Fair warning…this post is going to be a dumping ground for Auckland photos.
The start of our two week trip started in Auckland, which is in northern New Zealand. We left LAX for our overnight flight at 10:30 PM on a Friday, and after 12 hours in the air (plus crossing the international dateline), we landed in Auckland at 7:30 AM on Sunday. We didn’t plan for much that day, knowing we would most likely be jet-lagged. We spent the day walking a good portion of the city center, visited a couple of parks, took a Fullers harbor cruise, and enjoyed the Viaduct Harbor and the Britomart areas. We stayed at the Mercure Auckland Hotel by the harbor, which made it easy to access everything that we did. We lucked out with a great harbor view from our room, too!
I can understand why it’s called “The City of Sails”—not only are there tons of sailboats (HUGE ones for that fact), but America’s Cup happens here (which we missed by just over a week). The sailboats kept in the harbor were seriously impressive. There’s a picture of one of the sailboats that raced in America’s Cup below—huge. I loved the colorful stripes in the Viaduct area leading towards the drawbridge. We even got to see the bridge go up once in order to let a sailboat through.
Auckland is also a major shipping port, so we saw large shipping boats full of containers. Auckland is trying to reuse some of those empty shipping containers throughout the harbor area since it cost companies too much to send empty ones back. I didn’t get too many photos of these, but some were reconfigured for public restrooms, lounge areas, and to display large TVs.
We stopped at a place called the Elliott Stables for lunch. It was such a cute (and almost hidden) place. You walked in and there’s a hallway and large open room filled with mismatched tables for people to sit at after ordering food from one of the surrounding 12 restaurants. We opted for a pepperoni pizza from De Niro. While it was tasty, the pepperoni was definitely different than what we’re used to here in the US.
We learned one reason why you don’t tip at restaurants in New Zealand—you order from the bar. Sure, some places have table service with servers, but when you first walk into a restaurant/bar and if you’d like food or drink, you walk up to the bar and order. We didn’t know this and I’m sure looked confused. We also quickly learned how expensive food and drink are down in New Zealand. It’s normal to spend $7-9 NZD for a pint of beer. Apparently their alcohol tax is ridiculously high. Thank goodness our money went further while in New Zealand.
We were exhausted by the end of our first day—the travel had caught up with us. We got an appetizer and a couple of pints from Tyler Street Garage, followed with gelato and a walk down the Viaduct harbor. Off to Rotorua early the next morning!
My overall opinion on Auckland:
I thought Auckland was a nice city, and it was easy to walk through downtown, the central business district and harbor areas. It seemed to be the starting point for many vacationers we talked to throughout our trip, which it was for us as well. I also felt like it was a good introduction to our trip and the country since the town wasn’t extremely crowded with tourists, though I expect it will be as the months get warmer. While there was plenty more city to explore, we both said that one day is all we needed in Auckland. If we had time more we would have taken the ferry to visit Devonport or Rangitoto Island and hiked around.
Places We Ate:
• Shaky Isles / coffee for me
• De Niro at the Elliott Stables / mentioned above
• Tyler Street Garage / the decor, setting and location were great, but we didn’t care for the food, service or the clientele
• Valentino’s Gelato