Auckland is not the capital of New Zealand

It is often thought that Auckland is the capital of New Zealand however, as any Kiwi will tell you, the current capital is actually Wellington, a smaller but no less interesting city located further south on the North Island. The original capital of the colony of New Zealand was actually a small settlement called Russell in the Bay of Islands, but I digress, this post is about Auckland, otherwise known as the City of Sails. Auckland was the capital for a short period of time after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 and then it moved to Wellington in 1865, Auckland is now considered the economic capital of New Zealand and it is the largest city in the country.

Earlier this year I posted photos taken with my iPhone 3, the quality was pretty poor however I liked the ‘retro’ effect created by the app I was enamored with at the time. These shots were taken with my handy little Panasonic Lumix TZ10, a great point and shoot camera that we bought to take to Europe last year. I did make the mistake of messing around with some of the automatic ‘effects’ such as HDR, although fun at the time the result was pretty ordinary.

Ferry Terminal Auckland

 

Auckland city, ferry terminal lamps

My time to explore the city was limited to one full day and one night, weather on arrival was woeful and typical of the miserable weather that usually follows me on holiday so imagine my joy when I awoke to blue sunny skies the next day. Friends and family had advised me to hop on a ferry and cruise the Waitemata Harbour weather permitting, it was good advice and for about $20 I spent a relaxing couple of hours on the water. Stops of interest include Devonport, Stanley Bay and Rangitoto Island. Rangitoto Island is a unique, volcanic island with 3 peaks, it formed more than 600 years ago and if you have time you can hop off the boat and walk to the top of the crater for 360 degree views of the city, harbour and environs.

Harbour Cruise, Auckland

Fishing, Auckland Harbour

Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour is a recent development consisting of upmarket hotels, restaurants and office buildings, it is a popular spot for residents and tourists and if you love boats it is worth checking out. I wandered around for an hour or so, soaking up the sun and doing a spot of people watching but looking at boats for long periods of time doesn’t really interest me that much. The National Maritime Museum is near by and I could have spent more than a few dollars on All Blacks World Cup Rugby merchandise but the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki was calling and I’m a sucker for art gallery souvenirs.

The Auckland Art Gallery is free to visit, there is an entry fee for special exhibitions and events, at the time the Degas to Dali exhibition was touring and being a fan of many artists during the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries I couldn’t resist buying a ticket.

Auckland Art Gallery

Art installation, Auckland Art Gallery

Art installation, Auckland Art Gallery

As the sunsets the harbour is quiet a pretty place to visit, a group of us from the conference I was attending gathered to explore the waterfront and find somewhere nice to eat. We headed to Queens Wharf to inspect ‘The Cloud’, a curved structure created to erected to accommodate events during the Rugby World Cup 2011, the view of the harbour and city was great, the lack of a space to sit and have a drink…not so much. Obligatory happy snaps taken, we moved on to the Viaduct harbour precinct and managed to find a most suitable place to drink and eat, alas no decent food photos to share but I can assure you that the meals were creatively presented and tasted absolutely delicious.

This was my first real stay in Auckland, yes, even though it was only for a short period of time and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Most of my trips to New Zealand usually only include a short stop at the airport before heading further north or returning to Australia, next time I hope to extend that to a nice long weekend and visit something of the amazing markets and wineries that I’ve heard so much about 🙂

The Cloud on Queen's Wharf

Sailing on the harbour, Auckland

Viaduct harbour marina at twilight

Snapdragon restaurant, Viaduct Harbour

Past America's Cup defence, Auckland

Auckland's skytower at night

 

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Food glorious food…part two

Whilst travelling around Europe last year I took thousands of photos, some of these focused on the delightful array of food available from markets and the meals we consumed. Many of the photos are merely happy snaps, badly lit and slightly blurred photographs of the food we ate and often I was so absorbed in the eating of a tasty dish that I completely forgot to take a photo. Anyway, the first part of our journey and the food we ate is covered in Food glorious food…part one and I had meant to continue the story but never got around to it…until now.

The food in Italy can be bad, good or fantastic, we were lucky in that we chose good to fantastic food for the majority of the time and the two bad meals we ate were due to laziness and convenience, not bad for four weeks of eating in Italy. Italians don’t really do breakfast, at least not the way we do so we settled for the in-house breakfasts most of the time, although not great, we enjoyed trying Cruesli (Muesli with choc chips) and the array of home baked cakes and tarts at the B&B Villa degli Ulivi were scrumptious. Occasionally cold cuts of meat and boiled eggs were also available in addition to the pastries, jam and bread rolls, the coffee was usually very ordinary so we took to visiting the local bars for an espresso.

Wherever possible we tried local wines and local specialties, guided by the waiters in the restaurants and in Rome we asked the ‘host’ of the Cantina Cantarini to help us choose our meals, selecting fresh, seasonal produce and simple flavours so good that we returned the following night. In Florence we ate picnics outside the Boboli Gardens, pasta in the San Lorenzo Markets and spent an evening with our travellers at a inTavola cooking class, the class was so much fun and at the end of the evening we sat down to enjoy the fruits of our labour accompanied by a couple of glasses of wine.

Wherever we went I managed to track down a gelateria (even in Germany), I was on a mission to try as many flavours as possible and am proud to say that I tried 25 different flavours, some of them twice (pistachio, zabaglione and pannacotta) and some of which I don’t remember. I have to admit that there are just some flavours that I’ve never been really fond of such as melon or licorice so I stayed clear of them and there are possibly hundreds more flavours I could have tried however there was still a budget to stick to and having gelato for every meal was not the objective. Some of the more unusual (for me) flavours were: Coconut, Riesling, Fior di Latte (Milk), Torrone and Cherries and cream.

Here is just a taste of what we enjoyed in Italy, starting with local specialties in Vernazza to wild boar in Umbria, panettone in Siena and seafood in Sorrento, it really was a food tour of Italy and the extra kilos in weight that I gained were well and truly worth it 🙂

Buon appetito!

Pesto al trofie, Vernazza
Pesto al trofie, Vernazza
Fried seafood, Vernazza
Fried seafood, Vernazza
Sicilian Cannoli, Il Pirata Vernazza
Sicilian Cannoli, Il Pirata Vernazza
Learning to cook in Florence
Learning to cook in Florence
The first course ready to go in the oven
The first course ready to go in the oven, layers of eggplant, mashed potato with zucchini and pancetta, and fontina cheese.
The first course, made by us in Florence
The first course, made by us in Florence
Steak, Florence
Steak, Florence
Fried Zucchini, Florence
Fried Zucchini, Florence
Sweets on display, Florence
Sweets on display, Florence
Wild boar ragu and pappardelle pasta, Siena
Wild boar ragu and pappardelle pasta, Siena
Spaghetti with clams, Siena
Spaghetti with clams, Siena
Roast pork sandwich and Panetone picnic, Siena
Roast pork sandwich and Panettone picnic, Siena
Fresh fruit for sale, Siena
Fresh fruit for sale, Siena
Tortelloni, Siena
Tortelloni, Siena
Coffee to end the meal, Siena
Coffee to end the meal, Siena
Sausage pizza in Volterra
Sausage pizza in Volterra
Salami and pecorino sandwiches in Pienza
Salami and pecorino sandwiches in Pienza
A glass of wine to celebrate the day, Orvieto
A glass of wine to celebrate the day, Orvieto
Breakfast in Orvieto
Breakfast in Orvieto
A little food with our wine, Orvieto
A little food with our wine, Orvieto
Wild boar stew, Orvieto
Wild boar stew, Orvieto
Roast pork medallions, Orvieto
Roast pork medallions, Orvieto
Cooking over an open flame, Civita di Bagnoreggio
Cooking over an open flame, Civita di Bagnoreggio
Grilled vegetables at a cantina, Civita di Bagnoreggio
Grilled vegetables at a cantina, Civita di Bagnoreggio
Pastries for sale, Assisi
Pastries for sale, Assisi
Pasta and assorted food products for sale in Sorrento
Pasta and assorted food products for sale in Sorrento
Mixed seafood and pasta, Sorrento
Mixed seafood and pasta, Sorrento
Prawns and pasta, Sorrento
Prawns and pasta, Sorrento
Fresh lemons, Sorrento
Fresh lemons, Sorrento
Eating gelato in Rome
Eating gelato in Rome
Mmmmm...gelato, Rome
Mmmmm…gelato, Rome