A rainy day in Auckland – who’d have thought it?
So instead of a ferry trip to Devonport or Waiheke Island or a tortuous drive through the verdant Waitakere Ranges to Piha or Karekare beach, I have to make do with more urban distractions.
First stop… the bus stop. Not for me the long vertiginous ascent of Queen Street in the rain, as the Citylink bus will do all the work just for one dollar. It used to be free, but took a circuitous route round every other suburb before reaching your chosen destination. Next, St Kevin’s Arcade (my fave spot) on K Road – or Karangahape Road to non-locals- for brunch (black pudding bubble ‘n’ squeak, smoked pork belly, fried eggs on sourdough with pickled mustard seeds and spiced apple chutney) and a Kiwi flat white (don’t ask who invented it).
A travel blog suggested Victoria Park Market as a suitable hangout. I checked the official website: history and hipsters, boutiques, boutique bars and eateries, boutique people, etc. Knowing something of the geography of Auckland (hilly) I deduced that this was downhill, so I set off in eager anticipation.
Don’t believe the market marketing!
What greeted my descent was a modern refit of the old municipal incinerator, the ‘Destructor’- a charming, historical shell, but now a constructional works-in-progress. True, a wet Wednesday lunchtime is not the most vibrant of hours – but at least it was lunchtime. The majority of shop spaces were empty shells awaiting purpose. I saw two millennials in a glass cage staring at a huge Apple computer screen, some men in suits discussing stickers on doors, lots in hi-viz and hard hats, a saccharine gift shop with everything half price, a few inactive restaurants and a Nandos (not open). How boutique.
Two appealing features however made the walk worthwhile: the tangle of exposed roots of some old trees next to Nandos, and the ascending Celebrity Walkway, graced by the handprints (and a horseshoe) of famous Kiwis. I looked for Ernest Rutherford (splitter of the atom) but of course the Destructor was still doing its own version of alchemy in his day, so Sir Edmund Hillary, second conqueror of Everest -Tensing Norgay made the summit first (though that’s not what I was taught in school)- would have to do instead. Sadly, no Bret or Jemaine (Flight of the Conchords) or Neil Funn. Yet.
Just like future handprints on the Celebrity Walkway, I’m sure Victoria Park Market will have its day. Just don’t believe the marketing yet. Next, a walk to Viaduct Harbour.