January 25, 2002 - A Day In Auckland

Mark and I headed into Auckland on Friday; he to work, me to do errands. First stopping at the Intel (ex-Dialogic) office in Auckland where Mark works, and where I have a number of friends from my Dialogic days (I ended up spending about three hours catching up and getting lots of travel and cycling tips), I trudged around (and up and down) downtown looking for maps, stove fuel and an Internet cafe where I could plug my laptop in to upload my web log and transfer mail.

There seems to be an Internet cafe on every corner, but most seem to cater to twenty-something Asian tourists playing computer games. I finally found a "traditional" one on Lorne Street near the corner of Victoria St. A coffee bar with computers, network hook ups and a high-speed connection. For the cost of a capuccino, they give you the coffee with 10 minutes of connection time free--enough to do my transfers. I hope there are more like this once I get on the road.

Strangely, in a city full of great coffee bars, there now seems to be a Starbucks on every corner. There seems to be no loss of local places since I was here last, so they must be for the tourists who don't know better.

Auckland seems much more crowded than when I was last here, five years ago. It may be that it is January rather than December, but there seem to be many more tourists and much more traffic. Waiheke, according to Mark & Marine, is also much more crowded on weekends and during the summer. The year-round population hasn't changed in decades, but there has been a tremendous development of vacation homes and weekend traffic. There are multiple car ferries per day and hourly (at least) passenger ferries out of Auckland. There can be 40,000 on island on a weekend. Waiheke may be in danger of turning into a Marthas Vineyard. Mark's neighbors, who have been on the island for twenty-five years have said that they are moving as soon as the first traffic light is installed.

The only downside to my walking around town was a blister on my right foot--this from well-broken in shoes? It is pretty small, but is right above the ball and I hope it doesn't interfere with pedaling.

After meeting Mark at the ferry terminal, we boarded an extremely crowded Friday evening ferry, packed with weekenders, back to the island for a nice dinner with Marine and another brilliant sunset.

Updated: 16 March 2002