For 30 months, from January 2018 through June 2020, Cruise through History is on constant travel, sharing stories on cruise ships and at book clubs, while traveling the world. Check here to see new stories. The calendar is on this website. There are so many new stories to capture.
A frequent question at book events asks when is the best time to travel. The best answer is – go when you can and consider the cruise line itineraries. The cruise lines follow the weather. They take you to the best, and safest, places at all the peak times.
This year starts with January/ February in New Zealand. If it were not so far from everywhere, the country would be overwhelmed with visitors. Once here, you will not want to leave. New Zealanders, Kiwi, are welcoming. Just do not bring fruit or flowers. Environmental security is a prime concern. Too many species are under threat.
This trip begins in Auckland. Although I have been repeatedly told to avoid the big city, that would have been a mistake. Travel in the rough is great sport in New Zealand. Judging from the number of outdoor gear shops, the city is a frequent starting point for heavy boot exploration. Tour companies offer bungee jumping, zip line trips, and volcano hiking. For those not testing the limits of physical endurance, Auckland is the place to stay.
Central old-town Auckland runs down Queen Street. In the early days the street was a ditch that divided upper and lower-class city residents. Today it transports visitors from Captain Cook pier to Aotea Square, the plaza of the former City Hall, now the residence of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, and its home venue for performance.
Reaching out from the Town Hall are other cultural icons of Auckland’s central historic district: the 1929 Civic Theatre, 1915 Myers Park and the 1887 Auckland Art Gallery/Toi prominent Tamaki. The Civic Theatre is a classic of the pre-depression era movie houses, with its Moorish lobby and theatre ceiling, which replicates an open sky of twinkling stars. The theatre is enjoying a revival in the twenty-first century after a restoration and starring role in the movie remake of King Kong.
The building housing the Auckland Art Gallery began as a free library. The French Chateau style building was one of the first civic institutions in the city. In 2008, the central courtyard structures of the chateau were removed and a two-year, new-build steel and glass gallery was inserted that enhances display space for the 15,000 objects in the collection, without overwhelming and altering the foundational historic building. The gallery is the largest art institution in New Zealand.
The Auckland Art Gallery backs up to Albert Park, the core historic setting of Auckland. First it was the site of Te Horotiu Pa, the walled settlement of Maori, next to the stream, made into a covered canal, over which Queen Street and central Auckland was developed. In 1840, the site became home to Albert Barracks, the British military installation, active during Maori wars and protecting commerce to and from the islands. Walls from the fort are still visible in the park. Today a portion of the original fort grounds are the campus of the University of Auckland.