Auckland from the water

Posted on February 12, 2008
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Auckland skyline with Sky Tower

Auckland skyline with Sky TowerClassic Auckland building engulfed by skyscraper

Classic Auckland building engulfed by office tower

Old Auckland harbour lighthouse, now automated

Old Auckland harbour lighthouse, now automated.

          Some of the best views of Auckland are from the water.
          One of the first things we learned on our harbour tour is that one in every five New Zealanders has a boat. One in every three has access to a boat.
          It is enough to make a Miramichier weep to see pilings and piers that stay in the water all year with boats removed only for cleaning.

          The harbour was especially busy because our tour took place on February 6. That is NZ Treaty Day, the national equivalent of our Canada Day. It marks the anniversary of the signing of the treaty that was to govern relations between the Maori tribes and the British.

Knowing the European tradition of dealings with aboriginal groups, perhaps you will not be astonished to learn that the treaty was written in English and Maori with the English version giving the British considerably better terms.

Miramichi style salute

Even so, Treaty Day is a national holiday. A  sailboat-load of boisterous young men saluted our passing tour boat with the universal sign of adolescent respect – several full moons.

Kiwis are like Miramichiers in other respects as well. When a Japanese firm won the contract to widen the harbour bridge, adding a lane of traffic to each side, the Kiwis promptly labeled them the “Nipon Clip-ons.”

Americas the odd ones?

          As the tour boat roamed out of the harbour and back, I was puzzled that the buoys seemed backwards. The captain told me that red, right, returning is the rule only in North America. He said everyone else in the world keeps green on the right returning.

          Nav lights are consistent, thank goodness. In New Zealand, there is still a little red port left in the glass.

          In addition to all the historic points in the harbour, there are several huge marinas, one with 1,800 berths.

          There is an upscale shopping, dining and residential basin that was the marina for the syndicates competing to take the Americas Cup back from New Zealand. It gives one an idea of just what a huge money deal Americas Cup competition is. Each syndicate had huge buildings and office suites.

          Tourists can now have a sail on an early version of the NZ champion.

More bits

          Fuel costs about $1.65 to $1.70 NZ. I think that is about $1.27 Cdn or so depending on the current exchange rate.

          It doesn’t seem to bother anyone much. Most cars are about the same size as ours although you don’t see nearly as many half=tons or SUVs. I  saw only one Hummer.

          One idea I noticed that I haven’t seen in Canada is mobile self-storage units. They seem to be about the size of the individual units Brian Bowes has about the Miramichi but they are on wheels. The unit comes to you for loading and, I suppose, can stay on your property or go back to a central storage park.

          One of the things that makes Auckland, and other New Zealand communities so attractive is that, for whatever reason, they have not torn down all their classic buildings and replaced them with concrete canyons.

          The older buildings also seem to last better. I assume that is because of the clement weather. In our part of the world, water soaks into limestone, freezes and pops off another layer from time to time.

          The architecture in New Zealand seems more imaginative too. I don’t know if weather has anything to do with that.

          In downtown Auckland, there is one modern, tall building that has incorporated what appears to be an entire older, classic building within it. It is very attractive.

No fat Kiwis

          One thing that is immediately obvious and, for me personally, somewhat mortifying, is that there seem to be almost no fat New Zealanders.

          The climate undoubtedly gets some of the credit. They seem not only not fat but fit. A TV station is running a series about the negative aspects of the fact that Kiwis eat more red meat than almost anyone else but it doesn’t seem to be doing tremendous harm to their appearance.

          I wonder what effect a lengthy sojourn here would have on me?


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