20.3 mi / 10.7 mph / 901 ft. climbing
Home: Christine’s AirBNB townhouse
Four days in Auckland was not nearly enough time to get us to be ready to hit the road in this new country, so, we booked a month at a new, bigger AirBNB. A month?! That’s probably more time than we need to plot a route and get our bikes in full working order. But, our visas allow us to stay in New Zealand for up to 9 months, and the whole country isn’t even as big as the state of Colorado, so we don’t feel time pressing us to move. Auckland is the country’s biggest city by far (accounting for one third of the nation’s population), so if we’re here to understand this country, absorbing Auckland ought to be a big part of that. There are plenty of things nearby we’d like to explore, so we won’t be bored. And finally, if we book a full four weeks on AirBNB, it can reduce the daily rate significantly.
We’re moving slightly further from the center to a neighborhood called Sandringham, though it’s still less than four miles from the waterfront. It’s also only four miles from our Newmarket AirBNB, but we took the long way around, making a 20-mile exploration of the northeast coast of Auckland along Tamaki Drive, and then looping back south and west across the middle of the isthmus.
Auckland has pretty good bike infrastructure, with maybe 50% of the loop on protected bike lanes or dedicated paths, and for the on-our-own sections, drivers seem roughly urban American-ish, neither giving a ton of respect nor screaming obscenities at us. Rett did an amazing job on all the navigation and we didn’t screw up once (though I would still occasionally tense up when a car would suddenly appear heading toward us on the “wrong” side of the road).
Our two-level AirBNB with a small back yard was instantly comfortable, and we both immediately agreed that staying here for a month was a great idea.
The first day we hit the Salvation Army store (yes, they have Salvation Army stores, though “op shop” is the general term) for a Made-in-USA Pyrex baking dish, and then our “new” Countdown grocery (this one also in a mall, but on the first floor, under a…Kmart!)
The next day we took a bus (the random mid-block bus stop had a solar-powered e-ink display showing upcoming arrivals!) to Cornwall Park. On our bike ride I had seen sheep in the park, but Rett was a little too focused on the road to truly notice or believe me. But even knowing what to expect, it was still wild to me when we climbed and descended the four stairs to get us over the stone boundary wall and there were sheep right there. I’ve heard plenty about how New Zealand has more sheep than people, but did not expect we’d have such an intimate encounter with them while still in the heart of Auckland!
Beyond the sheep, the park is filled with trees even more monumental than the ones we had seen on our previous walk. Rett declared it the most-impressive city park she’s even seen, and I couldn’t really come up with a counterargument.
We continued our walk through the city to another volcanic hill, Mount Eden. The city has good marked walking paths that sometimes cut between residences, reminding us a lot of the pedestrian routes through similarly-hilly Seattle. Halfway up the steep stairway leading to the top of Mount Eden, we were distracted by a rope swing hanging from another giant tree.