I thought Auckland was the capital city of New Zealand but now I’ve learnt that it’s actually Wellington (why is my geography so appalling? This is like Dubrovnik all over again). So, maybe I can’t say that I’ve been to the capital but who cares – Auckland was awesome and you should definitely read this post to find out why.
Auckland is a little different to all the other places we’ve visited in New Zealand over the years – mainly because high-rise buildings exist and there is actually traffic on the roads… shock!
Despite being my least favourite city in terms of visuals it was one of my favourites for activities… there’s just so much to do! We were based in the centre of town in a flat with amazing views and great connections to surrounding points of interest – no complaints there!
To make all of our lives easier, I’m going to bullet point the key things we got up to and you can see if Auckland sounds like the type of place you’d like to vist:
EXPLORING THE CITY
So, this is the first thing I do in every new city – I look around! It’s great because you can mentally note down things you’d like to go back and re-visit and you’re not restricted to a map so you end up just walking wherever your inner sat-nav tells you to go and finding the hidden gems!
Auckland is big! There’s the city centre – where all the hustle and bustle is – but there’s also beaches, islands, galleries and green areas just a short drive away. Overall, my parents were less impressed than I was… I do think Auckland appeals more to a younger crowd. It reminds me a lot of London – where 20-somethings head straight after university, pay far too much for accommodation and spend 1 hour stuck in traffic for what should be a 5 minute journey. I’d be willing to tolerate those things for the sake of having such beautiful scenery on my doorstep.
Now, with everything that I’m about to say, it may seem like I spent my entire holiday inside of/jumping off/walking around the edge of this place. To be fair, that’s probably not far from the truth… The SkyTower is so great though, purely because there’s so much to do! Restaurants, shops, casinos, observation decks and (for the brave) skywalks and skyjumps – you name it, they got it
Turns out I was one of the brave ones. I, not only, tiptoed around the edge of the building but I jumped off the top of it too! It’s not really a bungee, it’s more like a wire with a soft foam landing pad at the bottom (no bounce back). It was terrifying having to convince myself to step off the platform and I started to regret my decision but as soon as it was over, I obviously wanted to get right up there again!
The skywalk is a lot easier and definitely more suited to the family. You are firmly attached to the bar above you, meaning that you can dangle over the edge, walk blinfolded and swing from side to side to your heart’s content. At first, my Dad panicked but by the end he was loving life – so it’s definitely worth giving it a go even if you’re a little bit scared of heights!
I’m not actually a Lord of The Rings fan (as I revealed last year when we took a LOTR tour around Queenstown) but I can still appreciate the films when I have to. My Mom is a major fan and had always wanted to tick Hobbiton off her bucket list (I’ll warn you – there’s a hefty price tag on this daytrip). We strolled around the movie set, had a buffet lunch in an exquisitely themed tent and had some unique LOTR flavoured drinks in the Hobbit pub. It turned out to be a really fun day and of course, we got some classic pictures!
WAITOMO GLOW-WORM CAVES
As part of the Hobbiton tour, we also got entry into the Waitomo Glow Worm caves. Unfortunately, there is a ‘No Photography’ rule in place so I didn’t get chance to capture the magic but you have to believe me when I say it was a surreal type of beautiful in there! There’s a guided tour on foot and then a boat ride through the caves. I’ve heard some rumours that there are other (potentially better) glow worm caves across New Zealand that do allow photography and have a much more affordable entry price. I’ll go on a hunt next time I’m there to find out if this is true!
A great surfing beach where all the sand is jet black. Come rain or shine, Piha is an absolute must-see if you find yourself in Auckland.
As with every NZ city and town there is a ton of good hiking in Auckland. With various viewpoints dotted around all over town and marked hiking trails for you to explore, it’s very hard to get bored.
Just outside of Auckland is a place called Ponsonby Central. It’s a shopping/eating centre with a million different quirky stores. We had lunch here – the food was organic and delicious and we all agreed that the vibe in the area was electric! Super chic and young, whilst still being a little bit grimy. Hard to explain… I guess kind of like the Shoreditch of Auckland!
NEW YEARS EVE
We rang in the New Year together as a family watching the fireworks by the harbour after a fancy meal in town. The fireworks were a little bit underwhelming but it was kind of cool to be the first country in the world to celebrate the new year! The walk home was hectic – thousands of people trying to make it home all at the same time and of course there were drunk people passed out and beer bottles left rigt and centre. I quite liked the atmosphere though – it felt really friendly and everyone was supportive of each other and in generally good spirits! The Kiwi’s do New Years Eve very well and I hope to be back again for 2017!
In other news, my Dad decided he wanted to get matching tattoos and started perfecting his design. It’d be a mix of the New Zealand maori symbols and the Hindi ‘Om’, which I could totally get on board with. I’m just convinced that he’ll bail when he finds out that there is actually some degree of pain in the tattoo process…
That’s all for now, folks. My time in New Zealand has come to an end once again and so I head back to England to hand in some coursework essays (that I haven’t started yet) and say goodbye to my Poppa for another 6 months! It’s been a pleasure – I’ve loved every second and I’ll be counting down the days until I’m back on this side of the world again.