Next day, we experienced “Latvian summer” – or just a casual rainy day in Auckland. We didn’t want to stay inside so we decided to go to Auckland War Museum. We found information that it is for free if you are resident. So we took our visas and proof of residence letters from our hostel and started going. After 30 minutes in the rain, we were soaking wet, but still happy, when we got in for free. Museum was very interesting. There was a history of Maori and New Zealand itself. Our favorite exhibition was Volcanoes.
The most interesting was a fact that Auckland is built on volcanoes. Even the museum itself is built on Pukekawa – one of 48 volcanoes that have erupted in the last 250 000 years. The most recent eruption in this region happened in the last 600 years. Although there are no steaming vents and bubbling mud pools – geologists assure that Auckland is an active volcanic field. Yes! I know it sounds crazy! But it works. I noticed that roads, fences and other things are made of volcanic rocks, which are a very good building material. Auckland’s first permanent building was built from volcanic stone basalt. People use the volcanic soil which is fertile and after all these sleeping beauties are mysterious and maybe people of Auckland just like to live on the edge a bit. Because any stronger earthquake can awaken the land.
After getting a lot of new knowledge we decided to get warm with a hot ramen soup. We noticed that there are plenty of Asian restaurants and cafes on every corner. And those are one of the cheapest options. Mostly they offer food on-the-go. For 5-6 NZD you can get a decent portion of rice and meat of your choice. Some places you can find kebab or pizza for around the same price. So for the ones who say that New Zealand is an expensive place I can assure that it is not so bad. We also like to make food by ourselves. Mostly we buy greens and fresh vegetables and make some fresh salads with lemon and avocado dressing.
Next day was sunny again. We had to check out of our hostel and go to another place. This time we moved into a room in a shared apartment. Although it was only 20-minute walk from our previous place we were exhausted by carrying our heavy bags. I regret everything I packed at that moment.
Later we had an appointment in a bank so we could open our local bank accounts. The girl who was serving us was so unbelievably nice. She even helped to apply to our IRD numbers (Taxpayer identification numbers) online, although it was’t her job. She told us, that she originally isn’t from NZ, so she knows how nice is to help people like us.
After this nice experience, we decided to see Mount Eden which is one of the 48 volcanoes in Auckland. The view from the mountain was breathtaking and windy. The crater was just a grassy hole in a ground, but still, it was a surreal feeling to just walk around like this would be just a regular hill.
Actually, all city is very hilly. You can’t just cross it and skip all the ups and downs. I really felt it in my legs. If walking around Auckland doesn’t make your legs fit and butt perky – I don’t know what will! We walk a lot here every day. Public transportation is quite expensive (3-5NZD per ride in a center) and as we usually tend to avoid it in our trips we just walk as much as we can. Here we walk average 16 - 18km per day. It is the best way to see all the hidden corners and also got a fit lover body. Ha Ha! But really 16km is nothing if you walk on a flat surface, but here - oh boy! In this week what we have spent here we have walked 100km.
Also here is a lot of construction work in the city. On every corner, they build something new. They have to tear down old houses if they have any cracks from earthquakes because they are not built earthquake proof. Sometimes they leave some parts like a frame or some decorations built inside the walls of the new buildings, just to save some heritage. Also there is housing crisis in Auckland. There is not enough places for people to live and a Real estate is crazy expensive here.
Next day (February 3rd) we met with our Slovenian friend Bor from first Hostel.
The morning looked a little gloomy so we went to the Auckland Art Gallery. We showed our visas and again got in for free. It was like our VIP pass in some way. It was nice to walk around and see interesting pieces of art while it was raining outside.
Our favorite was a room where we got some round stickers and could place them wherever we wanted and continued the art. We decided to become an art. It was a lot of fun.
After Art gallery weather was clearing and we started to go to Cornwall park which was 7 km away. The walk was sunny and nice and after 1,5 hour we came into wonderful green park with massive trees.
There were sheep in a grass field and we saw a big dark cloud coming our way. We still had to get up the One Tree Hill.
We went up and it was crazy windy. But the views around us were breathtaking. Rangitoto island looked so great. It's iconic distinctive symmetrical volcano cone rising 260 meters above looked very impressive.
We noticed that the weather is changing fast and we had to go down. We decided to take a shortcut and went to the small path. It was like walking through fairy tale - trees looked spooky, the sky turned dark, the wind was strong and three "little" dwarfs were scrolling down the hill.
When we got down the rain was starting and we noticed that there is no shelter so we hid under the tree. But it didn't help a lot. Rain became so strong that we got completely wet in few minutes. I started to laugh because there was nothing we could do.