So my body clock is clearly still adjusting to being in New Zealand. I awoke at a time that would have been most suitable – if I happened to be on the east coast of Australia. Or it could have been that the alarm wasn’t set properly. In either case, I wasn’t up as early as originally intended, but still early enough to make the most of the day.
Before retiring to bed last night I was tossing up some possibilities for what I would do today. I had narrowed it down to two options – either travelling over to the north head of Waitemata Harbour at Devonport, or visit the National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy at Torpedo Bay. Both destinations looked appealing and not being able to make up my mind, I resolved to make a final decision this morning.
Refreshed by coffee (God bless coffee!) I made the rather pleasant discover that Torpedo Bay is, in fact, located in Devonport, and so it would be possible for me to do both destinations today with relevant ease. This revelation made up for the ‘sleep in’, and I sallied forth from my flat mid-morning to navigate my way across to the north shore of the harbour. The task would have been a little easier if Ms. GPS hadn’t decide to take the morning off and I having to rely on Google Maps on my phone (not ideal when it’s not mounted in a place within eyesight). Thankfully there wasn’t a wrong turn taken and I managed to arrive at the Naval Museum unscathed and without having caused any traffic incidents – at least that I’m aware of.
The Naval Museum is fairly small, but contains a goodly array of displays outlining the relatively short history of the RNZN and of the Royal Navy in New Zealand before that. It’s probably not the kind of museum that most people would find interesting. Having an interest in military history, however, made this an almost ‘must see’, and I spent a very pleasant hour or so meandering through the exhibits, reading some of the stories, learning about the naval history of New Zealand.
The highlight of this museum visit, however, was not in the historical exhibits, but in a piece of art that has been installed in a very well lighted room of the museum, a room that looks over the harbour back towards the city of Auckland. This artwork is a representation of hands reaching up from a shallow pool of water, against the background of a ship’s ladder that extends up through the glass roof, and which has water dribbling down towards the pool of water. The artwork is the only object in the otherwise large room. The photograph I took doesn’t really do the work justice.
It is haunting. It is demanding. It is unmissable.
After a quite enjoyable lunch at the museum’s cafe, I drove the short distance to the North Head Historic Reserve, which similarly to the north head of Sydney Harbour originated as a base for the military defence of the harbour at a time when there was a great fear of Russian imperialist expansion. The present reserve, known as Maungauika to the Maori, continued in various military functions up until 1996 when it was handed over to the Department of Conservation and becomes a Historic Reserve.
The scenery from this headland is simply stunning, and one can understand why it would make an ideal military post from which to observe and defend the harbour it overlooks. I spent an hour or so wandering and exploring the site and the sights, the photos of which can be found here.
Towards mid afternoon I headed back to my flat, detouring via the supermarket to grab some food for tonight’s dinner, there to relax into the evening.