Five minutes walk from the Auckland CBD is a huge park full of half naked tourists, students attempting to read the latest photocopies from their lecturer in size 8 font and office workers getting away from their high-rise cubicle lifestyle.
This park has the essence of what can make a city more liveable. An inner city recreation space that people flock to in the spirit of community. This is not a space for selling products and for the over-regulated monotony of urban streets. It’s a place for people to meet and relax.
I was walking through the park the other day and there was a bunch of people practicing acrobatic stunts on a slack line so I stopped to watch them. Then they turned to me and asked if I wanted to join in. Admittedly I haven’t got the kind of balancing skills that they had, but it didn’t matter. They just wanted me to share in the fun.
Imagine this kind of thing happening on Queen st or Britomart or Wynyard Quarter. It just wouldn’t happen. Most of the urban areas in Aucckland are lacking some kind of interactive public space. The grand scale of Aotea just seems to separate people rather than bring them together.
So now I feel endeared to Albert Park and I feel like I want to give back to the space and interact there future. It’s like a bastion of solace in this sometimes banal metropolis.
I went on a date recently and we ended up Albert Park. So the most romantic place to be ended up being up a tree! We climbed one of the many Morton Bay fig trees and found solemnity and levity from a few metres above the heads of the rest of the world. Also this was after dark so the tree offered a safe place to watch the dodgier nightlife descend on the park.
The Police and security do patrol the park intermittently at night but it is recommended to only go there during the day. Apparently in the 1970’s the park only offered restricted access to the Public. But after public protest the park was opened permanently.
The future of this park also seems fascinating. Underneath the park are 3.5 kilometres of World War Two tunnels that are sealed from the public. Thirty Thousand students are studying at Auckland University right next to these tunnels, with many archaeology and tourism students. These two faculties would benefit immeasurably from the opening of these tunnels.
Also if the entrance to these tunnels at the top of Victoria street was opened this would become a great activity for tourists to access right from the centre of the city. European travellers in Auckland often bemoan the lack of history here. Perhaps we should give them what they want. If the tunnels do get opened then Bikeman will be the first to offer pedicab tours to the tunnels
Until then I will just have to be content with enjoying the strange artworks, incredible trees and company of sun-baking tourists who know that the best parts of Auckland might not be found in the shopping centres.
Riding through the streets of Auckland I see a lot of incredible, weird and broken things at the small end of the night. A lot of folk having the ride of their life: A lot of people devolving. These are my reflections.