I got into and out of New Zealand before the pandemic became a real issue. That said I have mixed feelings about my adventures there. Above are some highlights of Auckland, the first place I visited. There are images of empire, an art deco style clock building, a strange metal needle reaching up into the heavens plus the New Zealand flag flying. It is similar to the Australian flag. The McDonalds they have in New Zealand are of the same quality or lack thereof you can find anywhere in Australia.
Just like in Sydney, lion’s heads are everywhere. In a way they connect New Zealand with Australia as well as Australia to the Britain of the past.
I found the water in the Auckland harbor surprisingly green. It is also surprisingly green elsewhere off the coast of the main north island.
I took a trip to Waiheke Island off the Auckland coast. It is easy to buy a ticket and take the trip. There I came upon gulls, terns and ducks. One gull was making a great deal of noise. Was it young and crying out to be fed?
At Waiheke Island there’s local art to enjoy. Also there are nice pristine beaches to explore. To get to one you go through a leafy pathway to a park and then to sand and surf. There were gulls on the beach and. since it was a hot day, people lazing about. New Zealanders were getting an Australian style summer.
The accommodation I had in Auckland was not good enough for someone my age. Maybe the accommodation I had was not good enough for anyone of any age.
I will avoid backpackers in the future. I admit that the backpacker room provided for me on the Gold Coast, Queensland about twenty years ago led me astray because it was excellent. It was simple and uncluttered with plenty of space to stretch out in. I suppose I expected backpacker establishments elsewhere to be of the same standard in quality.
There are numerous parks in and around Auckland. In this respect it is a very green city. The park dedicated to politician Michael Joseph Savage is on a hill and so gives you a great view of parts of Auckland. Here you will find birdlife familiar to both Australians and the British such as the common blackbird.
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Auckland had a few surprises for me. No one I know of in my family is Catholic and yet there’s a Marsden Chapel.
There is a combination of timelessness and newness here, at Saint Patrick’s in Auckland, in terms of art and architecture, plus a general feel that is both old world and Maori as I suppose it should be. While I was there I bought and lit a candle. I suppose it was my way of saying thanks. I appreciated being let in and having a good look around. In the grounds outside the cathedral there were blackbirds.
Auckland War Memorial Museum has a great deal to offer the visitor beginning with a slice of Maori history in art plus Maori culture in dance.
The War Memorial Museum entrance to the section covering Nineteenth and Twentieth Century wars has a special Maori figure that is there in memory of sacrifice. The New Zealand home front of the First World War is nicely covered. There is the horror of trench warfare.
In the second World War section of the museum there is a Zero and a Spitfire. There is also a propaganda poster about the Japanese and what they had intended to do.
A climb up Mount Eden, Auckland produced some results worth noting. I came across yet more blackbirds. Also there was a Yellowhammer and a Tui. I thought at last I had found a genuine native New Zealand bird with the Yellowhammer. Reading up on him, however, he turned out to be another introduced species from the UK. The Tui, however, was a native.
On the bus trip to the walk up Mount Eden, I came upon street art that said all that needs to be said about backpacker accommodation in Auckland. The art is good if you like horror. The accommodation was not so great if you care for a good night’s sleep. I have learned my lesson.
Six months ago I came upon Darkie’s Mob by John Wagner and Mike Western about the hell that went both ways of the British fighting the Japanese in the South Pacific during the Second World War. It’s fictional but not without some truth. It was written and illustrated in the UK in the 1970s.
There’s a touch of Japanese culture nowadays at the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney.
Here are some recent photos of a frisky kookaburra found at Bellambi Lagoon, NSW, Australia plus a small frog-mouth discovered nearby.