Two Days in Auckland
Hello from New Zealand! Our adventure has officially hit the road and we’ve begun with a quick couple of days in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland. With around four million people we felt Auckland had a bit of a San Francisco vibe with its hilly streets and hip outdoorsy feel but a Seattle look when viewing the city from one of the neighboring islands.
After three flights and crossing 18 different time zones we arrived at our Air BnB around 1:00am Auckland time and luckily were able to fall right asleep after almost two full days of traveling. We awoke to a beautiful morning (70+ degrees) and wandered into a nearby café for some much needed coffee and breakfast. We stayed in the Ponsonby neighborhood, just outside the city center. The main street, also named Ponsonby, was lined with restaurants, bars and cafes. The café culture is all around as there are coffee stands everywhere but not the Starbucks drip style, quick grab and go we are accustomed to. A cup of black coffee is practically the same price as a Flat White or Cappuccino because everything is made fresh.
Steph and I wanted to embrace our short time in the city so we hit the ground running and headed toward the city center, figuring we should walk and wander, embracing that we just let winter for summer. Be it fate or blind luck but what was the first thing we come across on our way into the city? A function in a nearby park put on by the Auckland humane society for locals to adopt puppies. Of course, we stopped and Steph fell in love with a dozen different puppies and was even videoed by a local TV program, so if you’re a local in Auckland reading this, look out for Miss Dash of Adventure!
Auckland sits on the water, so we visited the wharf, explored their fish market and then walked all the way to a large park named the Auckland Domain. This was quite the trek and when we told others we had done this on foot, they kind of gave us a look that said, “take the bus next time.” Auckland Domain had some nice trails and big spaces for city events, and we stopped in an arboretum that reminded of us of the Lincoln Park conservatory. The whole thing kind of reminded me of Forest Park in St. Louis.
All in all, this would have sufficed for a very successful first day but after a quick shower we pushed on as Steph has a friend from Camp Sabra (yes, “our camp”) that now lives in Auckland. She took us to this great little Friday night event near the water that had multiple food trucks and was even showing the movie E.T. on a large water tower that evening. An entire movie wasn’t in the cards for us, but the food was tasty and so was the local beer and Feijoa cider.
We didn’t get back to our Air BnB until closer to 11:00pm but as we entered, there were our hosts entertaining a group of friends, drinking and eating fresh mussels they picked themselves that evening. They were really gracious and had us sit and eat with them and they were probably the biggest mussels we’d even seen. The whole thing was kind of funny to us, thinking about working an entire day on a Friday, then heading an hour away, picking mussels, coming home and cooking them finally eating at 11:00pm. I don’t think that would fly with our crew but things are a bit different over here. Well, only so different as their friends were from all over and one went to Michigan State for undergrad and another went to Wisconsin. Big 10 running deep in Auckland! All in all, a busy first day.
For day two in the Auckland area it was recommend to us that we take a ferry and explore one of the neighboring islands. We heard Waiheke was beautiful and had some great beaches but instead we chose Rangitoto Island as it was only a short 25-minute ferry and had a hike that was supposed to offer a great view at the end. The island was pretty interesting as no one lives there, no food is offered, essentially you come to hike and take pictures and then everybody out by the last ferry or you’re in for a cold night ahead. It was a good uphill hike that did provide tremendous views of the city, give or take 90 minutes’ roundtrip if you didn’t divert off to other side paths. There was a bit of side excitement as a hiker turned her ankle and the group she was with had to call in a helicopter evacuation to get her off the trail. It was pretty cool to see the rescuers at work and the woman seemed to be in good spirits considering the situation!
So far so good, for New Zealand. We really enjoyed Auckland but have to hit the road to see some smaller towns near lakes and outdoor activities. My first time driving on the other side of the road, with the steering wheel being on the right side of the car should be something else!