Auckland, 14th January

We flew (business class, natch) across the Tasman to Auckland. For some reason, arriving in the City of Sails always feels like coming home. I think it’s because it’s functionally Plymouth on the Pacific. The seaport is right in the city centre. Just across the water is a town called Devonport which is home to the Royal New Zealand Navy. The harbour and Hauraki Gulf define the city. There’s the wonderful tang of salt and seaweed in the air. Big ships manoeuvre in the harbour at all hours. The CBD is on the waterfront.

Arriving at the excellent Pullman Hotel we dropped our bags, grabbed the cameras and set off to Viaduct Harbour to catch some of the ambience and see what we could photograph. There was also some beer.

This is Auckland Sky Tower. It’s quite lovely in a domineering and slightly phallic sort of way. I’ve often tried to find out what it’s actually for, and as far as I can work out its sole purpose is to act as something tall that people can climb and then jump off. As we discovered in Queenstown, this is something of a theme in New Zealand. There seems to be a well-developed culture of inventing new and exciting ways to dodge gravity.

Sky Tower, Auckland
The Defining Structure of the Skyline.

Not going to lie to you – expect lots of bird shots. In Auckland, that means Pacific Gulls. Huge, mean bullies, they mostly steal from the smaller Silver Gulls. Big and nasty they may be, but they are bloody beautiful. Elegant masters of air and sea, they inspire awe. Just don’t get downwind of a breeding colony.

Pacific Gull
Pacific Gull
Seaplane
Seaplane Operations in Auckland Harbour
Seagull
Either a black-billed or a juvenile silver.
Pacific Gull
Another Pacific Gull

This is the hull of one IMOCA 60 that crashed hard in the Southern Ocean and the rig of another one that crashed hard in the Southern Ocean. Not having experienced enough hard crashing in monstrous waves, freezing spray, treacherous ice and howling gales the skippers teamed up to create a single functional boat from the wreckage. Here she’s doing trials in the harbour. A couple of days later she headed down to Dunedin to re-start the project of crashing hard in one of the world’s toughest places, thousands of miles from help. One has to admire this sort of attitude, in a slightly horrified way. There are many activities that are similarly dangerous that would be labeled ‘self-destructive behaviour’ by the medical profession. There are pills you can take, I believe. Lovely boat, though.

IMOCA 60
IMOCA 60

If you didn’t want seagulls, you should have gone to another blog.

Pacific Gull
Yet Another Pacific Gull

Then we went to the Northern Steamship Company for beer. The jet-lag was cutting in.

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