If it seems like years ago since I was last in Auckland, that’s probably because it was!
In 2019 I drove and flew to New Zealand’s largest city several times for sinus surgery and related pre and post-operative appointments.
When Covid 19 landed in New Zealand last year I was due to go for my final appointment, but I was too busy working solo, so it was delayed. Until the first week of the country’s month-long lockdown! Unsurprisingly that didn’t happen, either.
Earlier this year I finally got a call for that appointment again, so early one morning I once again got in my car (our new one, this time, as you will remember the previous vehicle had issues when I got to Auckland, which led to us trading it in last year) and heading north long before the sun had stretched, yawned and scratched.
Once again I hit thick fog (or cloud in some places) from the Rangitaiki Plains all the way to Tokoroa, which made driving just that bit more nerve-wracking, but made it safely and smoothly to Auckland by morning tea time.
My first stop was Mount Eden, which I had intended to climb (after summiting Mount Victoria and Maungakiakia (One Tree Hill) in respective previous visits. However, the fog had followed me and I was met with a very muggy, humid day and limited visibility from the summit and crater rim.
I fuddled around Mount Eden Village before meeting a Facebook contact who was buying some of my vintage toys – primarily my old GI Joe Tomahawk helicopter and completing the deal, which have me some spending money for the trip.
After that it was time to check into my motel for the night and walk next door to Greenlane Hospital for my appointment.
The check-up went fine, I got the all clear, though the doctor chose to snip a bit of scar tissue inside my nose there and then which involved some sharp objects going where they usually don’t go on Monday afternoons.
After a bit of recovery time I ventured out again to investigate more of Auckland than I had been able to previously. My new car’s GPS proving invaluable in guiding me around the suburban streets.
I visited and had coffee with Jeremy Dillon, creator of The Moe Show, that I have written of previously. Jeremy showed me his company’s latest iideas and nnovations. It really is a cool company with a real “Muppet” spirit.
After that I headed out to St Luke’s Mall – somewhere I haven’t been for 30+ years to get a gift for my daughter and some clothes on special for myself (I am apparently now old enough to rank this as a genuine trip highlight?!).
After sourcing dinner via Twitter recommendations from a Thai restaurant near Potter’s Park, and its giant Wally, I headed back to my motel, via an elongated and delayed route care of Auckland’s “rush hour” (a truly oxymoronic term in Auckland, as the mass of vehicular congestion prevents anyone from rushing anywhere) traffic.
With a near-constsnt stream of traffic outside my accommodation I decided that was it for the day and stayed in, staying up surprisingly late, given the level of exertion I had exerted that day.
I woke just as early the next morning as I had the previous and, rather than face more congestion hit the highway heading south, skirting Hamilton and Waikato University due to the fact I had missed a turn on State Highway 1B in the darkness.
I stopped for breakfast in Taupo, mainly because my concentration was starting to lag, went for a walk along the lakefront and found two model kits I was after in a hobby shop to recreate a particular favorite movie scene of mine:
The final stage back over SH5, the Napier-Taupo road was much easier in daylight and I was back home before lunch.
In total I had traveled a little over 1,000km in around 30 hours. An I would he travelling even more that week, as we had a family weekend back in Taupo the following Saturday – quite a paradoxically exhausting experience for me overall.
It was fun and interesting to be able to get out and see more of Auckland than on previous trips. It was also a bit odd, as the city was just coming out of a localized Covid lockdown, and perhaps a bit of nervousness or paranoia accompanied the journey – scanning and sanitizing were common practices on the trip.
Hopefully I might get to take my family back there on a holiday that doesn’t involve poking, prodding, or doctors sometime soon as, while Napier is a fantastic place and our home, it’s good to be a Visitor From Hawke’s Bay every once in a while!