Monday, September 28, 2015

Around the Panmure Basin

Panmure Basin, also sometimes called the Panmure Lagoon, is a 1.5 km wide tidal estuary within a volcanic crater in Auckland's Volcanic Field. The last eruption was recorded about 18,000 years ago. It is just a few minutes drive from where my sister lives, so we decided to go there one morning and walk around before doing the grocery. The walkway is a fitness trail, very well developed for families with their pets along. There is also a skate park and Lagoon Fitness Center. Records say it is just a 30 minute walk, but of course, with my camera in hand triple it and it might not be enough. There are also benches on some locations, giving easy accomodation for my sister while waiting for me to finish shooting.

The Trees     

 Pohotukawa (Metrosideros excelsa) trees are found anywhere in Auckland. It is endemic there and can live on rock crevices even with little topsoil. It is also called New Zealand Christmas trees because it blooms simultaneous with the Season.

Flower buds start as whitish that eventually produces a brilliant display of red flowers.  

 the starting flower buds

This is a very big tree that i failed to know the identity, but someone in Australia in the comments says it is a plane tree. Yes it is, though the true identity is difficult for me to know. (Thanks Stewart)

The Walk

Nice benches like the above are scattered on sidewalks, a convenience for everyone who needs some time to just sit and appreciate the view, or already tired of walking and needs a breather.

 view of the lagoon

There are also birds both on the trees and on the lagoon sides looking for food. The above is  a White-faced Heron (Ardea novaehollandiae).

Southern black-backed gull (Larus dominicanus Lichtenstein, 1823)

 Residential Landscape

There are residential houses around the lagoon. It is also nice to look at the different landscape designs of these homes.

The residents of the above house definitely encourage those wild duck to be waiting there, conditioned to receive food rations. Only very few ducks were left on the other side of the lagoon, as they were all here, expecting their food.

aloes growing intensively and well, already growing out of the fence for more light

 the above is a well maintained landscape 

Those towering old palms give this area the Mediteranean look, however the fenced sides didn't allow the walkers to peep into the garden landscape

the grassy lawns as public property connected to the lagoon are very well maintained as well

The Plants and Flowers




a collage of some beautiful flowers around Panmure Basin

Monday, September 21, 2015

Mt Wellington At Last!

 We have booked my 1st weekend in New Zealand for the South Island, so Mt Wellington is near and yet so far! (I have posted the day view of Mt Wellington in the previous post). That makes it more elusive, more interesting and more coveted. So eventually, after "a feeling of eternity", i was able to hike to the so cute mountain in my vicinity. Actually, it was just opposite the train station we normally use, just walking distance from home. It only takes a few minutes from our house to the gate, but i waited for my sister to join me. It is nothing more lonely than going up there in the cold without anybody to talk to, to reply to my so many questions. Finally, that afternoon after work she declared our hike to Mt Wellington.

So down we go, with thicker jackets and beanies on our heads scarves on our necks! I need complete cover as i came from a very hot tropical country, with just a few days of acclimatizing to the weather of Auckland. This time is the start of their summer, but i still feel cold.

Mt Wellington is just 135 meters, the youngest volcano in the Auckland Volcanic Field, has a near circular base with a flattish rim, a three small fire-fountaining craters. Much of the old lava flows are not visible anymore as they have been quarried for industrial aggregates.

This is the view of Mt Wellington from our house in the early evenings.  It is the most obvious horizon i have, so it feels my consciousness all the time. 
The incline road to the mountain is lined with this Pohotukawa, an endemic tree in NZ that flowers around Christmas town, so it is called NZ Christmas tree. However, they are not yet in full bloom when we hiked up.

 We used the right side of the mountain in going up, facing our residential areas. Grasses sway to the cold winds as we went up. The view on the way up is lovely, but i can't walk fast for the photography subjects i see on the road.

 The swaying grasses are lovely to watch, alhough very difficult to photograph.

 Wildflowers are also everywhere, a lot of them are blooming and with different colors. I am so attracted with this dainty, cute, white flowers.

 Again the weeds are in full bloom and fruiting, because December is the summer in the south hemisphere, opposite that of our countries at the north of the equator.

 This is the view of where our house is, somewhere out there. I even had a difficult time finding it. My sister had to point out to me the tree near our house so i can have an easier landmark to locate our house. It is so organized yet so chaotic when viewed from this area.

Another view of the other residential areas, and industrial sites at the top left.

At last, we reached the walkway to the summit. After a leisurely walk, we are almost near, but it is really cold at least to my temperature standards. Don't laugh at me you people from the temperate countries, this is their summer and i still feel cold. But of course, it is colder up there on the higher elevation and the fast wind even made it colder. 

 My sister walked ahead of me as she was not taking photos.  We are now on top of Mt Wellington, one wish already granted. The top is flat and wide, and we cannot walk fast because of the strong wind.

This is the structure they put to mark the highest point on the summit.  Having climbed some other mountains in my country, this mountains seems to be just a knoll, a hill, a cute mountain.

 Grasses and weeds are mostly the vegetation, with very few trees. In fact this is a lonesome tree we saw while going down the north side.

This could be the main crater of the volcano, looking like a small valley surrounded by those ridges. A few people walk those paths in probably just brisk walking exercises. They have their kids and dogs playing there too. I suddenly quietly prayed "oh God please don't let the volcano erupt now"!

 On the way down at the north side we glimpsed the Auckland Tower in the horizon.  It seems so near, but our distance is 10 km southeast of Auckland City Center.

Of course we took turns in taking our touristy photos, as we are going down now.

It was already real cold and foggy when we reached home.  Mt Wellington seems to say goodbye to me now. At least i will not be always looking at you anymore. 

With a bit tired feet we cooked the most wonderful food for dinner, baked mussels. We ate as much as we can, but we still were not able to finish the batch. I had a good night sleep, and a contented heart. Tomorrow i will think of the next place we will be visiting!

Stay tuned. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

First Few Days in Auckland

More New Zealand posts are coming. I have not been opening my blogs for a few month now. Things have been a bit stressful lately healthwise, so blogs sacrificed its share. I just would like to share some photos around Auckland.

My sister and her friends fetched me from the airport and took us to dinner. The cold weather was soothing, didn't allow me to feel tired. I immediately took the camera and shoot whatever is at hand. How nice it is to be in a foreign, cold country, yet your countrymen friends show you the hospitality of home. We always behave that way, wherever we are, be it in our own country or 2nd home away from home.

 This is the view of Mt Wellington from the vicinity of my sister's house, my home for 21 days. I have been contemplating to climb this even while i was still preparing my visa. It looks friendly to not so prepared or not very athletic legs. I will climb you one of these days. My sister said i can go there alone while she is at work, but i didn't dare as it will not be so fun going there alone.

 Black and variegated Aeoniums decorate the gardens of neighbors. The head look so welcoming, as all of them, old and young face the visitor. What a lovely welcome.

 This aeonium showed its welcome pose too.

At the back of my sister's house are flowering weeds. She was apologetic as not to have mowed it earlier, but i stopped her from cutting as they provided lovely subjects for photos. Dandelions are not often seen in the tropics except in the tropical highlands. There are still other non obvious flowering weeds in this lot, and i have a lot of their photos. 

On the 2nd day of my arrival, we already went to the city, by the train. My sister thought i would want to take the train on my own next days she was at work. Above is the facade of the Britomart Train Station in Auckland, the grand central where most of the trains start of pass through. 

Inside the Britomart Train Station, i was really fascinated by the very few commuters with very big trains. I can't help but envy the reliability, availability and ease in their mass transport system. Sometimes, there are some lag or delay in the schedule though, but very few minutes are forgivable. 

A few minutes walk from Britomart brought us to Auckland Central Business District, with Queen's Street as the main central road. This is paralleled by many other roads outside it. It goes a bit upwards but the end at the top can be reached in a few minutes.  It was already Christmas season and establishments already show the decors. Many old buildings are located in this main road.

At the other side of the street is the Auckland Ferry Terminal, beyond this building is already the pier.

 At the harbour we were so lucky to see the drawbridge being pulled with the passing of that small private boat. Wynyard Quarter Auckland Draw Bridge is a very convenient pedestrian and cycle bridge at the Viaduct Harbour.  We joined other pedestrians watching and waiting for the bridge to be a pedestrian again. 

The above cyclist bit the seconds before the bridge was drawn, even at the same time with the siren warning. 

We were just able to look at the other sides of the harbour when the drawbridge was put down again. Now we can easily see the Auckland Tower better known as Sky Tower, 328 meters tall from the ground level to the top of the mast. It was built in 1994-1997, purposely for observation and communication. Now it also houses restaurants, skywalk and skyjump facilities. We were supposed to go there for dinner but time has always been a constraint, as my sister is still working. Nonetheless, just looking at it from a distance already evokes a lovely feeling. 

We were walking from Queen Street to a side street where our friends live. The above building is not spectacular enough, but look at the other side, which makes it more awesome. 

The full length of the Sky Tower is reflected on the glass walls. I stayed a few minutes not only to photograph different angles of the reflection, but also to just experience the fascination. It was truly awesome. 

A little walk farther brought us to the foot of the tower. It is a little difficult for the neck so we proceeded to dinner in our friend's house. Not being able to reach the top is not really a big disappointment, there is always something to do next time.

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