Cyril's Tour - From Grafton to Gallipoli

Posted by Website Admin on April 24, 2017

Cyril's Tour - From Grafton to Gallipoli

Historian Laurie Barber profiled Aucklander Cyril Bassett (pictured), the country’s first Victorian Cross recipient during World War One, in the following excerpt:

Cyril Royston Guyton Bassett was born at Auckland, New Zealand, on 3 January 1892.  He attended Grafton School, Auckland Grammar School and the Auckland Technical College.

On 10 August 1914 Bassett was attested as a sapper in the New Zealand Divisional Signal Company, at that time attached to the Corps of New Zealand Engineers. He sailed with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force on 16 October that year. Following divisional training in Egypt, the company was thrust into the fighting at Gallipoli when it landed on 25 April 1915. Between 7 and 9 August 1915 Bassett, now a corporal, was involved in an action that won him the Victoria Cross, the first awarded to a New Zealand serviceman in the First World War. During the ferocious battle for Chunuk Bair, he and a handful of companions laid and subsequently repaired a telephone wire to the front line. In full daylight and under continuous and heavy fire, Bassett 'dashed and then crept, then dashed and crept again, up to the forward line'. The lines were cut again and again, but Bassett and his fellow linesmen went out day and night to mend them. He was always modest about his actions, later claiming, 'It was just that I was so short that the bullets passed over me.'

Bassett was evacuated through illness to Britain on 13 August 1915. He rejoined his unit in France in June 1916, and on 21 September 1917 was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He was twice wounded in action on the western front and returned to New Zealand in December 1918. Before his release from the NZEF in January 1919 he was promoted to full lieutenant.

After the war Bassett resumed his career with the National Bank, serving in Auckland and as manager in Paeroa. He retained his link with the military by joining the Territorial Forces.

Throughout his military career he was regarded as a popular and hard-working officer.

Cyril Bassett retired from banking in January 1952. During his retirement he served the Devonport community as a justice of the peace. He died on 9 January 1983 at his home in Stanley Bay, Auckland, at the age of 91, survived by his wife and two daughters. Bassett had been the only New Zealander serving in a New Zealand unit to win the Victoria Cross at Gallipoli. He had been reluctant, however, to talk about the award saying, 'All my mates ever got were wooden crosses.' Following his death, his widow donated the Bassett VC Memorial Trophy to the Royal New Zealand Corps of Signals; the trophy depicts Bassett laying a line at Gallipoli. It is awarded annually to the corps' most outstanding corporal – the rank Bassett held when he won his Victoria Cross.

Acknowledgement:   Laurie Barber. 'Bassett, Cyril Royston Guyton', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 24 April 2017)


Exercising Mind and Body – Auckland hosts it all

Posted by Website Admin on April 12, 2017

Exercising Mind and Body – Auckland hosts it all

One of the great things about NZ’s largest city is it plays host to myriad national and international events throughout the year. 2017 is no exception.

Next week Auckland will be swamped by ‘aging’ athletes (minimum age is around 30 years old !) who will converge on the city for the World Masters Games from April 22 - 30. With more athletes than the Olympics, the World Masters is the single biggest multi-sport event on earth. Around 25,000 participants will take part in 28 sporting activities including cycling, rugby, sailing, shooting and weight lifting all over the city. The central entertainment hub for the Games is downtown at the Cloud on Queens Wharf. There's an exciting programme of performance events planned across the week - both for Aucklanders and athletes.

Accompanying the athletes are their supporters which easily brings the total number of Games visitors to around 50,000. This is terrific for Auckland’s economy – even though traffic and accommodation woes abound. Countering that is the plethora of things for travellers to do and see here. A short guided walk with a local expert being one very good way to kill a couple of hours and come away with loads of fascinating insights into this wonderful city. Check out Aucky Walky's highlights tour.

Following the Masters Games is the Writers Festival – set down for week 16 -21 May. For the past 15 years the Writers Festival has been staged in Auckland. This year it involves over 180 public events, gathering together 170 of the world’s best writers and thinkers with over 24,000 Festival goers and up to 7,000 young people to celebrate the world of books and ideas. What this festival has done is help cement Auckland as a world class host of not only sports but cultural events.

If you are a visitor to Auckland engaging in one or both of these events – enjoy ! For locals, see this as the perfect opportunity to showcase the City of Sails. 

Auckland - the mystery behind its name

Posted by Website Admin on March 31, 2017

Auckland - the mystery behind its name

Have you ever wondered the obvious - “How did Auckland get its name?”    

The answer harks back to a favour granted by one friend to another. Auckland was named by New Zealand’s first Governor, William Hobson, out of gratitude to his esteemed friend George Eden the Lord of Auckland (pictured), who had revived Hobson’s flagging naval career.  

At the tender age of 10, Hobson was enlisted in the Royal Navy and rose to the rank of lieutenant by the age of 22, coinciding with the end of the George Eden, Earl of AucklandNapoleonic Wars in 1815.  Hobson was then posted to the West Indies where he reached the rank of Captain, but was overlooked for subsequent promotions despite his ambition. Until Lord Auckland, the Governor General of India at the time, intervened and gave Hobson command of the HMS Rattlesnake and a new mission to scope out New Zealand. The mission’s goal was no walk in the park. Hobson was instructed to gauge the Maori position on a formal sovereignty agreement between the Crown and the country’s first people.

It was this mission and Hobson’s subsequent report which set him up for his next command.  To deliver a Treaty to New Zealand on behalf of Queen Victoria and gain the wholesale agreement of Maori Chiefs to English governance. With the goal achieved in February 1840, Hobson then formally established both the colony and the new government. 

But Hobson  never forgot his lucky break and who scratched his back. Following successful negotiations with the local tribe, Ngati Whatua, Waitamata Harbour was declared  the hub of the new capital so a name was hastily required  for the settlement.  Hobson not only named the city after his patron in September 1840 but bestowed Lord Auckland’s family name, Eden, to the soaring cone that graces the city’s skyline, Maungawhau-Mt Eden.  And of course, at a later date,  Eden Park, home of the mighty All Blacks was another famous landmark named after the career diplomat George Eden, Lord of Auckland.

Lord Auckland died in 1849, following what was described as a fit. He never set foot in his namesake Auckland city or married so the earldom became extinct on his death. The title of Auckland however remains an enduring link to New Zealand’s colonial past and a pact made between two intrepid mates.  

Two Legs Good, Four Wheels Bad

Posted by Website Admin on March 22, 2017

Two Legs Good, Four Wheels Bad

Here’s a number for you – 44,000.

That’s how many cars were added to Auckland’s roads last year.

Based on this depressing trend (with its upward trajectory) it is little wonder Auckland has been labelled as one of the most congested cities in the world – up there with Hong Kong, Bangkok (been there, done that and nearly missed my flight ) and most of Australia’s big cities.

So, what does this mean in terms of time spent doing not much and not getting very far, in your car?  According to Tom Tom’s Traffic Index report 2016, drivers in New Zealand's biggest city now spend an extra 45 minutes each day stuck in rush hour traffic, the equivalent to 172 hours, or four working weeks in a year. Despair.

And the thing is ‘rush hour’ now extends way beyond the traditional 7-9 am , 5-7 pm . It would be fair to say Auckland’s main arterial routes are packed pretty much all day.

This traffic problem raises a bigger economic issue for Auckland . We are a population of 1.37 residents and we welcome in excess of 2 million international visitors per year ( that’s not including domestic travellers ). And that number is fast growing.

People want to come and see our fantastic city – great sights, great food, a great arts and sporting scene, great harbours but getting around and eyeing these things is problematic because visitors can’t move that far, that fast. Will the congestion start to impact our visitor numbers with people thinking Auckland is in the too hard basket?

Hopefully not because we at Auckly Walky know how vibrant and fabulous our city is and we want to show it off. That’s why we think two legs good, four wheels bad (not quite the famous George Orwell quote – but you get my drift ?)

In two hours on foot (with a short bus ride to mix things up – and is quick thanks to the bus lane) you will see a solid chunk of inner Auckland – parks, side alley’s, the art gallery, infamous K’Rd,  Suffragette Square, new shopping precincts and the hub of our arts scene .   

While you are in Auckland your time is precious and the last thing to be doing is sitting in a car, stuck in traffic. Instead come on walk with us - book a tour here 

High and Dry in Auckland ? Never.

Posted by Website Admin on March 17, 2017

High and dry in Auckland? Never!

Welcome to Auckland – often mistaken as New Zealand’s capital city (that honour belongs to Wellington) and affectionally known as the City of Sails.

With a population of 1.4 million it's estimated nearly half of all Aucklanders own a recreational vessel – defined as a yacht or kayak, motorised run- about or one of those multi million dollar floating gin palaces otherwise known as superyachts. Out of interest,one of the largest superyacht berthing facilities in the Pacific region is Silo Marina in downtown Auckland. Currently in berth are Serenity J, Dragonfly, Sarissa, Dardanella, Mystere, Evviva, Legacy, Pursuit, and M5 if you want to nip down and have a look.

It’s not hard to see why Aucklanders are so fond of spending time on the water– Auckland boasts a very moderate climate (no snow in this city!) plus a magnificent coast line and body of water to play in.

There are actually two harbours surrounding Auckland .Waitematā Harbour is the main access by sea into Auckland and for this reason it is often referred to as Auckland Harbour. The other is the slightly shallower, south based Manukau Harbour .

Waitemata Harbour has long been the main anchorage and port area for the Auckland area, even before European settlers arrived. It’s well sheltered by the Hauraki Gulf and Rangitoto Island plus it hasn’t any dangerous shoals or major sand bars.

The name Waitemata, in Maori, means 'obsidian glass' - spectacular waters are said to sparkle like the dark volcanic glass that early settlers found in the area.

But before you head out on the water – get your land legs sorted. Come walk with Aucky Walky Tours and discover a plethora of onshore sights – check out our Tours page.  

We promise you the most informative and fun two hour tiki tour around central Auckland.