Today was a good day.
It started a decent and civilised hour – either my body has adjusted to New Zealand time or the alarm was set properly. Being up early enough meant that I was able to attend to some ‘household’ chores – washing primarily – before setting out on the adventure I had planned for the day.
And the plan was to visit Cornwall Park and, in particular, One Tree Hill that sits at the centre of the park. Cornwall Park sits almost in the middle of the city of Auckland, and is simply a place of quietude and recreation, an open space that is available to anyone and everyone for recreation, for picnicking, for simply being. It is a ‘public’ space that had its origins in a private estate owned by Sir John Logan Campbell, termed the ‘father’ of Auckland, who was both a commercial and civic presence in the city from his arrival in 1840 until his death in 1912.
In 1901, Campbell gifted the land that is now Campbell Park to the ‘people of New Zealand’, together with an endowment that has meant that the land is free to be used by the people of New Zealand for ever. It is the kind of wonderful philanthropic largesse that was common among some of the successful and wealthy of the day. And while there was certainly some aspect of self-memorial involved in the gift – Campbell is still remembered one hundred years after his death – the sense of gift is still very much central to the existence of Cornwall Park in the life of the City of Auckland today.
At the heart of Cornwall Park is One Tree Hill, and at the top of One Tree Hill is an obelisk that marks the final resting place of Sir John Logan Campbell. It was this obelisk that I noticed on Sunday as I was driving in from the airport and wondered what it signified. Some research – by which I mean reading through some of the guides mein host provided – revealed the significance of that landmark and I resolved to visit it at some point during my stay.
Today was that day.
I spent a delightful day in Cornwall Park, and although I didn’t walk all the way up to the peak of One Tree Hill – yes, I was lazy and drove – I did spend many hours just wandering through the park, looking at the plants and trees that are lovingly tended, watching the sheep and cattle who graze in the fields (yes, it was my first sighting of sheep in New Zealand), and lunching and coffee-ing at some of the delightful eateries scattered in various parts of the park. It was peaceful and a simple delightful way to spend my day.
The photographs I took from the peak of One Tree Hill, including those of the obelisk, can be found here.
By the time I had wandered for several hours, it was indeed time to return to my flat, to eat, and to retire to bed for an early day.