After packing our bags and saying goodbye to our friends and life in Sydney, it was time to begin our latest adventure – starting with two months travelling around New Zealand in a campervan. There was a slight false start with our flight out of Sydney delayed by over three hours, however we finally arrived into Auckland just after 3am.
With a few days until we picked up our campervan to begin our road trip, the following morning we set about exploring New Zealand’s largest city.
We started with a walk along Queen Street, the cities’ main shopping street, before continuing along the waterfront. By this point the lack of sleep had already kicked in and we stopped for a much needed coffee at Federal and Wolfe. Thankfully it was almost as good as the perfect Sydney coffee that we are used to!
Our next stop was at Sky Tower, the landmark observation tower that dominates the Auckland skyline. Rising 328m from the ground, the tower is the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere, and the 25th tallest in the world. We had made a reservation for lunch at the rotating Orbit 360 restaurant, with this providing us with free access to the viewing platform before our meal.
The city had been described to us by several people as a mini version of Sydney, and as we walked around the observation deck there were clearly some similarities, with the vast harbour dominating the view. The many volcanos that Auckland is built on definitely make for a more interesting landscape, however the Harbour Bridge was a little pathetic in comparison to Sydney’s.
Taking the lift one floor higher to the restaurant, we enjoyed an excellent lunch as our view of the city gradually rotated, all the while reminding ourselves that this was one final treat before we embraced the budget traveller lifestyle.
Near to our hotel was the award-winning Lightpath, or Te Ara I Whiti as it is also known, a converted motorway off-ramp which now serves as a cycleway. The path is lined with 300 LED lights which can be used to create interactive displays. Although we only visited in daylight, the vivid pink path was still a sight to behold with great views of the city and Sky Tower in the distance.
We spent a leisurely afternoon wandering around the recently developed Wynyard Quarter. Previously an industrial area, it was opened to the public as part of the preparations for the 2011 Rugby World Cup and is now a popular waterfront destination for locals and tourists alike.
There was a variety of restaurants and bars lining the water, as well as luxury apartments, however we were far more interested in admiring the very expensive yachts on display. The area is overlooked by lots of modern looking office buildings, and it looked like a great location to work in.
We returned to the area at night, where Sito Park was clearly the place to be. There was a small pop-up dining area complete with food trucks and a bar, while there was also a large crowd gathered for a free outdoor cinema, with a film just about to start.
The park includes a gantry, and we climbed the stairs to the top where we could see the activity from above, with the bright lights of the city in the background.
We continued our walk along the harbour’s edge, and with darkness finally setting in on a long summer night, we could see the Harbour Bridge lit up in the distance and looking much better than it did in daylight.
We also found time to explore some areas further out of the city including Mount Eden, the highest natural point in Auckland and the most impressive of its many volcanic mounds. We took the short but steep walking trail to the summit, admiring the views of the city skyline from the summit, before following the path around the edge of the impressive 50m deep volcanic crater.
Our next stop was in Mission Bay, a waterfront suburb to the east of the city. We wandered along the beach, admiring the view across the harbour to Rangitoto Island (yet another volcano), before enjoyable the staple Kiwi meal of fish and chips.
Unfortunately our time in Auckland was limited, and we could have easily spent more time exploring the beautiful city. However it was time to pickup our campervan, and head out on the road where the real adventure would begin…