Saturday, October 7, 2017

Auckland by night at street level

Auckland sits somewhere on my radar, sure. Since I've lived in Wellington the bigger city has been a feature and occcasional destination. All trips bar one have been for work and that's ok. I now have the working traveller's familiarity with its airport, taxis, hotel rooms, food courts, and inner CBD meeting spaces. As such the city has assumed itself alongside other regular drop-offs with a similar sort of 'familiar anonymity'. I like visiting the place, and am reasonably comforable being a stranger there, but I don't really know it outside those spots, and one visit I'd really like to see its beaches, volcanic cones islands and western ranges instead of simply flying over them. And this year I'll be flying over them a lot more frequently, thanks to work.

Like any big city inner Auckland city has its own face, which fits with it being our most Pacific city, and our most Asian. Among the modestly ambitious post-80s skyscrapers the usual big city caches apply- everyone's there for business of some sort, dressed to impress. I feel older, less gainly, shabbier, just walking down Queen Street at key hours of the day.  There's still a lot of life in the main drag after business hours; when the office blocks empty out and people rsh for carparks, bus stops, ferries or the central britomart Station terminus for home. After half an hour a different sort of city dweller emerges, and this year it seemed a lot of that life has taken residence in its doorways and parks, and on its benches. There's less of that in Wellington, although more than there used to be, and I wonder, with weeks to go before the general election, whether anyone notices any more. By morning, you get the impression that in some places there's the gesture of support and charity: baked goods left still in their packets on park benches down Fort Street for anyone to take and use - and it seems that this does happen as intended.

And then by night Auckland comes alive again, particularly at street level where its laneways and sidestreets open their doors, spilling light out onto the pavement.I don't often walk alone at night on any city streets, but Auckland's are so busy, so constantly in movement that I've never felt actually alone. And there's always so much light to walk by.

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