Auckland: CBD (yeah you know me)
Since the last blog made “The More You Know” jingle get stuck in my head, I should warn you that every time I hear Auckland CBD I get the Criss Cross Jump, Jump tune stuck in my head. You down with Auckland CBD? Yeah you know me!
Auckland’s downtown is a cacophony of noises, sights, and smells. It’s an interesting mix of old buildings in between sleek, modern glass office buildings. We found ourselves bumbling through our jet-lagged haze to explore the city. There’s an Information Center downtown with loads of information and people to help schedule you for events. I stuffed my bag with a ton of pamphlets (it was a habit of a kid) and a few were helpful. Auckland CBD (yeah you know me), has something for everyone. “The City of Sails” has the hustle and bustle of downtown, lots of free activities (and great people watching), good food, not great beer, good wine, and lots of water activities. You can take a ferry to neighboring islands, try jetboating, or just walk around. There’s so much more to do in the city, but without our own transportation, we decided to primarily stick to downtown.
Since it’s summer here, there’s some really great free activities. Summer in the Square has life music, free dance classes (we saw a bunch of people learning how to pop and lock…for everyone’s benefit we did not participate), and a small maze where we saw them playing life-sized Pac Man with kids.
The square where events are held.
The life-size game of pac-man
The art museum is free and we took advantage. There is a fun interactive section. If you get a chance, check it out.
You can help build a lego skyline
We also had fun looking at the sculptures outside:
We walked outside to see this bubble structure in time to see some kids punching it. We thought it might be interactive until we saw them running away giggling and a security guard approaching with a large scowl on his face.
New Zealanders take two things very seriously. Ok. I’m sure it’s more than 2 things, but these 2 things we quickly learned are very important.
1. Wine: there are so many wineries. Wine is pretty inexpensive, local, and delicious. Which is good because the beer we’ve had was pretty bad.
2. Coffee: Flat whites and Long Blacks are the rage here. We tried to get just regular coffee and I never quite figured out how. However, the flat whites and long blacks are delicious! Flat whites are kind of like lattes with a lovely tulip design. Long blacks are like an Americano.
I got this flat white at the Art Museum cafe. It was gone quickly. I wasn’t mad about it.
Queen St. is to Auckland what the 16th St. Mall is to Denver. It’s full of shops, tourist attractions, and lots of people. Walking down Queen Street there are so many different nationalities, languages, and colors. We quickly made our way to a phone shop and got new sim cards and phone numbers for our phones, passing many people with backpacks also looking at starting their stay in New Zealand. That’s another thing. There are so many backpackers here and the hostels and hotels market towards this. Here are some pics from downtown CBD (I found a street with my name and couldn’t resist!)
Our hotel was right near the Sky Tower, so we used the tower as a landmark to guide us through the city (kind of like the mountains in Denver).
We made our way to the piers at the edge of CBD. Water. Seeing the water, smelling the salty air made both of us breathe a little easier.
You can’t get that in Denver.
The piers became our favorite place to walk. Auckland has been working hard to update their waterfront enhancing sustainability, making things more green, and in general making the waterfront look really interesting and beautiful. Bear with me for a moment while I get my inner sustainability geek on.
Above and to the left is a picture of a rain garden (I had to look up what it is). It helps in a variety of ways, two of which are providing a fun place for people to play in water and watering the street vegetation. The building up and to the right is rated 5 star for its sustainability. If you would like to nerd-out about it (I started reading all about it) check out this link that explains the new changes: Sustainability in Wynyrd Quarter
Summer in Auckland is also Christmas in Auckland. We’ve been having fun looking at the decorations (including the santa on Queen St. pictured above). On Fridays in the summer, Silo Pier has a market and movie night. We ventured down, taking in the local art covering the silos. On the way, we passed by different boats docked at the pier including this giant one: Hey Jude
The wharf also included this pit stop in the middle of the pedestrian walkway. It’s a place to stop and read. Genius!
Silo Pier had a more laid back feel. It’s described as Big Little City. Food trucks circled the pier. There was a pizza food truck complete with pizza oven in the truck! Families picnicked in the grass or sat on long picnic tables. We got to enjoy the views around us while seagulls waited for us to drop our food. Tough luck seagulls.
A giant infrastructure was built overlooking Silo Pier. It’s an art project with 4,500 bottles with 4,500 messages. Silo Pier has had serious overhaul over the past few years. Here’s a video about the changes and can help you experience the place (it feels like an IMAX!, check it out):
The Tank Art Project. Inspired by C.K. Stead’s poem “Auckland.
Wali at the top of the art infrastructure
More of the Tank Art Project. Lots of places in Auckland have a juxtaposition of greenery next to buildings or streets.
Spending time near the water and market was just what we needed to feel a little more at home here and has been a good introduction to the Big White Cloud – New Zealand’s nickname due to the sun being hidden behind a big white cloud. Our next adventure brings us to a suburb of Auckland, Ponsonby. It seems like a good fit for another few days.