Travel Diaries – Auckland, New Zealand

I visited Auckland, New Zealand in March 2013. Although it’s the largest and most populous city in the country, I found it to be a very relaxed city where everyone closes shops early and goes to sleep around 6pm and even a cat lost at sea makes headlines in the local newspaper. It’s situated in the north island of New Zealand and straddles the Auckland volcanic field. So here I got to visit Mount Eden, a volcanic crater (specifically a scoria cone) one of many formations created due to the merely dormant volcanic field. I also got another rare chance to visit Eden Park, the city’s primary stadium where the 2011 Rugby World Cup matches and many famous cricket matches were held. Other attractions in the city include the Harbour Bridge (and Harbourfront at night), Sky Tower (the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere) and the Auckland museum.
Later in the trip, we drove 260kms down south to the geothermal wonderland of Wai-O-Tapu in Rotorua. It’s a protected reserve of stunningly colourful geothermal activity, with many hot springs, Sulphur caves noted for their colourful appearance, in addition to the Lady Knox Geyser, Champagne Pool, Artist’s Palette, Primrose Terrace and boiling mud pools. The absurd and volatile conditions of the area should not be missed by anyone interested in studying Geology.
On a side note, Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand, originated with settlers from eastern Polynesia, who arrived in New Zealand in canoe voyages. Each Māori tribe has a sacred tree and a mountain. Mt. Eden is the ‘Mountain of the Whau tree’ or ‘Maungawhau’ in Māori language. Wai-o-tapu is Māori for “sacred waters”.
If you a wondering who’s Moa while going through the photo gallery,  they were nine species of flightless birds endemic to New Zealand, driven to extinction by hunting and, to a lesser extent, by habitat reduction due to forest clearance.
The delicacy not to be missed in New Zealand is Hāngi or Umu. They are meats and vegetables, wrapped in leaves, cooked by traditional New Zealand Māori method of using heated rocks buried in a pit oven.

Thanks Madhuka for the pics.

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