March 8, 2019, Auckland, New Zealand — Auckland ‘sits optimistically atop a magma hot spot and 49 volcano cones’ (Condé Nast Traveler), though I’ve been told 53 cones. Those extra four cones up the chances for more tremors — there are around 15,000 a year. New buildings are constructed with that in mind.
Down in Wellington (the next stop), which experienced a quake in 2016, fairly recent buildings are being ‘strengthened’ or demolished and totally rebuilt to be more resistant.
Further south, Christchurch had a devastating 6.3 earthquake in 2011 that destroyed much of the downtown business district... seismologists estimate there will be aftershocks of that quake for decades. Another major New Zealand eruption is predicted within the next 70 years.
Auckland is home to about 1.7 million, roughly one third of New Zealand’s 4.8 million inhabitants. Today there’s construction (or re-construction) everywhere, of apartment buildings as well as commercial ones. This (below) was shot along the waterfront... which, by the way is filled with commercial vessels and pleasure craft. It is estimated one in four families owns a boat of some sort. And hosting The America’s Cup has brought between $500- and $900 million into the city, depending on who you hear it from. It really is a ‘city of sails.’
At 1,072 feet, the Sky Tower (below) is the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere. For a mere $225, you can be strapped in for a ‘controlled drop’ off the side. I shot this in one of Auckland’s beautiful parks... this one was a veritable arboretum of gorgeous trees.
Queen Street is the main shopping drag. Gucci controls how many people may enter the store at one time.
I did almost the same selfie last year, but with different clothes in the window.
At Team Trivia (every sea day at noon) I am known as the Grammar Nazi. I gave up verbally correcting what I see up on the screen. But if I volunteer to proofread all the questions beforehand as a public service, then I can’t play, can I ?
There’s no shortage of entertainment onboard. In Auckland we were joined by an a cappella group known as The Virginia Gentlemen, from UVA. They’re on spring break and will leave us this weekend in Sydney. They perform once or twice every evening and some of them even drop in on Trivia teams: the rules have been updated to state that each team is limited to ‘only one Virginia gentleman.’ Their first show, they introduced themselves and said their major, e.g., Foreign Affairs, Economics, IT, Poli Sci. Since then, they are all busy networking like mad with passengers.
Off to the capital, Wellington... #