We’re about to head out of Auckland and into the New Zealand countryside for a week-long holiday. I’ve been told several times that the countryside is the real New Zealand. (I was also told this about the cities vs. countryside of Ireland, Sweden, Iceland, Costa Rica, and Argentina.)
Considering how much of the population they hold, I feel like cities are probably pretty “real” too, even though the ways in which they hold the flavor of a region might be subtler.
As a farewell to Auckland, here are some photos and snippets from last weekend.
We had breakfast on Saturday at one of our favorite cafes, Catroux. Theo was in breakdown mode in the beginning (we probably should have fueled him up with an apple in advance), but was much happier once this pancake arrived.
On the way to a playground, between repeated requests for ice cream, Theo pretended to be a sloth. (Just to be clear, we saw sloths in Costa Rica, not in New Zealand.)
Our first playground was at Victoria Park.
We spend a lot of time on Saturdays at playgrounds, in part because it gives Brian and I some time to talk and relax together while Theo trots around independently.
At one point, while Theo was trotting, Brian and I switched benches to move out of the sun. After a couple of minutes lying in the shade, I realized that Theo might not know where we’d gone. Apparently, my moment of realization was the same moment Theo noticed the sunny, empty bench. I popped up to see him covering his mouth in horror, shrieking that his mom and dad were gone. Big oops. I scooped him up for some snuggles and a few minutes later he trotted off to play some more.
When we arrived at the second playground, there was a circus show. The jokes were (purposely) pretty awful and the tricks pretty neat. (Speaking of the jokes. Brian and I were struck by how easily sexual innuendo slides into everyday life here, including in this show, in ways that would probably cause horror among many audiences elsewhere. New Zealanders seem fairly relaxed about such things; there is a nearby restaurant called Thai Me Up.)
At the second park of the day, there was a wading pool. Theo adores water of pretty much all varieties, so we rolled up his pants and let him play.
Almost immediately after we took this picture, Theo fell into the pool, soaking the only clothes we had with us. Oops again. We wrung and hung them to dry while Theo continued to splash with other children. At one point, a charming six-year-old came up to apologize to me for almost knocking over Theo. (Most New Zealand children I’ve met have been super polite!)
The playground itself was sea-critter themed and pretty awesome.
We finished up Saturday with dinner at Urban Turban by the waterside. (Even though that water was as delicious as it looks, we ate food too.)
On Sunday morning, Theo and I headed to a cafe and then to yet another playground while Brian caught up on work. Brian met us at the playground for a picnic lunch inside of this treehouse.
After lunch, we headed to nearby Point Chevalier beach, with squishy mud and lots of shells. We brought the kite that we were gifted a few weeks ago, and Brian, Theo, and a friendly child from the blanket next to us traded off flying.
All of the places we visited over the weekend were within seven kilometers of our home, again illustrating one of the main things that I love about Auckland: how seamlessly lovely outdoor spaces and places to stop for good food are woven into the urban and suburban landscapes. Even if it’s not the real New Zealand, Auckland has been a pretty great place for us to live for the month.