Tuesday, May 9, 2017

[AUCKLAND] The Devonport Detour

Patrick opened the door. I woke up startled and wondered what the fuck my Airbnb landlord was doing in my room. Coming to my senses after five seconds or so, that question was quickly converted to what the fuck was I doing in that room. I grabbed my phone involuntarily and checked the time. It was 10:10 AM. I should be on an Intercity bus that left Sky City two hours ago. And then I immediately had to pass on the blame because that’s what I do. “What time do you leave?” asked Patrick.

Today was supposed to be one of those Amazing Race itineraries. Bus to Matamata, join the Hobbiton tour, then bus back straight to the airport arriving at 8 PM for my flight to Brisbane departing at 9 PM. I guess it’s now safe to say that I will be arriving at the airport earlier than I expected. As a last-ditch attempt to salvage Operation Finding Frodo, I conjured Uber on my phone for a possible two-hour car drive all the way to Matamata I-Site. The estimated fare was NZD230 (~PHP8,050). Fuck Frodo, I say pass.

Moving on from disappointments fast enough has been a hobby of mine lately. Maybe the mastery of the skill just comes with age? I asked Patrick for a fifteen minute leeway so I can use his WiFi to cancel shit. The NZD79 (~PHP2,765) Hobbiton tour is 100% refundable if you cancel it up to two hours before the start of the tour. Mine was at 12:30 PM. I sent the email at 10:25 AM. The small print says I am bound to get at least 50% of my money back otherwise. As for the bus tickets, I’ll have to charge those to experience.

The thing now is I suddenly have a full day to spare in Auckland. I shouldn’t be wasting it, given how I have no choice anyway. Patrick is kicking me out because it’s check-out time, right? I suddenly remembered the island tours I saw at the harbor yesterday, and so that’s where I decided to go after depositing my bigger backpack in a locker at Sky City. I also found out later on that there are lockers at the harbor, too. Paying NZD12 (~PHP420) for a return ferry ticket, I headed to Devonport.

The ferry ride ended quickly after just 10 minutes. The Chinese grandma beside me smiled and asked in her heavily-accented English, “Excuse me, is this Devonport?” I replied with a yes. She retorted, “So quick, just 10 minutes!” and ended her remark with a cute granny chuckle. No wonder the ticket costs no more than NZD12! What you get to enjoy in this short ferry ride, though, is the view of Auckland’s skyline. Think of it as the Kiwi version of that ferry ride from Taronga Zoo to Sydney Harbor.

Devonport has free WiFi which grants you access for two hours. The wharf also has benches indoor if you are allergic to the cool breeze. Otherwise, you can also just sit outside. There are a lot of green spaces here where some locals walk around barefoot. No, they are not hobos. Some Kiwis just like doing that a lot. I think it has something to do with the ground being warm. Or maybe it’s some cosmological universe-related philosophy. Who knows. Anyway, there’s an arcade across the street if you want food.

If you want to read a book, the Devonport library is just beside the park. But come on, you did not take that ferry to hang out in the library, now did you? There is a lake that you can reach via local bus. I suggest going to Mount Victoria, though. The foothill is around 10 minutes away from the wharf if you decide to walk. The hike to the top is just another 10. If you are the lazy type, then you can just drive all the way uphill. But where’s the fun in that? You might want to use sunblock. Skin cancer is real down here.

The view from the top is nice, as is the case with most hills and mountains. I think I prefer this one over One Tree Hill as far as the views are concerned. Maybe this is because of the harbor view of Auckland’s skyline? I love harbors. Devonport is also way closer to the city center, which means the views are bigger and better. I also admire how you get to see other hills not just on the same island, but on the neighboring ones as well. Imagine how simple it was way before everything succumbed to urbanization.

Seagulls love the island and they are perfect models too. They don’t get scared that easily, which makes snapping a close-up not that challenging a feat. There is no shortage of benches on the peak and on the slopes if you just want to chill or have a picnic, like the Korean grannies I saw on the other side as I started my descent. The trek downhill is a bit steep and tricky, so I recommend taking the paved road instead. In another 15 minutes or so, you’ll be back at the town center. As for me, I decided to check out the library.

The library offers 1GB free WiFi a day. I suppose that is per device because I wasn’t asked to log in or fill in some personal details. They also have desks and chargers and a toilet. It’s a good place to kill some time if you are not in the mood to go back to the CBD just yet. They also have a good collection of books catering to Maori culture enthusiasts. Seeing all those Learn Maori books reminded me of the time when I tried to learn Hawaiian. I wonder if the two are mutually intelligible. Probably not. Austronesian languages!

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