Today I woke up at 7:30am. It was pouring rain so I decided that I would drive to the Museum of Transportation and Technology (MOTAT) instead of walking there. It was supposed to be an hours walk away, but the drive is only supposed to take about twenty minutes. I wondered why traffic in Auckland was so horrific for its size, and I eventually found out why, but more on that later. I prepared an egg skillet for breakfast. The drive to MOTAT took nearly 40 minutes, which is pretty bad considering it is only 5.5km away from where I was staying.
MOTAT is comprised of two spots; the World War 2 aviation museum, and then the technology and transportation museum is a short tram ride away. The tram is one of only a few remaining tram systems in New Zealand; more on this later.
The aviation museum was quite large and went into New Zealand’s history and involvement in the war. Their aviation fleet was composed of mainly DeHavilland aircraft, most of which were manufactured right in Wellington, New Zealand. The plant actually had a lot of difficulties ranging from finding enough employees (women were eventually hired, uncommon in that era, because the men were at war), numerous floods, high winds, and golf balls because airplane production started before the factory could even be finished or had windows. I also learned about the bouncing bombs that were used in World War 2 to blow up and break down dams.
It was 12:15pm when I left the aviation museum. I went back into my camper to make myself a quick lunch before hoping on tram number 893, a 1944 SW6 tram on lease from Melbourne, to go down to the second MOTAT area. A few trams are on a long term lease from Melbourne, which is one of only a few places in the world that still has a successful wide scale tram system.
Upon arriving at the second MOTAT location i was overwhelmed by the amount of school children on a field trip, so I did my best to avoid them. The second MOTAT location has over a half dozen buildings with different displays in them ranging from technology, trains, steam pumps, arctic displays, and my personal favorite was the tram display.
Once upon a time Auckland actually had one of the most successful tram networks, at its time, in the world. It would be equivalent to what we now realize Melbourne for. The system was over 70km in length at its height in the 1930s and 1940s. The electric tramway in Auckland was initially a public/private venture by the British Electric Traction Company in London and the Auckland Borough Councils, eventually taken over by the Auckland City Corporation in 1919 and operated until 1956 when the Master Transportation Plan emphasizing motorways was favoured. The tram network was quickly ripped up and replaced by diesel and trolleybuses as part of a “modernization” program.
Ridership fell from a 1954 average level of 290 public transport trips per person per year, to only 41 trips per person per year in 1999. In 1954 58 percent of people used public transport, now that number is around 15 percent. Auckland has a similar population as my home town, Calgary, at around 1.4 million people. Calgarian’s love to drive and don’t really favour public transport, but it’s not that bad in comparison to Auckland. The entire city is gridlocked and the reverse thinking of its municipal government in the 1950’s has absolutely crippled the city in gridlock. They had a great system and removed it, whereas Calgary never really planned properly for public transport until now, but is seeing light at the end of the tunnel. To this day I would say Melbourne easily has one of the most successful transit systems I’ve seen for its size. It’s clean and supports 5 million people quite well.
After I was done at the second MOTAT area I took the same tram number back to my camper at the first MOTAT location.
It was time to get some more groceries, so I drove to a nearby grocery store to stock up. It was now time to meet Anne to go up the Sky Tower. I parked my camper at the same spot as the night before, and did the half hour walk to her hostel in the pouring rain. The weather conditions didn’t look good for the Sky Tower, but we both were leaving Auckland tomorrow so we decided to go up anyways. The view was absolutely white out conditions, but we made the most of it by having some ice cream! I had vanilla bean and Anne had raspberry orange sherbet. Mine was better, but she’s convinced I’m boring and that hers was better…
After the Sky Tower we went in search of food because we were both hungry. She had never had Vietnamese food before, and I was craving it again, so I suggested we go to a place just around the corner. She ordered a spicy chicken curry soup, which was actually pretty good, and I ordered my regular sate beef pho, which wasn’t the best I’ve had. We said our goodbye’s and j went back to my camper and tried to get some sleep. On my way back to my camper I saw an amusing marvel comics creation made from sticky notes in office windows. Someone’s getting paid to have fun…
I went to bed at about 9:30pm, and was woken up at midnight with a terrible howling wind like something you would have heard out of a horror movie. It really gave me the chills. I checked the weather report and the wind gusts were around 100 kilometres per hour. I put up with it for a bit, but decided that it was time to move. I found a free place to park about an hour inland in Mercer. I eventually got to sleep at about 2:00am and slept through the rest of the night.