From Orewa we started counting down the distance to Auckland. It was quite symbolic for us because we were returning to the place where we started our adventure just a month earlier. Usually we are not going back to the places we visit. We only see them once and carry on.
We left the campsite quite late for a change. We did not hurry because we aimed at a specific place at a specific time. Yes, we have to cross some water again. The mouth of the Okura River was 12km away, and the low tide was supposed to be after 4pm. The road was not very complicated so we gave ourselves enough time to be there one hour before the lowest water level. We took it seriously because we read comments about water reaching even to your chin. It’s rather swimming than fording. It might not work with our backpacks on. The road felt like very long, it was boring and unpleasant, walking on busy roads is not the nicest. Fortunately after the break we improved the pace and we arrived 40 minutes ahead of time. Everything secured, backpacks high, poles in our hands. We rolled up our sleeves and got to work. We found a place that looked the most convenient to pass and we crossed in a moment. The water reached only to the waist in the deepest place.
We organized the accommodation via Airbnb. The Chinese family, from whom we rented a room, recommended a cheap eatery with good noodles. Oh, it was so worth it! For 11 bucks each we got a great, spicy bowl of soup with beef. It was one of the best things we’ve eaten recently.
In the morning, the family, seeing that we are leaving without breakfast, quickly gave us two eggs and some toast bread. The weather looked promising but really hot. The path ran along the coast in front of the rich houses, sometimes on the cliffs, sometimes on the beaches. The value of some of the houses we passed was a well over a few million dollars. First row by the beach. What made a good impression on us is the fact that the space along the coast was available for residents all the time. Private areas were limited so that you could fit a bit of public space that everyone could use. And hell, they used it! Whether for a morning run, walking a dog or just to sit on a bench with a million-dollar view. We passed through a rich district of single-family houses (in NZ almost all houses are single-family houses). Public space was clearly of a higher quality, but people also cared for it. It was a nice walk in beautiful sunny weather.
We got on a ferry, which took us to the south side of the bay, to the CBD. From the water we had a good view on the city skyline with the characteristic Sky Tower. Unfortunately it became a bit cloudy, the nature of space changed and we got off the ferry in a slightly different atmosphere. We were slowly following the trail through the city, wondering where to stop for lunch.
The center of Auckland did not make the best impression on me. It’s just not interesting. Just like when I arrived, I did not feel that I was in a special place. Walkways that ended in strange places, wide streets, boring and often just any architecture – it’s hard to say that I was impressed.
However, what really charmed me is the amount of greenery in the city. And it’s diversity: green areas, parks in all sizes and for various purposes (gardens, recreation areas, sports fields, etc.), as well as small amenities like open BBQ, where people in the middle of the week just took a picnic after work. Great!
In Auckland, we planned two zero days. We booked the place where we spent the first days in New Zealand. We left there a computer and a few things that we wanted to send over to Wellington. We came to the house and when the owner opened the door, she was a bit surprised. It turned out that we arranged the wrong dates and we came one day too soon! But it was not a big deal, so we immediately initiated the “Zero Day” procedure: shower, beer, a lot of pizza and resting on our beds.
The next day we wanted to transfer our photos and videos, arrange the packages to Wellington and Whakahoro (before canoeing) and buy a couple of things. To top it off, we needed to catch up with Instagram and the blog that at the end I decided to translate to English. And, of course, somewhere in the meantime I had to rest… I think we were more productive than we should be on vacation.
I do not have that much to tell about Auckland. Well, the biggest city in Kiwiland, a couple of high-rise buildings, large and green suburbs, and yet people are moving out north. Great and accessible public space. European cities could pick up the idea of walking routes (“walkways”), in New Zealand cities there is a lot of them and they’re good quality. I think I would rather not want to live In the center of Auckland, but in a seaside district with smaller houses might work for me. I could ride a bike along the beach and walk the dog on various paths or trails among greenery.
The southern part of the city is not so attractive. There are differences in the wealth of the inhabitants. The trail also led that way. This is mainly an industrial part of the city. It wasn’t too pleasant to walk this way. Lots of roads, no sidewalks, heavy traffic, etc. The trail led us also around the peninsula where Ambury Park was located. We crossed there 600 km. In addition to camping sites there was something like an eco-farm with an educational function. After a short distance from the Sandringham district (about 10km), where we spent our zero days, we entered the park, pitched the tents, left the stuff and went on with one light backpack. We did it because we did not find another option for camping. We walked 25km and wanted to go back by bus. On the way we passed through sewage treatment plants, roads and a shopping center, where we ate… wait for it… Pizza! Pizza is never enough, especially when you need an astronomical amount of calories. We walked by the airport watching dozens of kiwiplanes landing along the way. In the end, we came to the bus stop and waited for transport. It was getting dark now and the bus that was supposed to take us back arrived late and did not even stop – “Not In Service”… We sat on the curb and waited for the next one. After about half an hour the next one appeared on the horizon. Will he stop? Yes! We got on the bus, bought tickets and we arrived. But… not where we wanted… I mean not yet. The bus finished the ride earlier than expected. We talked to the driver and he went to a friend on the other bus, explained the situation to him and the other driver drove us to where we wanted. The second driver, probably an emigrant from Malaysia, barely read in English, but it was enough to drive a bus. Great person by the way!
In total darkness we managed to reach the tents. On the way, of course, we missed the turn somewhere so we lost some time, but luckily not much. In the morning it turned out that Katrina, who we lost somewhere 150km earlier was camping next to us. We thought that after our few days off on Govan Wilson Rd and Auckland she would be a lot ahead of us. It turned out that she also had some problems, and besides, her parents live in Auckland so she stopped for a moment. After a short chat, we packed up and walked towards the bus stop. We wanted to start where we finished the previous evening. Let’s hit the road towards Hamilton!