A few clues tell immediately that Auckland isn’t the usual Starbucks-riddled business district. Its wide green harbor is visible, at least in bits, from almost everywhere. The man in a white shirt and business pants has his chin tatooed in a pattern of New Zealand’s native people, the Maori. The name is pronounced like Mao, as in Mao Tse-Tung, and Ree. Mao-Ree, and not May-Or-ree, as I mangled it at first.
And, there is a giant bungy jump hovering above a parking lot surrounded by Auckland office buildings.
Auckland was the introduction to New Zealand for my husband and me. On first sight, the downtown bungy jump seemed outrageous to us. By the end of our travels in New Zealand, I’d look back on it as conservative. David would later joke that the ultimate New Zealand day would include bungy jumping up to a parasail and then landing on a jet ski that chased dolphins. Or at least one would think so from the tour brochures on display at hotels.
David and I are kind of boring. We like to enjoy amazing natural beauty such as New Zealand possesses by simply walking around in it. No speedboats, harnesses or sporting gear.
Curries, Korean BBQ
Auckland has attracted immigrants from through Asia in recent years. It has lower proportions of people of European descent, 66 percent compared with 80 percent for New Zealand in general, according to the city’s official Web site. Auckland’s Chinese population is now equivalent to the Maori population at 8 percent, the site said.
This was good news for us. The city’s business district had a food court where choices included Malaysian curries and Korean barbecue. We had good, inexpensive lunches there on both of our days in Auckland. Here’s a mural painted on a wall in the food court.
There was no one thing in Auckland that stood out as its highlight. It is a city of many small beauties, such as this garden near the university. We took a city bus out to the neighborhood of St. Heliers Beach. The views on this commuter route were of that wide green harbor. It was impossible to look away from the window.
The water at St. Heliers was cold even in January, during what is alleged to be summer in New Zealand. I only saw a few people head into the water from a pretty little beach at St. Heliers. One was a man who must have been in his 60s. He swam out pretty far and then walked home barefoot. How wonderful it must be to have the discipline to get into cold water like that and get the most of such a beautiful beach.