We flew into Auckland from Los Angeles, in mid-September (2018) and instantly noticed the fresh air of what seemed like home. Our flight times worked out that we were able to have a good nights sleep with minimal chance of jet lag. All we had to manage was staying awake from 6am (which was 10am LA time) to as late as possible… we made it to 9pm!
We dropped our bags at the Queen Street Backpackers Hostel and headed straight towards the water! This hostel was a perfect location in the Central Business District of Auckland, with clean rooms, large communal areas at cheap prices!
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Coast to Coast
So our first day was spent sleepily bumbling around Auckland City, beginning with the bay. We stumbled across the Coast to Coast walkway and eagerly began this route backwards from the ferry terminal (where you head over to Waiheke and Devonport). Admittedly, we didn’t get very far before finding a bench in the Lovers Park by the Duck Pond. We ended up having a snooze in the sun! For less tired travellers this is an epic 16km walk that is signposted with yellow Coast to Coast signs on lampposts along the route. Let us know in the comments how good the full walk is!
In New Zealand we were fortunate to have friends, friends of friends and friends family members dotted throughout the country. Auckland was our first chance to meet up with our old school friend, Tom and his friend Shane. It was great having a local (Shane) to show you around as you really get to know the places you visit much better and often get to see the hidden spots. Our first stop was the world renowned Sky Tower. Our budgets and nerves only stretched to going in the elevator up 186 metres to the viewing platform. Of all the viewing platforms we have been on this was the most impressive with 360 views of Auckland as well as looking down through the glass floor. If your lucky you may see someone do a free fall down the side of the tower and there are options to do a sky walk.
Our local tour guide Shane, took us on a walk up to the top of Mount Eden for sunset. This is known as Maori sacred land and you can walk around a crater formed on the top of the mountain. We wondered why there were so many people sitting facing away from the sunset, it seemed a little daft to us. So we sat in the ‘best’ position for the sunset but then realised it was most properly the windiest place to sit… but so worth it. The sky lit up with orange, yellow and purple tones, a great way to end the day.
Waiheke Island is a ‘must-do’ in my humble opinion. It allows you to escape the city life on a remote island full of vineyards and nature walks. We woke up early to catch the ferry across to complete a hike before our friends arrived. Note: The ferry takes between 20-40mins and costs $38 for a return fare. The ferry website highlights all the walking trails but be sure to check which ones are open at the tourist information on arrival. We obviously didn’t do this and had a few mishaps. The walk was meant to cover Church Bay, Omerau Beach and Little Omerau in 2h30. However, we only got as far as Church Bay! Due to earthquake damage and minor flooding the walkway was flooded meaning to continue to walk the track we had to get rather wet! With my wet jeans and feet we crossed the bay to find that the rest of the track was closed due to the cliff faces being too dangerous from earthquake damage. So we got wet again and retraced our steps to meet our friends at the winery. I’m sure you will agree that the views are incredible, especially at Church Bay so we were happy with our efforts.
Fancy a nights stay on Waiheke? Click here for hotels on Booking.com
The wineries on Waiheke Island are top-notch and surrounded by pure beauty. You can sip your wine in the gardens, sit on a picnic blanket and enjoy stunning food. To remain in budget we shared a vegetarian pizza! We visited Cable Bay and experienced the wine tasting at Mud Rock winery too. The standard wine tasting included 4 tastings of white and rose wine for only $10 NZ (£5). At Mud Rock, we had incredible views for sunset that definitely ended the day on a high.
One way to nurse a wine hangover is to visit one of the many food markets in Auckland. In our short time there we visited the Night Food Festival that moves around Auckland and the French Market. At the markets you will find food from all around the world, handmade crafts and tasty smoothies!
While exploring Auckland city, take advantage of there many green spaces. Albert Park was our favourite place to relax and it felt rather British with a statue of Queen Victoria in the centre. I also loved the typing error on this statue – can you spot it?
Hint Hint: Bottom Line… ^
Free Walking Tour
I often mention the free walking tours, mainly because they are so awesome! If a city or town has a FWT we will be there as it is a great way to orientate yourself, learn some history and best use of your time. The tour in Auckland with Louise is in our Top 10 walking tours, and we have done a lot! Join her or her colleagues at the Ferry terminal at 10am for a 2hr cultural tour.
Go the Distance in Auckland,