -- and they really crack me up. Unlike English place-names, though,
I can't seem to remember the Maori place-names very well, probably because of the
various combinations of puka's, rangi's, roa's, and papa's, like "Papakoura,"
"Paparoa," and my favorite, "PapaMurphy" (that's a pizza
chain in the U.S. -- some culinary humor -- or "humour," as they say here in New
in balmy Auckland for a few days now and one of the strangest things to remember
is that Christmas is coming up soon. Because I've lived in the Midwest and
Northwest for many years, it just doesn't seem like Christmas without snow,
clouds, rain, and cold weather. In fact, it feels like August now so I
don't think spending Christmas alone this year, which will be my first Christmas
alone, will be a big deal.
December 20, marked the beginning of the summer school holiday season.
Summer vacation for kids here lasts only 6 weeks until the end of January,
instead of three months as in the U.S. Summer vacation here coincides, of
course, with Christmas and New Year's, which makes this an especially hectic time
of year, with lots of Kiwis taking off for a couple weeks or more (as I've
learned, Kiwis get quite a bit more vacation time than
Americans). Summer vacation also coincides almost exactly with my
planned visit to New Zealand, something I won't do again in the future. I
think next time I come here, it'll be either in November, February or March.
really looking forward to traveling around New Zealand between Christmas and New Year's,
but I'll see what the
highway, campground, and lodging situation is like after I leave here
tomorrow, heading south. I'm going to get down to the South Island as fast
as I can, where things will hopefully be a little less crazy.
Above left: Auckland from the Mt.
Victoria volcano in Devonport.
Above center: The
Above right: A sweaty Santa. Merry
24, 2001 (Wellington, New Zealand)
16, 2001 (Auckland, New Zealand)
14, 2001 (Aitutaki, Cook Islands)
10, 2001 (Rarotonga, Cook Islands)
3, 2001 -- Part 2 (Bellingham, Washington)
3, 2001 -- Part 1 (Bellingham, Washington)
18, 2001 -- Part 3 (Bismarck, North Dakota)
18, 2001 -- Part 2 (Bismarck, North Dakota)
18, 2001 -- Part 1 (Bismarck, North Dakota)
6, 2001 (Fort Lincoln State Park, North Dakota)
30, 2001 -- Part 2 (Bismarck, North Dakota)
30, 2001 -- Part 1 (Bismarck, North Dakota)
September 15, 2001 (Bismarck, North Dakota)
30, 2001 (Webster, South Dakota)
18, 2001 (Watertown South Dakota)
17, 2001 (Walnut Grove, Minnesota)
14, 2001 (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
10, 2001 (Battle Creek, Michigan)
8, 2001 (12 Days in Syracuse: Part 2)
8, 2001 (12 Days in Syracuse: Part 1)
6, 2001 (Manlius, New York)
23, 2001 (Middleton, Massachusetts)
22, 2001 (Boston, Massachusetts)
20, 2001 (Pomfret, Connecticut)
18, 2001 (Denton, Maryland)
16, 2001 (Cumberland, Virginia)
14, 2001 (Roanoke, Virginia)
9, 2001 (Sevierville, Tennessee)
8, 2001 (Fontana Lake, North Carolina)
5, 2001 (Manchester, Tennessee)
30, 2001 (Hohenwald, Tennessee)
29, 2001 (Corinth, Mississippi)
27, 2001 (Natchez, Mississippi)
24, 2001 (Austin, Texas)
20, 2001 (Canyon de Chelly, Arizona)
18, 2001 (Clay Canyon, Utah)
15, 2001 -- Part 2 (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)
15, 2001 -- Part 1 (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)
14, 2001 (San Diego, California)
11, 2001 (San Jose, California)
2, 2001 (Bellingham, Washington)
19, 2001 (Hillsboro, Oregon)
30, 2001 (Hillsboro, Oregon)
19, 2001 (Bellingham, Washington)
5, 2001 (Bellingham, Washington)
* * * * * * *
Travels (2001-02) >
New Zealand Trip
> December 20, 2001