Auckland, New Zealand
Yesterday I finally made it into Auckland – here for two days and not yet into the city may be a record for this trip. My hostel, Pentlands backpackers, is a few km away, so I walked, seeing what Lonely Planet meant about planners not being kind to the city. It’s a maze of flyovers and motorways just south of the city, and navigating through was fiddly. It’s also full of hills, but when you learn that it sits 100km above a large magma lake, with 50+ volcanic cones, you can understand why.
A walk in the sunshine took me to the centre and as I sat on a wharf, reading the guide book, I saw I was nearly at the end of Lonely Planet’s suggested city walk. I walked to the end, the Wynard quarter, very close to the centre but fairly run down until it was done up for the 2011 rugby World Cup, it now bustles with life. It was helped by that in being the venue for start, finish and transition of the 70.3 Ironman event taking place the next day. There were lots of grizzled looking people knocking around, I chatted to one about the route and where to watch, and spotted another trying and failing to subtly check my wrist for a ‘let me in’ band. I like to think I could pass for a triathlete, despite recent inactivity. I could certainly feel and enjoy the day-before excitement. It’s not that many years since that would have been utterly foreign to me, now perfectly normal.
Following the walking route showed me the sights, Albert park is another pretty city centre park. If they had a parkrun there I could consider a triplet of Albert parkruns, though it would be a beast of a course. It is small, so would be multiple laps, with as much up and down as flat. It might out-Barnsley the Barnsley course.
To one side of the park is the university, with attractive clock tower, and nearby the large Civic, centre for the arts and cinema. Eventually I made my way back, resolving to head back in on Sunday morning to see some triathlon and complete the coast to coast walk, which has its startpoint marked by the wharf.
Sunday came and I didn’t bother. Triathlon isn’t that exciting to watch, plus it starts early. If I were up for running, a 16km route would be perfect, but walking it was preferable to start where I was, a few km in, and get to Mount Eden for my start. So the start of my walk was uphill, rewarded with great views all round in the sun. I could see the obelisk on One Tree Hill away in the distance. It’s not far as the crow flies, and I’d been there for parkrun only a day before, but seeing it now as a marker on the way to the south coast it looked a fair way.
Down, then up, and on to the obelisk. More great views once I got up there – I was following coast to coast walk arrows, not spotting that the ascent was an optional extra and not signed. As a result I went round the hill and then climbed up sheep tracks to get up. They work hard, sheep. Worth it, though, and the coast really wasn’t far from here. Just after the hill is a town, with a cluster of cafés and fast food joints. I’d recommend holding on for half a mile or so, there’s another cafe which looked much nicer. The Pak n Save will do the job otherwise.
The walk route is scenic, and with my additions it was nearly 16km as I reached the end – which is a nature reserve right on the coast, but without a view of same, as the motorway occupies prime spot right by the coast. The views from up high will have to do you.
It’s possible to get a bus back from nearby, but I walked. Without the volcanic cone distractions, it was only 6km or so back to the hostel, no wonder it hadn’t looked far from the top of the hill. The signs are reasonably well laid out, though at some intersections I found myself stopping, finding the sign directing people on the opposite route, and working out from that where they would be coming from, which is where I had to go. Had I been running it would have been hard to follow, though as a result I’d probably just have cut the whole thing short; the direct route is some way shorter than 16km, make sure you include the hills for the full experience. Minor highlight – pausing to check a map and picking up someone’s wireless network, name “Pretty fly for a wifi”.
“A predestined aptitude for doing something objectionable.”
Reading: Bleak House.