Thursday, 6 January 2011

Auckland and overcoming Jet Lag

At nearly 180 degrees east, New Zealand is almost on the International Date Line and therefore for someone living in England (on the Greenwich Meridian),  its time zone is about as far ahead of the UK as it is possible to get. If you want to experience the effects of 13 hours jet lag come here!

When we were in the USA last winter, we bought some Melatonin tablets because they are said to help regulate jet lagged sleep (they are not legally purchasable over the counter in the UK). Did they work? On the basis of one test night we would say yes. On the British Airways website is a “jet lag calculator” so we plugged in the numbers, followed the advice, added in melatonin and got quite a good nights sleep and felt only mildly phased out today (we will be repeating the advice tonight). We still get confused about days, when it is today here it is often still yesterday in the UK until 1 pm when it becomes today in both places!

Auckland is a surprising city. The centre is nothing to write home about and very little remains of what must have been a beautiful city. The remaining few rather nice old buildings are often surrounded by

Sandwich 1

or sandwiched in between skyscrapers

Sandwich 2

as in this case – a two storey shop with a seven storey block on one side and a fourteen storey on the other. Some larger buildings have survived, such as this pub

Building Auckland 1

and the Ferry Building down near the Port

Ferry House Auckland

and an Art Deco Cinema which was used to represent a New York Theatre in the 2005 remake of King Kong

King Kong Theatre

The city skyline is similar to that of Sydney and certainly,

Auckland Harbour View

Aucklanders could be accused of trying to copy Sydneysiders although their bridge is not quite as good

Auckland Harbour Brdge

Last year when we were in Australia passing a top secret American managed radio aerial which was about 300m tall, we were told that the tallest structure in the southern hemisphere was the 328m Sky Tower in Auckland

Sky Tower

from which you can do a controlled 192m Base Jump if you have a spare $200 – I prefer to spend my money

Jumping off Sky Tower

on diving into the sea, not the air!

We were beginning to feel most unimpressed with the city and glad that we were only staying a couple of days (most guide books recommend you spend most of your time elsewhere in NZ than in Auckland) until we went on a guided bus tour. As well as driving around the city centre, it went took us to some of the outlying districts where far more of the character of what must have been a beautiful city remains with striking views, old houses and shops that look as if they had been transplanted from the 1950’s.

Of particular note was the Auckland City Museum which has some wonderfully nostalgic examples of style

Coronation period

1950's Clothes

including these wonderful 1950’s Coronation period


or these Gollys

Little Black Sambo

teddies and a now rather infamous book (click on the picture to enlarge it to read the title).

Some of the old Auckland buildings have been rebuilt in one large gallery including a Saddlers


and a Boarding House

Boarding House

There were also a series of brilliant galleries featuring Maori history, art and life


This is a Pataka (a raised storehouse) dating from 1825

Inside of meeting house

this is the inside of a meeting house (the exhibit is about 40 m by 25 m and stands at least 10 m high.

There was also a lot about the wars between the Maori and the “Pakaha” (as foreigners were called by them) and also the inter-tribal wars of the late 1800’s. Being a warrior and fighting was regarded as an honourable profession.

Te Taka a Tapiri 1

This is “Te Taka a Tapiri”, the last of the great Maori war canoes.

Te Taka a Tapiri 2

It is 25m long and carved from a single trunk. It could carry 100 warriors and had quite a sophisticated internal decking

Te Taka a Tapiri 3

designed to keep the warriors dry.

Regrettably, the British arrogance towards indigenous people living in “its colonies” was once again well documented (as it was in Australia) but we sense here that New Zealand is a country which is more at ease with its past than was the case in Australia.

Tomorrow is van pick up day when we meet our home for the next 55 days. We are more than ready for the challenge!

Sam – we have sent you your first postcard which should be with you next week. It has a picture of one of the animals you wanted on it – which one do you think it will be?

Sam's first post card

Here is a picture of Nana Pat posting it to you.

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