Sunday, 15 January 2017

Off to New Zealand

The first leg was RobertQ Airbus from Chatham to the Toronto airport. Why does their schedule never match what I need? The choice was arrival 1.5hr before flight time (too short for an international flight) or 6 hours before my flight. That means I left Chatham at 4am for a 2pm flight. Oh well, it gave me time to fix the handle on my checked bag since it failed to retract as soon as I stepped in the terminal. The flight route was a little less complicated than the Australian trip. This was just Toronto-Vancouver-Auckland. Only 23 hours from pushback in Toronto to arrival in Auckland at 7am.
First view of Auckland NZ
No issues with the car parts I declared in my luggage. There were 4 FJr drivers in the arrivals area when I came out of customs. One from the UK, the rest from Australia. I must be in the right place.

My plan was to get some shopping done and stay overnight in Auckland before heading to the track. It was too early for any shopping, so I went down to the harbour. There were a couple of America's Cup boats (NZL41 and NZL68) run by the same company I sailed with in Sydney. Steinlager2 (Sir Peter Blake's 1989-90 Whitbread winner) and a 6.50 Mini (6.5 meter long single-handed ocean racer) shows the range of racing boats at dock.
Steinlager 2 Whitbread racer 6.50 Mini Transat racer
There was a cool 1932 rolling bridge that used to open to let boats out of the inner harbour. A 102 tonne concrete counterweight allowed the bridge to be moved with only a 15 hp electric motor. Also a free library made from a shipping container (take a book, leave a book).
Rolling bridge Waterfront Container Library
Stores were open by now, so I bought some camping gear that I did not want to carry on the flight. The plan is to camp at the track for 3 of the 6 races. Plus some camping on some of the hikes.

I did not want to take a nap to try and get my body clock to sync quicker to the local time. So time for some touring. Drove up to the top of One Tree Hill as not ready for big hikes yet. There were cows and sheep in the surrounding Cornwall Park. I was confused by the number of families in the park in the middle of the day on a Wednesday until I remembered it is 'summer' vacation down here.
Monument on One Tree Hill Auckland from One Tree Hill
Cows in Cornwall Park Flowering trees with bees
Next was Mount Eden. This required a short hike. The road to the summit was too narrow for both vehicles and pedestrians, so cars are not allowed (except for limited mobility services). The top looks down from the highest natural point in Auckland. The volcanic crater has spiritual significance to the Maori.
Looking down into the crater from the summit
Auckland in the background
Looking up at the summit from the lower crater rim
Drove along the coast on Tamaki Drive to Mission Bay beach. Pretty busy for what I thought was a cool day.
Stayed overnight at YHA Auckland City. Good rooms, no parking.

My accommodations for the next week are at Manor Views in Hunley, 20 minutes south of Hampton Downs racetrack. The building used to be part of a 1926 general hospital (changed to a maternity hospital after a couple of years) until 1996. It was renovated in 2006 as a hotel.
Bridge over Waikato River at Huntly

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