Day One in Aotearoa: Auckland and Waiheke
I arrived in Auckland at about five in the morning on Saturday, July 5. Friends of my parents - extraordinarily nice people - met me at the airport, even though I had offered to sit in a cafe and wait for a more decent hour to meet them. I'd managed to sleep quite a bit on the plane, in spite of the 100+ teenagers who were also on the plane, on what one of them explained to me was a "Teen Tour." Initially I'd been seated in the middle of what was - judging by the number of people hanging around in the aisles - the most popular group of 15-year-olds. Luckily, one of them took pity on me and found me a girl to switch seats with. The girl was in a section of boring adults, exactly where I wanted to be, and she got to be in the middle of the 15-year-olds, where she wanted to be, so everyone was happy.
I slept for most of the flight, as the prospect watching Kangaroo Jack did not thrill me. As a result, at 5 in the morning, then, I was fairly chipper. The friends, too, were remarkably chipper, and so after depositing my massive amounts of luggage and having breakfast, we set off down to the harbor to take a ferry to Waiheke island.
Waiheke is one of several islands in the Auckland bay (not to be confused with the Bay of Islands, further north), and according to my guidebook and the helpful friends of my parents (hereafter: H-FOMP), it's probably the most busy. Development is moving along at a fast pace, and it's gradually becoming another suburb of Auckland - albeit a suburb that's half an hour away by ferry.
The ferry ride is beautiful - it took us past some of the other islands, some of which are farmed, others of which are now being reclaimed for nature and small private ownership. H-FOMP are in the process of buying land there, so they're pretty aware of how these things work. They're buying 20 acres, of which 18 are set aside for ecological reclamation of the land - reintroduction of native species, and so forth. There is a road on the property that provides access to the property's coastline and beach; this road is open to all, as access to waterfront areas is a public right.
It's a lovely thing about
both England and New Zealand, so far, that public access to the land is
still protected. Undoubtedly this has to do with the walking culture -
as in, Brits and Kiwis actually walk! But there's more going on
here; there are concerted efforts to restrict landowners from doing whatever
they want to do with their land. There seems to be a sense of land as
communally owned, to some degree. You can own it, but you can't cultivate
it, you can't build more than a small house - a lot of restrictions. And
they all make sense as far as ecological conservation and conserving public
access to land.
It was somewhat chilly in Waiheke - although the weather alternated between chilly, not-so-chilly, sunny, and rainy. Keeps you guessing, I suppose. It is said that in New Zealand you can get four seasons, all in one day. I'm starting to believe it, though I don't think I've seen summer yet!
The next day, I
took a 12-hour train ride from Auckland to Wellington, through the
central parts of Aotearoa New Zealand. And on that long a ride, what better
thing to do than take pictures?
July 7, 2003