The rain drenched streets shone dully in the filtered sunlight as I strolled down the hills of Auckland. The rush of irregular traffic and the piercing tones of crosswalk signals followed me into the parks. But the bright greenery hushed even those sparse urban noises.
One of the first facts I learned when I arrived here was about the trees. Those that lose their leaves aren’t native. Only the New Zealander trees keep their green.
And I noticed it. Not only visually but also in the air. The air smelled cleaner, fresher. Except for the faint whiff of gasoline as lines of cars passed, based on the smell, I would say I wasn’t in a city, much less one of the biggest in the country.
Auckland is still urban, don’t get me wrong. Crowds, especially around the university and the shopping areas such as Queen Street and K. Road, still bustle and hum, as traffic flows down the hills and around modern buildings.
But the city’s parks and greenery give the area quiet literally a breath of fresh air. So when the opportunity presented itself, I took the chance to explore some of those pockets of green.
When researching Auckland I ran across a hiking route that takes one across the Auckland isthmus, from one coast to the other. The route is appropriately named the Coast to Coast walkway. It starts at the harbor, crosses the heart of downtown, snakes through Albert Park, briefly dives into the University of Auckland before crossing the highway and climbing through Auckland Domain park. After a passing through residential neighborhoods, the trail peaks at Mt. Eden volcanic crater and then eventually continues on to the other coast.
That path sounded like a good way to see Auckland’s nature, so I when I had a free day between my classes, I deiced to give it a shot. Already living next to Albert Park, I started there. From there I plodded my way along the path, deviating a little here and there but eventually making it the top of Mt. Eden. I turned back from there partly because, well, nothing was going to beat that view. I mean, the pictures speak for themselves.