Auckland (Newmarket), NZ to Auckland (Sandringham), NZ

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.

The first view of our bikes wheels-down in New Zealand. Did you know that in the Southern Hemisphere our wheels spin in the opposite direction?
A view back to downtown Auckland and its oddly-Soviet-looking Sky Tower.
Riding a coastal bike path near the Waiotaiki Nature Reserve.

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.

Week 1

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!

Sheep in Cornwall Park.
A sheep asking Rett where Lamby is (boy was she mad that we didn’t bring her along!) I have not Google-Erased any fences from this photo!
Sheep everywhere, of all sizes!
Look at those ears!
Rett smelling the flowers of a house that borders the park. Not a bad spot to live!
Connected to Cornwall Park at the south end is One Tree Hill, for which both the U2 song and the WB teen-drama were named. We of course ascended to the (very windy!) top, where the obelisk stands as tribute to the native Maori, and John Logan Campbell, creator of this park (and much of the good stuff in Auckland) is buried.
A natural tree-house on the slope of One Tree Hill.
This must be a Guinness World Record for “Shortest distance between free-ranging livestock and the center of a major city”.

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.

Rett approaching another giant tree.
Its roots rise higher than she does!
It’s not just sheep, they keep cattle in this park too!
The pheasants are controlled even less than the sheep and cows, they just show up on their own!

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.

Rett swinging on the slopes of Mount Eden.
As kids, my brother and I had a very odd Peanuts jigsaw puzzle displaying a baseball scene. One of the many parts of it that always confused me was two figures in the background where you could only see a U-shaped butt with feet on top (it was apparently supposed to be a couple of kids being flipped in the air). I finally get to see that in real life!
Rett ready to fly off the top of Mount Eden.
This volcanic bowl is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. I knew we were climbing a volcano, but cresting the rim and looking down into the deep symmetric well still surprised me. The fact that it’s entirely covered in green makes it completely unlike the stereotypical volcanic crater.
Us atop Mount Eden. An extensive system of boardwalks and steel platforms circles the rim of the volcano.
Random trailside flowers.


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