Auckland has these new, fandanlged electric trains on the Onehunga Branch Line. Although fancy, they have yet to provide any of their promise benefits (like faster service… we spent 15 sitting at Britomart station going nowhere). Nevertheless, new trains means we had to go on the requisite family train journey from our house in Onehunga into town.
In town we walked up Queen Street (the main road), bought Dad a new camera for his upcoming birthday, and then walked back towards the station on the other side. I made a few photo stops along the way to take pictures of things I would never have normally taken pictures of. My brother said he forgot he was travelling with a tourist. I definitely felt like a tourist in my home town, to be sure!
1. Auckland Town Hall
The town hall is one of Auckland City’s many gorgeous Edwardian buildings. It was opened in 1911, which makes it only 3 years older than my Gran. Nowadays it doesn’t see much in the way of politics, but is a great place for concerts of the philharmonic variety.
Next to the town hall is a bronze of Sir Dove-Meyr Robinson, former mayor of Auckland. Sculpted by Toby Twiss. He looks happy. I think he must have just gotten off work.
2. Aotea Square
The Aotea Centre is one of the main venues in Auckland for shows: ballet, theatre, that sort of thing. It is the dressing room for the Farmer’s Santa Parade every year – I have spent a lot of time traipsing the halls in various guises!
The square out front is home to a lovely carved archway called ‘Waharoa’. Waharoa is Maori for ‘gateway’ and there are a lot of interesting gateways around New Zealand. There is even a town called Waharoa. When you enter New Zealand through Auckland Airport you go through a lovely, traditionally carved gateway. It’s such a poignant concept in New Zealand that we spent a whole topic in my high school art class discussing it.u
This Waharoa was carved by the sculptor Selwyn Muru.
3. The Civic Theatre
Opened in 1929, the Civic Theatre is very Art Deco – in contrast to the town hall which is barely a block’s walk away. My parents were watching a show here during the Auckland riots of 1984. You might remember it from Peter Jackson’s King Kong.
4. The Sky Tower
Most major cities have their tower and Auckland is no exception. I think it is pretty good looking as far as towers go. You can see it from most places in the Auckland region.
5. Store fronts and arcades
Walking back down Queen Street there are a lot of empty buildings and re-purposed shops. I particularly enjoy walking down deserted arcades. That outside-come-inside way of shopping is definitely a dying species in Auckland.
Nevertheless, we still found the building with all the craic! (Apparently it is supposed to be a ‘g’, Craig’s building, but I don’t see no ‘g’ there – craic it is).
6. The Cloud and Auckland’s Ferry Port
We overshot the station a little in order to have coffee and brought-from-home sandwiches for lunch at the Cloud, the “temporary” structure built to be a fan-zone for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Today the Cloud was home to the extreme sports of giant chess and table tennis.
7. Britomart Station
Another Edwardian building, the old central post office, is now home to the Britomart transport hub from where we caught our afternoon train home!