Each year the Auckland Lantern Festival lights up the Auckland Domain in celebration of the Chinese New Year. I decided come rain or high waters I want to attend it this year. We left home at a respectable hour as we didn’t want to get there too early as the effect of the lanterns won’t be as visible during daylight. We certainly didn’t expect the obstacles during our lengthy journey.
What usually is a 20 minute effortless drive on the motorway on a Saturday night turned out to an hour being stuck in traffic. It was evident that several hundred other motorists had the same idea as us. Once we got to the off ramp we had a choice of turning right unto main road leading to the domain or going left, away from the crowd and approach the domain from the opposite direction. We turned left, hoping to outsmart the others, but what we had forgotten is that the event already started at 4pm and there are 10 000’s visitors going through the gates therefor EVERYONE will try to find parking slightly further and walk the distance. Every street, every car park every spot was taken. We drove for another 20 minutes just searching for a parking. We arrived in New Market, which was buzzing with activity from people walking the streets and pubs and restaurants feeding the hungry masses. We ended up in a car park right next to the New Market train station. I didn’t want to tell my husband “I told you so” as my suggestion was to take the train in to avoid traffic and then walk the rest of the way as it was a lovely summers evening. We walked the additional 25 minutes to the Domain and then obstacle number 3 stared us in the face…the sea of event goers, literally thousands of people. They didn’t exaggerate that 200 000 people where expected to attend the event over the 3 days it’s open.
It felt like you have to fight for a glimpse of the lantern displays. I calmly waited my turn to take photos of the different displays, some were easier than others to access. I felt bad for the kids because they weren’t able to see much. My son being smaller in size politely squeezed where he could to view the displays. The grounds are HUGE, and I think the organisers made a worthy attempt to spread the displays out, as they had to make space for the street market food stalls, the vendors, entertainers and have grounds available where people can sit have enjoy their meals or to just rest before the treacherous journey back.
We headed back shortly after 10pm and there were still people coming into the grounds. We made a quick stop to get some drinks to help ease the quench of the walk ahead, and safely made it home just before 11pm.
Been there, done that, took a photo.