FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Pigeons, planes and putting

Posted in Auckland, New Zealand by folkestonejack on January 7, 2016

The morning saw me head to the Auckland Museum for an exhibition celebrating the 75th anniversary of Air New Zealand which is open in the special exhibitions hall until 22nd May 2016

A light amongst the trees on the Centennial Walkway

A light amongst the trees on the Centennial Walkway, on the walking route between the Auckland Museum and the City Centre

The early history of aviation in New Zealand is a fascinating story that I knew relatively little of until today. I was particularly struck by the enchanting notion of the Pigeongram service which began in 1897 with a letter delivered 93km to Great Barrier Island and was still very much in operation at the start of the twentieth century (the service operated for 11 years in total). It had some downsides, most notably that if the birds got hungry they ate the letters!

The footage of New Zealand’s first international airport at Mechanics Bay was equally fascinating. At this time there was no runway – instead, passengers travelled by flying boat, landed in the water and disembarked onto a pier (if the film was anything to go by, dressed in their smartest attire). Today, the site is a container port.

Besides a thorough history of the airline, the exhibition included recreations of the Solent flying boat and DC-8 cabins, information about the tragic disasters to have befallen the airline (such as the terrible Mt Erebus crash in Antarctica) and the future of air travel. All quite superb and well worth checking out.

A section of the Lost in Time golf course (complete with moving dinosaur tail!)

A section of the Lost in Time golf course (complete with moving dinosaur tail!)

After leaving the Auckland Museum behind I headed towards the city centre via the Centennial Walkway, an easy walk of some 15-20 minutes. The afternoon delivered some rather superb ice cream, a closely fought game of mini golf at another of the fabulous Lilliputt golf courses (complete with a memorable hole in a glow in the dark ‘gold mine’ section) and a quick dip into the Auckland Art Gallery (which I very much regret having too little time to do justice to).

To end the day we had a rather superb meal at the Sakebar Nippon Restaurant in Epsom (and the memorable experience of your arrival through the door being announced with drums) and a screening at the Lido a couple of doors down. The Lido is a rather lovely refurbished cinema from the 1920s with stylish lounges and the most luxurious of seats. A real treat.

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