The last place we visited on our cruise was Auckland. Naomi had visited there for a day back in the 1980s when she cruised on the old P&O ship “Oriana” and she had liked it very much. At that time Auckland was a city with a population about the same as Adelaide where we lived at that time. Naomi remembers seeing intersections where you could cross the road diagonally so I am guessing that Auckland was a quieter city then
Now it is a bustling city, more high-rise than Wellington and with a vibe that reminded me of Sydney. Naomi said that there was little or nothing she remembered from her previous visit and certainly didn’t spot any diagonal street crossings. We did see people crossing diagonally but did not see the lines marked on the road. I googled to see if there were any surviving ones and learned the proper name for these crossings is Barnes Dance Crossings and that Auckland was the first city to introduce them in 1958. I have never seen one in Australia.
We were very lucky that the Auckland Overseas Passenger Terminal can accommodate large cruise ships although apparently when Ovation of the Seas calls there next summer she will not be able to berth there. It must be a problem for many port cities with cruise ships getting so large.
We arrived early to find that we had a neighbour, at an adjoining pier was “Diamond Princess”. It was nice to disembark from the ship and be able to walk straight into the city centre. What was the first thing we did? We caught a ferry of course. As we did in Sydney we wanted to photograph and film the harbour from the water and we also wanted to see what the Auckland ferries were like. We had seen them busily going back and forth across the harbour with the morning commuter traffic while we waited for quarantine to give the all clear for passengers to disembark. The ferry terminal is one of the nicest buildings we saw in Auckland so it was a good opportunity to photograph that as well.
A short trip across the harbour is Devonport. We didn’t have a lot of time to spend there, We strolled the main street and the esplanade where we enjoyed watching some birds being fed, mostly gulls. Devonport is also the home of the Royal New Zealand Navy and the base was at the other end of the esplanade so we walked as far as we could and turned back.
Back in the city we went to look at the Britomart Building which is Auckland’s transport hub. We went inside to look at the station and I managed to take a couple of pictures. Naomi did not fare as well. She reached the platform and a zealous employee would not let her take photos claiming that the flash would dazzle the driver. She would not listen to Naomi who was trying to tell her that she only intended to photograph a stationary train and as it is a dead end station the driver would be at the other end of the train anyway. I turned my flash off and took mine from half way up the escalators.
The other thing that we really wanted to do in Auckland that day was to visit the Sky Tower so next we set off to find it. It was quite a long walk through the main streets which were so busy they reminded me more and more of Sydney. We found the Sky Tower and worked our way through the waiting line and finally got up to the top of the tower where we could see the city below us. At the Sky Tower you can experience walking around the outer parapet of the tower in a full body harness or indulging in the Kiwi passion for jumping off things at the SkyJump. We didn’t fancy either option and were quite happy with the Observation Decks. Naomi pointed out a park that she thought she remembered visiting before and we both took a lot of pictures of the city, the harbour and the two cruise ships way down below us. After that we went back down in the elevator to take a look at the casino. I only stayed for a short time but Naomi wanted to stay and use up the last of her New Zealand dollars so we parted ways. I wanted to find a place with free wi-fi so I could download emails and read any important messages so I made my way back to a cafe near the terminal. The route I took was not particularly scenic and it was hot so I did not end up taking many pictures.
We did make sure that we got one more New Zealand ice cream before going back on board. As always we wished that we could have spent more time exploring the city. Later, as we sailed out of the harbour, the passengers on Diamond Princess lined the decks to wave while our passengers waved back. Not long after that the ship slowed to a halt. We wondered why and realised that we were waiting for several yachts sailing in the harbour to get out of our way. This took some time and eventually the Captain gave them a blast of the horn to let them know we were waiting.
At the Captain’s Q & A one passenger asked about that incident and it turned out that the yachts had been participating in a race and were reluctant to give up their positions just because a giant cruise ship wanted to leave the harbour. Apparently the “steam must give way to sail” rule does not normally apply in harbours only on the open sea but on this occasion there was little choice but to wait. I believe the Pilot from Auckland was asked to get them to move in the end. It was rather funny and that was the only time we really heard the ship’s horn sounding that I can recall.
In my next and possibly last post about our holiday I’ll show you a couple of parts of the ship we haven’t covered and also feature pictures I took at the Ice Show. As always I’ve included some links at the end of the post if you’d like to learn more about some of the things I’ve mentioned.
Barnes Dance crossings. – http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/page/auckland-pedestrians-begin-%26%23039%3Bbarnes-dance%26%23039%3B
Royal New Zealand Navy – http://navy.mil.nz/ayn/dnb/default.htm
Sky City Attractions – https://www.skycityauckland.co.nz/attractions/