Auckland has been overcast for the past few days, but today was the first day of full on rain. As such, I decided to walk to the Auckland War Memorial Museum just about a mile from downtown.
The entrance fee was $25NZ for foreigners, and free to the residents of New Zealand.
The museum has three levels. The ground level boasts a stunning collection on Maori and other Pacific Island artifacts.
Weapons, musical instruments, handicrafts. You name it, they probably have it.
Floor 1 is home to the Natural History section, with exhibits on volcanoes, animals, and the land itself.
Floor 2 has the history of wars that happened in New Zealand, as well as foreign wars in which New Zealand had a stake. The memorial is mostly for those who lost their lives during the World Wars. There was also a small gallery concerning the Holocaust.
The museum was flooded with kids on school trips, some of whom were wearing bright crossing guard outfits.
The museum itself is worth a visit if you are in the neighborhood.
The original plan for the day was to head down to Rotorua with a few friends from the hostel to soak in some hot springs. They woke up hungover and no one made plans to rent a car, so that idea ended quickly.
I had heard that the volcanic island of Rangitoto was an interesting place to spend a day, and google told me the ferry left in 15 minutes.
I jogged toward the pier (not easy in a backpack), and ended up getting there with almost a minute to spare. The woman was telling everyone to wipe their shoes before getting on the ferry. New Zealand is very strict about foreign contaminants, especially in the places that don’t see many visitors.
On the hike up, I chatted quite a few different people. I met a Korean guy who was making a YouTube series about New Zealand travel. I met a few Kiwis who were happy to tell me the good places to visit. I met a Scottish woman and her Sri Lankan husband whom I chatted with for a few hours.
They invited me to their place when I make it out there, and I took down their information.
The summit offered a nice view, but my favorite part of the trip were exploring the lava caves.
Visitors are able to climb through a few of these caves. There is a group of three, and the middle one gets narrow, then expands. The exit is a few hundred feet past the entrance.
The last cave was a little further down, and many people turned back before reaching it. I went to the fourth cave and was surprised to hear a woman playing a Shakuhachi (she later told me). She was playing a beautiful song alone in the dark. The acoustics of the cave were unparalleled, and the woman had quite a bit of talent. I took a seat on a nearby rock and enjoyed the performance. I introduced myself afterwards while trying not to scare her in a pitch black cave. She told me her dream was to one day study at Naropa University in Colorado. “Strange,” I said. “I live just down the street from there.” It was like a Joni Mitchell song.
There was a lighthouse located on a small island off the coast of this small island off the coast of Auckland. There was no discernible way to reach it, unfortunately, so I had to make do just looking at it.
There was also a nice beach with dark sand. I didn’t have much time to stay, as the last ferry left at 3:30pm. If you missed it, you were out of luck.
For more information about the island, check out the Department of Conservation’s website here.
Yesterday I had the difficult task of saying goodbye to Oahu.
I think the island itself is a magical place, and full of wonderful, warm people and scenery. It baffles my mind to think that people who have the opportunity and funds to live there don’t move there immediately.
I am excited about saying hello to New Zealand, but Oahu is a place I could easily see myself living once I finish this traveling stint.
I am posting my last few pictures from Hawaii here to round out this section of the trip. These were photos taken during Kurt’s photography lesson that I liked.