A Travellerspoint blog

New Zealand

Auckland, New Zealand

Kindly Kiwis

sunny 82 °F

Auckland is charming, lively, friendly and mightily attractive. Much is happening. The city skyline is dotted with cranes marking construction sites, and the streets are in (literal) upheaval as they dig tunnels for a new light rail system under the city center.
Through it all, the Aucklanders smile, G’day each other and offer earnest help if you look lost. The water sparkles all around this City of Sails, and its residents sparkle as well.
One poignant scene – the three little ones busking on Queen Street, ardently playing their violin, cello, and keyboard and singing while looking very poor and hungry. No parents in sight
We spent the morning in the Waitakere (Maori for cascading waters) Ranges with two bright and amusing guides who know and love every native plant and animal. We were intrigued by the rangiora leaf, the bushman’s friend, whose soft underside serves two purposes. The fuzz makes it excellent toilet paper (they say) and can be written on and used as notepaper (we saw).
We climbed down to the Karekare waterfall (where scenes from The Piano were shot) and walked out to a black sand beach. The sand is not actually black, but when you run a magnet over it (see below), the iron bits separate and turn the magnet quite black. Then your feet start to burn because the iron gets very hot.
The naturalists proudly showed us the manifold ways New Zealand is combatting invasive species: poisoning fields of purple and white South African agapanthus (be still my heart!), trapping the hated mustelids (weasels, stoats, and ferrets) who kill their native birds, poisoning possums with cyanide laced peanut butter. (You can almost here echoes of “build that wall.”)

They are also proud of local Manuka honey, a natural antiseptic/antibiotic that they rub on ulcers, pressure sores, diaper rash and whatever else ails ya.

In the evening we went to the Northern Club for dinner with Jane and Doug Kline. This “gentleman’s club” is 150 years old, gracious and traditional. We enjoy seeing how the other hemisphere lives – but didn’t quite get the customs right at this one. While the young frolicked in the bar before dinner, we gathered in a reading room with 20 foot ceilings. While the young were eating in a bistro downstairs, we were welcomed into a large (20 x 40’ ?) and elegant dining room with a pianist playing just for us. The food was superb; the service absolutely excellent, and we had a very good time.
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Posted by HopeEakins 15:54 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

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