Auckland for a day
Auckland Travel Blog› entry 7 of 20 › view all entries
Headed back to Auckland today for a couple of nights at Mel & Matt's. We drove down the east coast of Northland so got to see a few different things to the trip up. The coastal towns are quite pretty, but the roads are pretty windy so makes the journey a bit slower. We stopped at a town called Puhoi for a quick look, quite nice, and the antique shop knew how to charge! We drove a little further north from the town to a place called "The Art of Cheese", expecting to see a working cheese factory. What you got was a busy, expensive cafe with a window onto a floor on which nothing was happening. There was a cabinet of cheese in the corner, but no-one to explain anything about it - quite disappointing really. Stopped overlooking the beach in Orewa then drove down along the motorway to Auckland - coming in to town from this direction was much easier so we didn't have any trouble.
We spent the next day at the Auckland Museum and the Art Gallery. The Museum is terrific and well worth a visit - we could have spent all day there, except we wanted to get to the Gallery as well. The Museum doesn't open until 10am, so we walked a couple of hundred metres down the hill to the Wintergardens. These do not seem to be mentioned in any guide books, but are free and well worth a visit. There is a temperate house, with lots of interesting and unusual plants, plus a tropical house and a fernery. In between there's a courtyard with a column atop which is a playing cat - not quite sure why, but fun! Just below the gardens there's a lovely little cafe with a nice view to sit and have a coffee (and a bargain huge choccie bikkie for $1). When we got back to the Museum, we did the cultural show (not bad but quite short) and looked through the Vaka Moana special exhibition, which tells the story of the settlement of the Pacific islands by the original inhabitants. Very interesting and well laid out. The ground floor of the Museum has the stuff of most interest re: NZ, although the first floor has a lot of natural history - eg: a skeleton of a huge moa that used to roam the land. The top floor is re: NZ's involvement in conflict over the past century, so quite similar to the museum info in Australia. Entry to the museum is supposed to be by donation, but the "suggested" amount of $5 per adult is aggressively sought, so very difficult to get in without paying! It was included in our package deals, for which you can also get a YHA discount.
The art gallery is quite small (20min walk from the Museum) but has a few interesting pieces. It's split up between several buildings at the moment because of proposed renovations, but most don't seem to be open. The main building had NZ works on the ground floor and then a British gallery on the first floor. There were very few world-famous artists represented, but overall pretty good quality. In particular, the Maori portraits by Goldie and Lindauer were interesting.
We went out to dinner with Matt and Mel and Elijah, and they drove us up around the point on the way home. We looked out over Achilles Point, which was named for the ship that fought in the Battle of the River Plate.