In my last post, W1702 – South Sea bubble burst, I described how I missed out on landing on any of the three South Seas islands on this cruise, due to a combination of illness and rough weather, and that the Captain had said that we would be arriving early afternoon a day early in Auckland, New Zealand.
A couple of sea days later the Captain announced that due to a medical emergency he was putting his foot down, and we would arrive in Auckland even earlier, around 10 in the morning. We would therefore have almost a full extra day in port.
It is quite a dramatic sail into Auckland, and we were all up on deck to watch and take photographs as we sailed in. What we did notice though was that the temperatures were down on what we had got used to in the tropics – two of the ladies from our dinner table had to go below to put on warmer clothing as the wind was so cool and fresh at the front of the ship. It was quite a long approach, and the high buildings in the city centre could be seen from quite some distance out:
As we neared our berth, a seaplane suddenly flew overhead:
As we neared our birth the contrast between the historic port building and all the modern tower blocks all around which dwarfed it was very apparent:
On this extra day in port I obviously didn’t have a shore tour booked, so my girlfriend Carol and I just went ashore to explore the city. Starting at the old port building, we had a lovely time just wandering around. As usual I was taking plenty of photographs, looking out as always for the quirky or unusual. Carol soon caught on to what I was doing, and it was her who spotted and pointed out to me the figures on the office windows in the last picture:
The thing that most caught my eye was we walked around was the reflections of both old and new in the walls of glass in the modern tower blocks:
One thing that dominates the city is the Sky Tower, an observation and telecommunications tower that is 1,076 ft tall, making it the tallest freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere and the 25th tallest tower in the world. Carol was a little apprehensive about going up the tower as she doesn’t feel totally safe at heights, but by telling her she could hold in tight to my hand or arm I persuaded her to have a go.
The ‘Skydeck’ or observation deck on level 60 is some 720 ft above the ground, and on a clear day it’s possible to see for 51 miles into the distance. The 360 degree views were fabulous, and it wasn’t long before Carol overcame her misgivings and was walking around to see all the sights without needing to hold onto me. After we came back down she told me how pleased she was that we went up to the top, and that if she hadn’t have done so she would have regretted it.
After taking in and photographing the stunning views from the Skydeck we descended 10 floors to the café for a drink, sitting on bar stools still looking out on the city far below.
We then took the express lift back down to ground level. Carol went to the back of the lift, and it was only as we started to descend that she realised she was standing on a glass panel in the floor, and she could see the ground apparently rushing upwards towards us. She instinctively clung hard to my arm, and as a joke I said out loud to the others in the lift that I didn’t know who she was, but that I had enjoyed her holding my arm!
On the way into the tower after paying the entry fee, our photograph was taken I front of a green screen. As we went to leave the tower, a sales lady came up to us offering our personal souvenir package, complete with four different photographs of the tower and the views from it, with our photograph ‘photoshopped’ into them. There was also loads of details and information about the tower in the pack, and an Internet link to download digital copies of the photographs. We decided to buy the package, and when we got back to the ship later and looked at everything we were glad we did. We were also very impressed how they apparently instantly had our package to hand, and I wondered afterwards whether they were checking who was descending in the lift, or even waiting to descend in the lift to give them the time to find the correct packages. Here are two of the photographs from the package:
As we walked back outside and around the base of the tower, we suddenly became aware of someone rushing downwards towards us – it was someone doing the Skyjump from the top of the tower back down to the ground. It all happened too quickly for me to photograph, and we were both sure we would never have the courage to step off the edge of the platform around the top of the tower and fall so far, even if we knew we were firmly attached to safety cables.
Continuing our walk, we next came to the Cathedral of St. Patrick and St. Joseph, the Catholic Cathedral in central Auckland. A church has existed on this site since the 1840s, being rebuilt several times – the current building dates back to 1908:
Just nearby the Cathedral was a building with what appeared to be two huge sticking plasters on it’s roof which caught our eyes. Subsequent research on the Internet has shown this to be St Patrick’s Cathedral Presbytery, home to Catholic priests since 1888. Major repairs need to be made to restore the building, and a public appeal aims to raise at least $3 million for the project.Walking further, we spotted two statues of animals outside some shops – while you might have expected that it would be the New Zealand specific emu that most caught our eyes, but for some reason it was the ram that most got our attention!
These ferns growing up a wall inside a shopping arcade were very dramatic:
We then made our way back to the ship for a well earned rest before dinner. Later we went up onto the top-most deck after dark, so that we could look at the city all lit up – and naturally I took some photographs too:
This additional day in Auckland had been totally unexpected – a result of the missed port of call in the Cook Islands and someone’s unfortunate medical emergency. As is often the case with unexpected or unplanned things, it turned out to be a lovely day exploring a new city in a new country – and with great company!