Category Archives: Auckland Exploration

Sky Tower

Before we left Auckland, we needed to go up Sky Tower, which is the most obvious feature of the Auckland skyline. The best way to do that is go up and eat a lunch at the top floor. It was a surprisingly cool place to have lunch, effectively on a giant lazy susan, and the lunch was actually good and not too expensive. On a clear day I would highly recommend Sky Tower for lunch if you’re touring around Auckland.

Plus the waiters were quite nice and took some pictures of us :)

Plus the waiters were quite nice and took some pictures of us :).

One Last Waiheke Trip

Our favorite thing to do for the weekend when we lived in Auckland was to go and hang out on Waiheke Island. It is only a 30 minute ferry ride from down town Auckland, and there is plenty to do with in a reasonable walk of the ferry terminal. And even more to do within an unreasonable walk :). Plus, Jasmine found a cool website, BookaBach, so you can rent out peoples’ summer home for a reasonable price for a weekend stay. I highly recommend Waiheke to anyone going to Auckland for a while.

In our last trip, we did the usual Waiheke jaunt of hanging out at the beach, going for some wine tasting, and walking through the bush. It was as fun as always, and I think by the end we walked on about 80% of the tramping tracks on the island. So we enjoyed ourselves that weekend.

We got to a cool overlook and decided to take a picture of the two of us, as they are lacking in the blog

We got to a cool overlook and decided to take a picture of the two of us, as they are lacking in the blog.

And a view of the Thomas batch winery. We walked the 10k there from out hotel.

And a view of the Thomas Batch winery. We walked the 10 k there from our bach.

Cows on the hill in the path. This is very common in NZ. This is also a bit scary when it is a large herd

Cows on the hill in the path. This is very common in NZ. This is also a bit scary when it is a large herd.

I'm a sucker for waterfalls. Even small ones

I’m a sucker for waterfalls. Even small ones.

And a artistic shot for the hell of it.

And an artistic shot for the hell of it.

Rangitoto & Motutapu

In our effort to visit as many islands as possible in the Hauraki Bay we took the ferry back to Rangitoto. But in this case the objective was not to hike up the volcano, but to go to Motutapu, the adjoining island. The island are actually connected when it is low tide, and amusingly we walked on the beach between the two in the morning, but on the way back we had to take the small bridge back onto Rangitoto.

Given their proximity, I can’t imagine two islands that seemed more different. Rangitoto is mostly still volcanic rock and scree fields with some lush forests pushing through the rock. But Motutapu is rolling hills covered in grass and is mostly used as a pasture for cows and sheep. It was a fun study in contrast, and also a study in walking too far, as we went from the ferry terminal on Rangitoto out the the furthest point on Motutapu, Billy Goat point. A total of 30 km in 5.45 hrs, as the winter ferry timetable only has you on the island for 6 hours. One day we will choose a reasonable hiking pace and speed, but that day is not today :).

Rangitoto rocky hike.

Rangitoto’s rocky hike.

Rangitoto forest hike

Rangitoto’s forest hike.

Motutapu hills hike. This is looking over the trail, which is just grass. It grow so quickly and there are so few hikers on this spur.

Motutapu’s hills hike. Only 3 km from the previous picture. This is looking over the trail, which is just grass. It grows so quickly and there are so few hikers on this spur that the trail is marked by posts, which I think of as a snow measure.

And the northern bays of Motutapu. I would like to be here in the summer for some swimming and oceanside camping, if it were allowed.

The northern bays of Motutapu with some native bush. I would like to be here in the summer for some swimming and ocean-side camping – if it were allowed.

And looking North from an old WWII lookout and spotting platform which litter the hills of Motutapu.

And looking North from an old WWII lookout and spotting platform which litter the hills of Motutapu. Now used for spotting sheep.

Auckland War Memorial Museum

Before we headed out of Auckland, we made sure to visit the War Memorial Museum in the Auckland Domain as we were told it was worth a tour. And that is correct. It was mostly about Maori and Polynesian culture, and then a war memorial for WWI, WWII, and other conflicts that NZ was involved in. We probably spent an equal time in both parts, but all the pictures are from the Maori/Polynesian wing as, quite frankly, there are World War museums everywhere.

I’d say that it is worth it to check it out if you are in Auckland on a rainy day.

I can tell a gardening tool when I see one. Even if it is a thousand years old and made of stone.

I can tell a gardening tool when I see one. Even if it is a thousand years old and made of stone.

There were some interesting romantic portraits of Maori Chiefs. I chose to share the Waka builder for obvious reasons.

There were some interesting romantic portraits of Maori Chiefs. I chose to share the Waka builder for obvious reasons.

And a cute little crab claw rigged catamaran (technically a Waka - ama). Looks like it would be fun to sail even today.

And a cute little crab claw rigged catamaran. Looks like it would be fun to sail even today.

They had a whole house inside the museum. You had to take your shoes off first. My mother would get along well with the Maori by that standard.

They had a whole house inside the museum. You had to take your shoes off first. My mother would get along well with the Maori by that standard.

And lots of well done, and in some cases extremely old tapestry and fibre work. This was made with shell as beads and was my favorite of the works.

And lots of well done, and in some cases extremely old tapestry and fibre work. This was made with shells as beads and was my favorite of the works.

Queen’s Birthday at the Track

We had been told that one of the cool kid things to do in Auckland on the Queen’s Birthday was to go to the horse races at the Ellerslie racetrack, so we decided that to check it out. We got some tickets to the Ascot Stand and dressed up all fancy for the races and decided to make a day of it.

Jasmine got to wear her fascination in an appropriate situation!

Jasmine got to wear her fascinator in an appropriate situation!

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I also classed it up for the racetrack.

As it turns out, and as you might be able to tell from the pictures above, it was not actually that crowded at the races on the Queen’s Birthday. With the stands only about 20% full, it was a different atmosphere than the other time we were at Ellerslie, but still quite fun. My main problem was that I am not good at gambling and we ended up down at the end of the day. I only won 1 of the 10 bets I placed which was sad. But we had fun and we will probably check out horse racing again in the future.

I picked the Quinella right on this race!

I picked the Quinella right on this race!

 

Duder Regional Park

Another weekend went by where Jasmine and I had access to a rental car – at least for Saturday morning. We decided to take advantage of it by driving out east and checking out the parks in East Auckland. As it turns out, there are some quite nice parks on the eastern coast and I was glad to get to see them. We managed to have a couple of short hikes at Duder Regional Park and Omana Regional Park. It was a pleasant day and it was quite nice to finally see what the mainland looks like across the straight from Waiheke.

As per our contract with the picture deities of N Zed land here is the obligatory panorama.

As per our contract with the picture deities of N Zed land, here is the obligatory panorama.

We get some nice rolling hills and ocean views. Plus portrait format for a change.

We got some nice rolling hills and ocean views. Plus portrait format for a change.

And this is the picture every 8 year old draws when they try to draw hills.

And this is the picture every 8 year old draws when they try to draw hills.

There was a slight cow based trail block. We had to jump the fence to bypass the cows.

There was a slight cow-based trail block. We had to jump the fence to bypass the cows.

And I will leave you with a pleasant ocean view.

And I will leave you with a pleasant ocean view.

Helensville?

With a rental car for the weekend, Jasmine and I decided to go northwest and check out Helensville and the South Head. It is very surprising how quickly it turns into countryside outside of Auckland and it is nice to have a car so that we can get into the countryside occasionally. We made three stops: Helensville, Shelly Beach, and Te Rau Puriri. Helensvile is a small town with a couple of cafes and is worth a little walk around just to soak in the pastoralness.

Shelly Beach was a quite pleasant peninsula with a bit of a little walk by the beach and a small Bach community. On the plus side, we also got to go to a tasty cafe right on the beach for lunch, so there is always that. :)

There is Fishing!

There is fishing!

And a pretty beach!

And a pretty beach!

And a tractor with a boat trailer at the wharf. This is as NZ as you can get.

And a tractor with a boat trailer at the wharf. This is as NZ as you can get.

And, finally, Te Rau Puriri was a delightful walk in the country side. It poured down on us while we walked around a very green (and slippery) hill side while surrounded by sheep and in view of the ocean. So about as NZed as I can get. :)

It is an Airstrip. Something pleasant about a grass field for airplanes.

It is an airstrip. Something pleasant about a grass field for airplanes.

And the requisite panorama :)

And the requisite panorama. :)

Te Atatu

Just to the west of Auckland, across the Waitemata Harbor from our house, is the Te Atatu Peninsula. It seems to be the standard used to be rural area next to a big city and is now turning into luxury apartments because there is open space!!! In any case, we biked over and hung out on the periphery where there is a delightful narrow group of parks that wrap around most of the 10 km of the edge of the peninsula. So all in all a delightful gravel path to bike on with views of the harbor most of the way. And to top it off, it is only a 8 km ride on a cycleway from our house. So yeah, we’ll be going again.

As always just in the distance you can make out Sky Tower.

As always, just in the distance you can make out Sky Tower.

The aforementioned pretty harbor views.

The aforementioned pretty harbor views.

It is fall! And we get pretty colour changing deciduous trees! I clearly lived in CA too long.

It is fall! And we get pretty colour changing deciduous trees! I clearly lived in CA too long.

I actually took this picture while cycling. Probably not safe, but fun.

I actually took this picture while cycling. Probably not safe, but fun.

1 meter wide path, lets put a 3 meter deep cliff on the side! No worries.

1 meter wide path; let’s put a 3 meter deep cliff on the side! No worries.

Waiheke – Rocky Bay

For the ANZAC long weekend, Jasmine and I decided to rent out a bach on Waiheke and do a bit of hiking and a bit of wine tasting. Since we had been to the west, north, and east of the island, only one direction remained – South! And, as it turned out, we saved the best direction for last. Rocky Bay was quiet and peaceful, close to a number of wineries, and there was a bunch of great hiking in the area, especially in Whakanewha Park.

And we have now gone to about 12 of the 20 wineries on the island, with a favorite so far of Jurassic Ridge. Not quite as crazy as all of the Santa Clara parks, but something. :) Overall, we had a delightful weekend and we will certainly be going back to Waiheke again.

This is the largest spider I have seen in NZ. not quite a tarantula, but it is something.

This is the largest spider I have seen in NZ. Not quite a tarantula, but it is something.

Overlooking ANZAC bay on ANZAC day.

Overlooking ANZAC Bay on ANZAC Day.

And another panoramic view looking east from Jurassic Ridge. Waiheke is nothing but Panoramic views.

And another panoramic view looking east from Jurassic Ridge. Waiheke is nothing but panoramic views.

The bay to the west of our rented Bach. The sailors on that boat were living it up fishing all day, it looked like fun.

The bay to the west of our rented bach. The sailors on that boat were living it up fishing all day; it looked like fun.

One leaping jasmine! Some of our trails were questionably trails.

One leaping Jasmine! Some of our trails were questionably trails.

And one pensive Jasmine. It rained a fair bit on Sunday but we were in the forest for most of it,  so just a light drizzle for us.

And one pensive Jasmine. It rained a fair bit on Sunday, but we were in the forest for most of it. So just a light drizzle for us.

Auckland Harbor Swim

As it turns out, there are quite a number of people in Auckland just as crazy as I am and they have an open water swim series throughout the summer/fall. So I decided to get a bit better at my swimming and give it a try. The first swim was from Herne Bay to the Chelsea Sugar Factory 2.4 km across the bay, and I swam it this weekend.

The swim started at 6:45 am so, unfortunately, I had to wake up at 4:45 am to walk over to the swim, which was sad. On the other hand there were 400 or so other people to hang out with predawn waiting for the swim to start. The weather was pretty awesome: sunny and with only a 15 knot wind, thus perfect for swimming in the open water. Sadly, I am a slow swimmer and it took me an hour to make the 2.4 km distance, which put me in the back third of the swimmers. But I had fun and I will certainly do another swim; hopefully, I will get a little faster so I am less sad about my relative speed. :(

This is the start meeting. It was early in the morning.

This is the start meeting. It was early in the morning.

And the finish line after I got out of the water, quite a beautiful morning.

And the finish line after I got out of the water; quite a beautiful morning.

Jasmine and I went for a little hike over in the northbay which made for a delightful day.

Jasmine and I went for a little hike over in the North Shore which made for a delightful day.