In part of my retroactive diary tour of New Zealand, we are heading into Auckland…. New Zealand’s biggest city.
We come in close to Pukekohe near the bottom of the map (pronounced as “pook-ah-coe-ee“) and are later exit north on the road by the top of the map by Albany. This will necessitate crossing the Auckland Harbour via the Auckland Harbour Bridge, since it’s the short-cut route across the harbour.
The city is actually a merger of Manukau city and Manukau harbour on side, and Auckland city and Auckland harbour on the other.
Only a narrow band of land joins the landmass of Northland to the rest of the North Island … and the countries biggest city straddles this strip of land, so needless to say we aren’t looking forward to the traffic jams we think we might be in for.
Luckily after a stop in the city to see a family member, we manage to hit the road at a less busy time and somehow, miracle of miracles, without any great hassle or stops.
Of course upon reflection that fact that tomorrow is New Year’s Eve, that it’s the summer school holiday period and that many New Zealand businesses close between Christmas and New Year, probably had more to do with the lack of congestion than good timing on our part.
I remember trips to Auckland in my childhood, a South Island girl overawed by the existence of a motorway system that carried more traffic than I’d ever seen in my life before, I live of course with motorways now, in The Netherlands but I’m in Europe, so that seems kind of normal and expected with such a large population to move around, whereas I never got used to motorways in New Zealand and the sum total of one five kilometres long to the north of Christchurch really doesn’t count.
Auckland’s motorways were today more or less as I remembered them… but they’ve grown from the toddler sized network of my childhood into a full grown version today, so much so that I thought several times that we must surely be in Auckland city, long before we actually reached it.
This is one time we are very thankful for the TomTom we picked up from Teddy our favourite rental car owner before setting out for the North Island, during our travels throughout Auckland the thing is definitely paying it’s way.
The rain is still coming down in fits and starts and the cloud layer is very low, so we can’t even see the top of Auckland’s Sky Tower, … but we still get glimpses of the Auckland, and bridge and the marina’s around it that give it the nickname “the City of Sails”.
I didn’t notice it at the time, but after putting the photos onto the computer I saw that I’d captured an image of tourists walking over the top span of the Auckland Harbour Bridge… I’d love to be brave enough to do that one day but think that my head for heights (actually great lack of it) is rooted deep in my Dutch genes and since you know I’m accident prone, it’s another activity that I think might be safer to dream about than actually do.
Now that our Auckland appointment is out of the way, we head even further northward, Northland awaits…
Juxtaposition of the roof of a typical traditional New Zealand villa against a modern skyline… I might get nostalgic for the sight of a brick chimney too, since there are precious few left in Christchurch after the earthquakes.