Its Easter Sunday and one asks themselves “what shall we do when all the stores in Auckland are closed and half the city has left town for a relaxing four day weekend?” We’d already agreed to head out for a Sunday morning cycle, and after seeing the lights of amusement rides somewhere in Auckland City as we drove over the harbour bridge yesterday evening, we decided thats where we would head.
So after Lindsay hauled my butt out of bed at the unreasonable time of 8.00am on a Sunday morning in the midst of a four day public holiday, I got our gear and myself together and Lindsay took the dog out for a quick walk. Then with Lindsay the navigator in the lead we wound our way through the back streets of the burbs checking out the latest properties to jostle for the real estate buyers prepared to pay top dollar. Onto the main roads noting the latest polished concrete cafes with the coolest hipsters who seem to have been purposefully placed in the window front to show how contemporary their establishment is.
We tooled through the backstreets of Auckland city, in the areas that once upon a time you wouldn’t go down in the clear light of day. Now the streets that ten years ago courted prostitutes have pedestrianised roads, stylish bars and shop fronts inviting in locals and tourists alike.
Over the last five years my nights out on the town have most certainly come to a grinding halt, and since finishing with my corporate job Ive lost touched with the city landscape. And it appears things have changed quickly, so as we wound ourselves through Britomart I marvelled at the new Britomart Pavilions which have now been added to the ever improving Central Auckland Transport Hub. They seem to have developed so quickly and contain all manner of high quality fashion stores, eating establishments and cool out door areas to relax in.
From there wI followed Lindsay as we headed north west along the city’s waterfront. We cycled up and down the various piers which are now home to a variety of establishments which today included amusement park rides and side shows beside the Cloud Pavilion, a temporary establishment where Aucklanders gathered to celebrate the Rugby World Cup. Unfortunately the huge, brightly lit super cruise ship that we’d seen from the harbour bridge the night before had sailed, but it was a pleasant ride with the sun peeking through and the odd tourist ambling about.
We rode through the viaduct and across the draw bridge that now connects the separate sides of the viaduct harbour where tourists and locals alike gather to wine, dine and watch the array of super boats that moor in this ever changing part of the city. On the other side of the draw bridge we rode through the recently established Wynyard quarter which used to be a short walk from our old home. Even this landscape has vastly changed in the eighteen months since we lived her. The dirty old silo’s and crumbling empty blocks are now being filled with buildings designed to breath a fresh air into the area, and the Silo’s are being decorated in all manor of styles with the area now representing a boho kind of cool in the inner city.
From there we found the second half of the Easter amusement park, and Lindsay reminisced about the fair ground ride pictured that he seems to think might be the same ride he took some twenty years ago. My memories of it aren’t to pleasant as Lindsay likes to tell people that I get sick on a Merry Go Round!!!
On this rediscovery of the inner city, we finally cycled over to the Victoria Park Markets which are currently in the middle of an overhaul. They are starting to sparkle again and there’s a bit of hope that this precinct will pick up once development is completed. There’s now a mixture of contemporary cafes amidst the old stores that still sell all types of smoking paraphernalia, hair braiding and hippy fashions.
Across the road the historic Birdcage pub is now back in place after it was shifted back about twenty meters to allow building of an underground motorway tunnel. It was placed back on its new foundations where it has stood for 100 plus years, and it has now been stylishly redecorated and is open for business.
So then all that was required was to cycle the long slow ride up franklin road and along Ponsonby road which is once again a forever changing landscape with hip new furniture and clothing stores, and eateries opening all the time.
Lindsay talked of a time when he lived in the city as a student and was starting out his career, when there was barely a store to pick up even the lightest of refreshments. A city on the edge of an amazing harbour that had for a time lost itself. Now we both feel proud that our city is an exciting and interesting place to visit and there is such a variety of places to visit and things to do. I think we might leave the city cycle for another year or so and see whats popped up then.
We finally tooled back through the suburbs, to discover our favourite coffee shop ‘Urania’ was closed. Instead we picked up some hot cross buns at the little french bakery around the corner from home, and headed back to a very excited Samson who’s always happy when we get back home.