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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

Blown Away….!

Day 41/138 2022/2023 Viking Neptune World Cruise, Day 2 Auckland, but really Day 1….

We were woken in the middle of the night with torrential rain slamming off the side of our balcony which was exposed to the elements. It sounded like a fire hose was pushing water off the deck grates around 3am. Luckily we both were able to roll over and get back to sleep, but we wondered what the already flooded Auckland situation would be like today after receiving so much rain overnight.

We were up early enough to get off the Neptune around 9:30am, after having a hearty breakfast of custom made omelets in the World Cafe. A lot of people were taking excursions this morning and all of the buses were lined up for the Neptune’s passengers, but we had other plans!

Buses all staged next to Pier 10 terminal to take the Neptune’s passengers on excursions. The weather was very ‘iffy’ with a humid 23C, but with light rain. We opted not to wear rain jackets, because it was just too hot to wear a layer over our shirts.

You can tell from the streets that it is is raining. Richard (my mule) is carrying his big pacsack, so we can stuff it with things we need to pick up in Auckland this morning.

There was hardly anyone around as we walked around downtown Auckland. For Canadians who know Toronto, downtown Auckland’s Queen Street (main north, south street Richard is walking up) reminded us very much of Bloor Street in downtown Toronto. A very cosmopolitan, tree lined street, with tons of retail stores including very high end shops like Van Cleef and Arpels, Luis Vuitton, COS, Lululemon etc.

Queen Street, downtown Auckland this morning.

We were looking for a pharmacy this morning so I could buy some clarifying conditioner and anti frizz spray for my hair. I have to say that the de-salinated water is doing a number on my hair and I’m trying to compensate by buying good hair product to compensate for the water. I have Aveda Clarifying Mint shampoo to use once a week..but the Freya conditioner on the Neptune was not cutting it for me. We found a great pharmacy downtown called ’Chemist Warehouse’. We weren’t the only ones in the pharmacy from the Neptune either at 10:15am this morning! I would highly recommend a visit to the Chemist Warehouse if you need anything in Auckland.

Sir Dove-Myer Robinson, Auckland City Councillor 1952-1959 and Mayor of Auckland City from 1959-1965 & 1968-1980. The statue sits in AOTEA SQUARE He was a colourful character and became known across New Zealand as “Robbie”. He is described as a ‘slight bespectacled man whose tiny stature was offset by a booming voice and massive ego’. Divorced four times, it is said that Sir Dove-Myer did better with his public relationships, than his private ones. He was a staunch defender of aniti-nuclear testing by the French in the Pacific and he proposed a visionary rapid rail transit proposal as a long-term solution to Auckland’s, subsequent transportation difficulties. I don’t think Richard resembles Sir Dove in any way! Do you?

I didn’t quite understand the reference on this electrical box downtown, until I did the research (above) on Sir Dove-Mayer Robinson. Now it makes perfect sense to me!

’Robbie’ being the reference to visionary Sir Dove-Myer Robinson by New Zealand author and poet Elizabeth Kirkby-McLeod.

Downtown Auckland is really quite beautiful and as we walked along Queen Street North we happened upon this very cool park.

A very interesting looking structure in the middle of the pedestrian park.

The building that houses the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, which is known as Town Hall, downtown Auckland. The building was started in 1909 and completed in 1911. I loved this old building today. It had a big ’presence’ on the downtown street!

I also really liked the building in behind Town Hall which was built with very cool angles.

Angles are a photographer‘s dream.

Note the angles on this building which go off to each side. This building reminded me of the Gooderham Building downtown Toronto which is also knows as the Flatiron building.

Take a look at this shot I took in January 2020 of the Gooderham Building downtown Toronto.

Can you see some resemblance? The building seems to go out on both sides. This building is probably one of the most photographed buildings in downtown Toronto.

But I digress…we were walking around and looking for some department stores in which I could buy some new loungewear/warm pajamas. The washers/dryers have done a number on my my brand new pajamas in the 41 days since we’ve been on board. I’m used to using Gentle Tide Free detergent pods back home and that is not what we have onboard the Neptune. I was striking out with the pajamas so, we decided to look for a camera store, so I could buy a new battery for my Fuji XT-4. I brought 3 re-chargeable batteries with me on this trip, but I’ve got one battery that will not charge past 59% and it seems to lose power very quickly once it is in my camera. When we are out all day walking around, I bring 2 back up batteries, but unfortunately one battery now seems to be ‘kaput’. We found a very good camera store on Queen Street and I was able to buy a third party battery for my camera, as well as a lens cap for my lens, since I lost my lens cap in Ft. Lauderdale airport and have been making do with a rubber sleeve over my lens. The new Fuji XT-5 was out in the camera store and they were asking $3,599 New Zealand dollars for the camera. Yikes! I’m glad I got my Fuji XT-4, partially as a retirement gift from my colleagues at Scotiabank when I retired 2 years ago! The salesperson said many of his colleagues shoot with the Fuji XT-4 because the colour is so striking. I tend to agree with him, and I’ve got some shots from later in the day that will blow you away!

This public pay phone has seen better days! Richard was heading back to the Neptune to dump our purchases, before we went back out on our included excursion.

It is quite a long walk from the street level, through Pier 10, up the escalator, through security check with photo id and state room key, through xray security screening, and then up two walk ways, before we even get on the ship. We arrived back to the ship around 11:40am and our included excursion was at noon, so I quickly changed as the jeans I had on were way too hot for the weather, now that the sun had come out. We made it to our bus in time for the noon-2pm drive around Auckland and luckily our bus driver decided to make a few unscheduled stops today! Auckland is still very much experiencing flooding from last week, as well as overnight. There were route detours our bus driver had to take to be able to show us around Auckland today.

We saw some sweeping, beautiful views of Auckland today which actually lies between two harbours: Waitemata and Manukau. Our bus driver took us by the Auckland War Memorial Museum which was set on a beautiful piece of land in the Auckland Domain.

Our included tour did not make a stop at the War Memorial Museum. The museum is situated in the oldest park in the city at 190 acres and is in the central suburb of Grafton. The park land is the remains of the explosion crater and most of the surrounding tuff ring of the Pukekawa volcano. There are also sports fields for cricket and the Domain Wintergardens also lies within the park. Our bus driver decided we all needed to get out and stretch our legs at the Wintergardens and I’m so glad he did!

The outside gardens at the Wintergarden were gorgeous. I really loved this old brick/trellis structure which added so much character to the place.

What is a garden without a Grecian goddess?

Inside the Wintergarden. The stunning display of flowers was overwhelming to the senses!

A beautiful hibiscus bloom.

The colours are so beautiful on the coreopsis! And that is why I love my Fuji XT-4!

As we went outside the Wintergarden, the gardens were buzzing with bees and I was trying to get my shutter speed up as fast as I could, to try and grab a shot of these fast little guys who were sucking nectar from the flowers.

That is as quick as I could get the shot today, but I’m still happy with it. You can see the movement in the bee’s wings.!

And one more gorgeous shot of the gardens outside the Wintergarden today. I really enjoyed this unscheduled stop, which I know other buses did not make. Sometimes it pays to have the right driver!

We still had some time left on our 2 hour bus tour, so our driver took us through some really nice neighbourhoods with very quaint shops, such as Newmarket, and the Parnell suburb of Auckland Some people elected to get off the bus in Parnell to enjoy a cafe and some shopping and walk the over 1 km downhill walk, back to the Neptune.

We stayed on the bus, since we had other plans, after we got back to the ship. Downtown Auckland from across the Bay.

We were getting closer to downtown, but our bus driver decided to take us across the Auckland Harbour Bridge to the North Shore. At this point he got off the highway, ran through a red light, and proceeded to get back on the highway towards Wynyard Quarter a funky suburb with lots of cafes, yacht clubs and the home of the Emirates Team New Zealand, winners of the America’s Cup for sailing.

Emirates Team New Zealand or TNZ is a sailing team based in Auckland, New Zealand representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. Team New Zealand has won the last two America’s Cups held in Bermuda in 2017 and Auckland in 2021. The next America’s Cup will be held in 2024 in Barcelona.

We made another unscheduled stop in Wynyard Quarter and I was really hoping for some good photos, but a van was parked in the way, so I wasn’t able to get the photos I wanted.

If that van were not there, I would have had a nicely framed shot of the City of Auckland.

The Neptune is anchored behind the Hilton hotel which is the white building at the very left of the photo. Our driver gave us the option to get off the bus on Queen Street and we jumped at the opportunity after 2 hours of captivity! The bus tour was good for giving us perspective on the neighbourhoods of Auckland, but neither one of us can stand to sit on a bus for that long. Luckily our driver was a bit more open minded and we stopped a few times for photos.

By the time we got off the bus it was after 2pm and despite having a big omlet for Breakfast on the Neptune, we were starving. We should have picked up some snacks on our travels to eat on the bus, to stave off our hunger, because now we were desperate for some food for lunch! We felt like eating Thai food and I had used Google maps while on the ship and saved a screen shot of the location of what was supposed to be the best Thai food restaurant in Auckland. We didn’t want to turn on our data on our phones, to try and use Google maps, so we stumbled around and finally found the Thai food spot, only to find it was closed. UGH! Luckily right next store there was a Turkish ‘Kebabs on Queen’ spot and we were able to quickly get some chicken kabob wraps for our lunch.

The wrap was hot, huge and delicious. And it came with the option of 3 sauces. We chose hummus and sweet thai chili. We wanted mint as well, but they were out of it, so we stuck with 2 sauces only. I couldn’t finish the wrap. Yummy!

After we had a quick bite, it was time to try and figure out the Auckland metro. We knew that we wanted to go to the Newmarket subdivision of Auckland and we also knew that the train made one stop in Parnell, and then stopped in Newmarket. Pretty simple and inexpensive too, at $4 New Zealand for both of us. We headed to the train station which was clearly labelled off Queen Street. Only to find this note:

Richard tried to buy us tickets in these machines, but his cards would not work in them for some reason, so he was let behind the glass, by a ‘pink shirt’ guy, paid cash and we had our ticket for the bus. The bus was running express instead of the metro, so the pink shirt guy walked us to our bus to get to Newmarket today.

Our bus to Newmarket today. These buses are being run temporarily to make sure that people can still access subdivisions that had massive flooding on the metro tracks. The bus was very hot, with no air conditioning running, until it left the curb about 10 minutes after we hopped on. We had asked the bus driver to please let us know when we reached Newmarket, although we had been through that area earlier today, and we thought we might be able to pick it out.


We found the Westfield Newmarket Shopping Mall as well as another store we needed to visit for our ship building competition. It’s always good to scope out supplies when we are in a major port, even if it means taking the bus to get there!

Countdown is a New Zealand grocery store chain. I stocked up on some gluten free muesli but couldn’t find gluten free oatmeal or coconut milk yogurt which I prefer for breakfast. Richard had a pedicure while I went shopping and I was also able to find a beautiful leisure suit/Pajama set on sale at a department store called ‘Farmer’s’ in the Westfield Mall. I also scored a beautiful washable merino wool sweater which will come in handy, on cool days or evenings on the ship.

We had to find out way back to where the bus had dropped us off in Newmarket, and the pink shirts were more than helpful getting us on the right bus, and even holding the bus for Richard who had gone across the street to buy us another set of $4 New Zealand tickets back to the Britomart stop, near the cruise ship terminal.

There were only 3 people on the bus today riding back from Newmarket, to downtown. We really enjoyed taking the bus, since it allowed us to get our bearings on this big city of 1.47 million people. But after over 17,100 steps for me I was definitely pooped by the time we got back onboard the Neptune.

Since my feet were ‘singing’ to me I decided I would put on my bathing suit and go down to the Nordic Spa area, which is open until 8pm, while Richard did a quick load of laundry. I have lots of issues with my feet for which I see various podiatrists and a day of so many steps, did not agree with my tender tootsies. The perfect solution at 7pm was a trip to the completely empty spa to use the warm jetted pool, hot jetted tub and the cold plunge pool, along with a invigorating shower in the Ladies locker room. I never saw another would at the spa and I think the spa at that time of night, was the perfect spot to try and instantly get rejuvenated for Day 2 in Auckland!

Tomorrow we are golfing and we both cannot wait. We have determined that if we stand in the H&M store on Queen Street, we can hook up to their wifi signal and call an Uber. We are really trying to avoid turning on our roaming as it costs $15CAD every day we turn it on, even if we need it just for 5 minutes. This way, we will ’borrow’ some wifi, to grab our Uber and hopefully arrange a pick up from the golf club when we are finished. Let’s hope the weather holds, since its looking like it might be a bit ‘spotty’ tomorrow. We would like to play a beautiful, new to us golf course, without a bit of liquid sunshine…if possible.

So our first impressions of Auckland are that we are ‘blown away’ by the beautiful City of Sails. I think it is one of the most beautiful and interesting cities we have ever seen. The unique architecture which primarily dates back to the early 1800’s contrasted with the many modern buildings, set against the beautiful harbour, truly makes for a stunning Cityscape. We’ll keep building on what we think of Auckland after a few more days here, but so far we are blown away…no pun intended!

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Allan Yoshimura
Allan Yoshimura
Feb 01, 2023

Thanks for the great trip through Auckland. Couple of questions. Was under the impression that the America's Cup was held every 4 years, and was hosted by the sailing club that won the previous cup. If New Zealand won in 2021, why is the next cup in 3 years in Barcelona? Also, you've mentioned gluten free oatmeal a couple of times. I thought gluten free meant wheat-free. Would that make oatmeal gluten free?

Thanks. Al Yoshimura

Feb 03, 2023
Replying to

Al - I can help with your oatmeal question. Gluten is a protein that's found in a number of grains including wheat, barley, rye, and spelt. Oats are naturally gluten-free, however, there is an extremely high rate of cross contamination. Oats are typically grown in the same areas, harvested using the same equipment, and processed in the same facilities as wheat &/or other gluten-containing grains. "Gluten-free oats" are oats that were carefully kept separate to ensure that they are truly gluten-free. Typically these oats are routinely tested after processing to make sure they are, in fact, free from gluten. Ruth - Thanks very much for posting these wonderful pictures and descriptions of your travels! I'm greatly enjoying all the information…


Feb 01, 2023

We loved our Auckland to Bali cruise on the Orion. Auckland was a fantastic city! Glad that you made it there to enjoy!


Feb 01, 2023

The pictures are great! I'm sure the city is even prettier touring in person!

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