“You shall not pass!”

Auckland Harbour

I flew in from Sydney on an Air New Zealand flight. They limit cabin baggage to 7kg each piece, so I got to do the bag shuffle in the check-in line – moving things among my roll-aboard I check, my backpack and purse to get to the right kg point for each. I was well within the 20kg limits for checked bags, so it all worked out. The safety video on the flight was not the hobbits I was expecting but famous surfers from around the world who demonstrated how to use the various safety features and equipment, all on beaches.

Auckland skyline
Fascinating fish-scale building in Auckland Harbour
Closeup of the fish-scale building

After passport control, you go through the bio security check. Since New Zealand is essentially a closed ecosystem, it’s important that no foreign organisms smaller than people enter the country, so each visitor has to declare any food, plant matter, camping equipment or other items in several other categories. The inspectors then determine whether you can take it with you into the country. My sandwich did not pass, but the caramel bar they gave us on the plane was A-ok.

Auckland skyline
Auckland Harbour
Auckland Harbour

I took a shared shuttle into the city and checked into my hotel, which is also a brewery. The lady behind the bar checked me in – it was about 1 am by this point – and asked if it was my first time to New Zealand, to which I replied yes. One of the guys sitting at the bar said, “this place is dangerous.” Having safely spent two days in Australia during which nothing tried to kill me, I was curious what he meant and asked, “how so?”

“It’s dangerous because you never want to leave,” he replied. Too true, random stranger at the bar, too true.

Auckland Harbour
Even this silo was decorated for Christmas – see the tinsel?
Memorial to the Rainbow Warrior, a Greenpeace vessel sunk by the French for protesting French nuclear testing off New Zealand’s border
Tiny park in Auckland Harbour with several pōhutukawa trees
Auckland Harbour
Auckland Harbour

The next day was a free one for me before meeting up with my tour mates, so I walked down to the harbour and enjoyed the cool vibe on the waterfront, as you can see from these pictures. It makes sense that Auckland is also called the “City of Sails.”

Auckland Harbour
Ship bridge in action
Ship bridge in action
Auckland Harbour

I walked over a bridge only to realize 45 minutes later that it’s a retractable ship bridge, dividing to let ships pass. Unfortunately this meant waiting for it to resume its original position as a human bridge before I could pass back to the rest of Auckland.

Auckland Harbour
Auckland skyline
I’m not sure what this structure’s purpose is, but it seems like a series of balconies with no apartments attached. Fun place for a picnic
Ice skating rink in Auckland Waterfront
Even in Auckland, people are locking their love to fences
Auckland Harbour

Check back tomorrow for views of the Auckland Domain, the huge park in the middle of the city.

Title quote: J.R.R. Tolkien as Gandalf, The Fellowship of the Ring

Ferry Building
Auckland skyline
Auckland Harbour

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