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On Walkabout Around: The City of Sails, Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland is known as the City of Sails due to the amount of sailboats that call Auckland’s two bays as their home, but the time we spent in Auckland, the city was more like the city of rain than sails. During the two days we spent in Auckland it rained the whole time, but we were still able to drive around and get a look at the city. Something that surprised me about Auckland is how much traffic it has. The traffic in the city is no where near as bad as Sydney’s but comparable to Melbourne which is a bit surprising considering Auckland has 1.2 million people compared to Melbourne’s 3.5 million.

One Tree Hill location marked with red circle.

The geography of the city is unusual due to it being located on a narrow strip of land between two bays with numerous volcanic cones located within the city. Auckland is quite nice and looks very much like a major city in Australia. I didn’t take any good pictures of the city due to the rain but was able to get a few decent shots from the top of One Tree Hill when it stopped raining for a short time. One Tree Hill is located in the middle of Auckland and is capped by a big obelisk:


One Tree Hill is an interesting site because it is actually one of many old fortresses used by the New Zealand’s aboriginal people, the Maori. The Maori always built these fortresses on small volcanic parasitic cones that are common across the north island of New Zealand. The Maori called these fortresses a pa. Here is an artists rendition of what one of these pas looked like:

As you can see these pas were quite fortified and provided protection for the Maori tribe’s homes from any attacks by rival Maori tribes. The One Tree Hill pa site was once home to 5,000 people. Today the pa is a city park and actually serves as a field for sheep to graze:


It is strange to say the least to see a large sheep grazing area in the middle of a city of over one million people. However, since it is New Zealand it only seemed fitting that a sheep ranch would be in the middle of their largest city. One Tree Hill is 182 meters high and considered to be the most fortified pa any Maori tribe ever constructed. The obelisk on top the hill was constructed by Sir John Logan Campbell the original land owner of the hill, as a tribute to the Maori people:


Some of you may be wondering where is the one tree that the hill is named for. Well there is no one tree on top of the hill any more because some Maori protesters attacked the lone pine tree on the hill in 2000 killing it because it was not a native New Zealand tree. Because of this, the running joke in Auckland is that the hill should be called None Tree Hill.

Despite its interesting history the hill does provide one of the best views of the Auckland area and fortunately the rain stopped long enough for me to get a few shots of the city. Here is a view looking north towards downtown Auckland:


You can see another pa site located to the east of One Tree Hill:


Out in the ocean to the north of Auckland is the volcanic island of Rangitoto:


Finally looking south you can see inlets of the western bay surround another old Maori pa site:


Due to the rain my wife and I didn’t do a whole lot in Auckland, but like I said before it is a lovely city and appears to be a nice place to live and hopefully we can visit again sometime, but hopefully with some better weather.

Prior Posting: New Zealand’s North Island

Next Posting: Video of Auckland

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