Friday had me in Auckland for another day. Freddy, Elaine and Maya were getting in early that morning, and I had told him that I’d stick around to catch up a bit with him before I took off on Saturday for the real adventure. Even though they rolled in very early, I planned a few other things to do to fill up my day, since it would be my last Auckland touristy day before hitting the dusty trails. My first problem in the morning was that I had no way to get a hold of them. Kevin doesn’t have a home phone. Not a problem for a resourceful lad like me though, I just got set for my day, then biked over to their parents house where they were staying. Luckily I had the address, so I found my way. I rolled in around 10am. They had just had a little nap, so my timing was relatively good. I stuck around for a little bit, posted some blog entries, then headed out alone for downtown again, read on for what I did. You can also check out the map that I threw together as well.
It was another beautiful day, so I decided that I might as well head up the Sky Tower, which still remains the tallest tower in the Southern Hemisphere. Now, admittedly, the CN Tower is still much taller, but given the Auckland skyline and surrounding volcanoes, it was certainly nothing to sneeze at. Before heading up, I found a nearby bike shop, where I picked up an orange safety flag for my bike. As a bonus, the guys there said I could leave my bike with them while I did the tower thing, which would be safer than locking it up. Good deal by my estimation! Buy a flag, get free bike sitting.
At the tower, I first bought a Budget Backpacker Hostels card for $45, which gave me $8 off tower admission, as well as $20 of calling card calling, and numerous other deals for backpackers. I also popped into an ATM to take out my first week’s allowance. Hopefully it lasts. Although the tower offers a few daredevil stunts like the sky jump and sky walk, I opted to simply go up to the observation deck, as well as the extra 9 floors up to the Sky Deck. The views were outstanding, and if you find yourself in Auckland, I highly suggest stopping in and up! I also endorse my next stop.
After Sky Tower, I picked my bike up again, and headed down to the waterfront to buy a round trip to Devonport, a 12 minute ferry crossing. No charge for my bike either. I had a half hour to kill, so made my way back to the Hobson West Marina, where the REALLY big and beautiful boats moor. I lusted after a few of the 85 ft yachts, until eventually a crewman came out of one to get something from a car. I cornered him and asked how he got to be crew. He said he was an engineer, and went to Spain, where a lot of these boats pick up crew, so he lucked into the gig.
I also asked if they get out much, since some of those boats spend lots of time docked. Ironically, he said they just came back from Canada, Victoria specifically. We chatted about Canada, and I told him I’m from the east coast, and he said the first mate was actually from Halifax. Also, the owner was Canadian! Which Canadian you ask? Well, none other than the old owner of Tim Hortons. Small friggin world, isn’t it? I got the feeling that I might have been able to get a tour of the boat, but I had a ferry to catch, so I bid the lad adieu, and rolled back to the ferry. Funny story, eh?
Anyway, Devonport. This is one of the points just across from Auckland, and served as a naval base and watch post for many many years. My best comparison of it would be something like Citadel Hill in Halifax, but on steroids in some respects. North Head is where the main base was, and there still remains tons of things to explore all over that piece of land, and it’s pretty open to you to explore. Luckily, I had a flashlight, and was able to even do some tunnel exploration, where the munitions were stored, etc. There were also some remaining guns to check out. And of course, like most high points in Auckland, this area is home to two volcano cones at least as well. So of course, I did plenty more climbing on the bike today. Both Auckland maps show that I ascended over 2km. They seemed fine, but I’d soon learn better.
After Devonport, I hurried back to Kevins to grab a quick shower, as I had been invited for a BBQ at the Friesens that evening. We had corn on the cob, burgers, salad, ice cream, and a few drinks. It was another great meal, and allowed me the time to post all my pictures to date, although they had to be compressed to get it done. Hope you like them. We also played some more Wii, but Freddy and Elaine were pretty bushed. Eventually, everyone went to bed, and it was just Kevin and I. I sort of forced him to stay a little longer so I could finish my uploading. Thanks Kevin! Then it was off to bed for us too, as I had my trip to start the next day!