15.02.2015: Auckland, New Zealand
Back in Auckland again, and this time, we didn’t have solid plans for the rest of the day. We simply went where our feet took us — a Farmers’ market, a French market, planetariums, wide fields filled with grazing sheep (apt, CNY had just passed and 2015 was the year of the sheep according to the Chinese zodiac) and all the way to the obelisk on the top of One Tree Hill. It was a spectacular journey around the city.
We had read online that a Famers’ Market which goes by the name Parnell Farmers’ Market, was voted Auckland’s Best Inner City Market for Foodies in November 2014, and that it is a “must-stop for those who have their finger on the pulse when it comes to all things worth devouring”. Not only was the market taking place on this very day (a Saturday), it was only a couple of kilometres away from where we were staying!
Our 40-minute walk brought us through the state courts, Auckland university grounds and a ton of cafés before finally being greeted by a sign that read ‘FABULOUS FOOD FRENCH MARKET’. We were blown away by the overflowing quality selection of local seasonal produce, which was brought to us by the producers themselves. Besides the produce, there were raw cakes, smoothies (I naturally got a green smoothie 😉 because ‘health is the real wealth’), chutney, hummus (all sort of funky flavours!), tea bags (I got a packet that helps with digestion because Dad was having some problems), salsas, paellas and so so much more.
The Farmers’ Market was connected to the famous La Cigale French Market, so we headed right in as well. This market was a little classier, with perfumes and scented soaps and the typical hole-y french shopping bags. I can’t remember much other than being particularly drawn to the french boy manning the cheese stand ahha!
With bellies and hearts so full, we continued our market streak and took the train from Britomart to Onehunga where the Onehunga Indoor Market was being held. The market was brimming with handmade jewellery (which I’m a sucker for!) and I ended up leaving with a pair of dangly earrings and a necklace to match. Sigh. :’)
From here on, we relied on our feet to complete the rest of the day’s itinerary because whizzing past a city this beautiful in various modes of public transport would be too much of a waste. It was not until about an hour and a half later that we reached the entrance of the One Tree Hill Domain (aka. Maungakiekie). The park had many things to enjoy. There were large areas of grass for picnics and ball games, playgrounds and even the Stardome Observatory & Planetarium which Niki and I took the time to visit.
First, we walked into ‘The Universe’ which allowed us to learn about how our Universe came to be. Second, it was ‘Our Place in Space’ which featured New Zealand’s most diverse display of meteorites including pieces of the Moon and Mars. Third, the ‘Looking into the Universe’ section allowed us to play a little bit with telescopes. Last but not least was ‘Getting off Earth’, where we climbed onto special weighing machines and found out how much we would weigh on other planets, and learned about man’s endeavours to explore space and the history of space flight (there were model rockets and two replica NASA spacesuits!).
We continued further into more green spaces, but instead of brimming with kids, these green spaces were brimming with grazing sheep — yes, sheep! Niki and I definitely got the impression that we were in the countryside.
It was a long uphill climb up to the top of One Tree Hill, i.e. to where the obelisk was, but I would do it again in a heartbeat for the view from the summit was breath-taking. We took in views of other Auckland volcanoes (Mt Eden, Mt Hobson, Mangere Mountain, Rangitoto Island, Mt Wellington, Mt Roskill) as well as views of both harbours – the Waitemata and the Manukau. I experienced yet another surge of ‘unworth’ as I saw the greatness of the city, and, in the grand scheme, the world before me. A smile spread accross my lips. 🙂
Took a bus back to our accommodation that evening, had our makeshift dinners of little bits and bobs that we got here and there, and as Niki showered, I witnessed the reddest sunset I’ve ever seen just peeking from behind the few buildings in view, and it was incredible.