18th January – 20th January 2016
Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city, and was the country’s capital until trendy Wellington stole its crown.
It’s famous for being volcano land, and is the gateway between the airport and the Hauraki Gulf and Islands. Although I did not have time to explore the islands off Auckland’s coast I heard excellent things about them, and if I ever return to Auckland I would gladly spend a few days exploring them. On the whole though I would advise not to spend too much time in Auckland city, recover from your inbound flight and get going. The rest of new Zealand is so more.. well you’ll see!
Things to do:
- Day trip to Rangitoto Island.
Explore Volcanoes! The region is dotted with 48 volcanic cones, which provide amazing panoramic views of the city and harbour. Rangitoto Island is the largest of the volcanic cones, and is home to the world’s largest pohutukawa forest. Just a 25 minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland (frequent ferries run daily), it is the most iconic volcano and a favourite day trip destination for visitors, hikers and bird watchers. The shortest and most popular walk is directly to the summit – where you will be greeted by the spectacular 360-degree views that reach across the Hauraki Gulf. There are alternative routes to the summit (allow extra time), including a track that takes in the interesting lava tunnels and caves – bring a torch if you want to explore.
- Hauraki Gulf and Islands
Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf Marine Park encompasses 1.2 million hectares of coast, sea and islands – and there are many ways to explore it. The most popular island of the Hauraki Gulf is Waiheke, offering wonderful vineyards, olive groves, farm land and golden beaches – and is only a 35-minute ferry ride away from Auckland. Here you will taste award-winning wines at some of the 30 boutique vineyards and wineries, enjoy fine dining and pick up some lovely local artwork.
- Bungee Jump
- Sky Tower
- Walk the volcano for views of Auckland
- Shopping & Restaurants/café culture –
Shop till you drop and eat your heart out whilst in Auckland city centre. There is not much else to do once you have visited the SKy Tower (and bungee jumped off it if you’re a thrill seeker!)
How much time should I spend in Auckland?
I was not overly struck with Auckland. If you are a party goer, there are plenty of bars to keep you going. Otherwise I would leave this city after a night or two of rest – the rest of New Zealand has so much more to offer!
However If you wish to spend some time on the Auckland Islands, you will obviously need more time. As there are 40+ islands to choose from the amount of time you wish to spend exploring them is completely up to you!
I found Auckland Hostel accommodation was expensive and not particularly nice to stay in for the price I paid. The rest of the hostels around New Zealand were amazing compared to here, and that’s a fact not just my opinion. I stayed in three hostels whilst travelling between destinations in Auckland, and none of them were great.
Flashpacker TIP – Just pay the extra to Airbnb it or stay in a hotel for the night. Auckland hostels are rubbish unless you are looking to party, in which case Base is probably your best bet!
- Nomads Hostel – stayed here 18th-20th January 2016. Awful accommodation. The dorm rooms were tiny, cheap wooden bunk beds breaking and uncomfortable mattresses. There was no aircon and it was ridiculously hot in the building. Would not recommend this place!
- Stayed here 26-27th January. I was fortunately only here for 1 night between travelling from The Bay of islands and down to Hot Water Beach. I stayed in a female only dorm, but again there was no aircon, rooms were messy and getting up to the building was done in a dodgy elevator. Not keen to do that again.
- Stayed here 28-29th February 2016. Before leaving for Fiji, now with Jamie in tow we booked a double room at the YHA for 2 nights. No aircon made for ridiculously hot rooms which made trying to get to sleep unbearable. The building was dated, old and the place needs updating quite badly.
Basically stay in a dorm if you’re looking to party and not worried about a decent bed, or if you can put up with it for a night or two. Otherwise pay the extra for a small hotel or Airbnb!
I’m just going to throw it out there; I did not like Auckland all that much. I found it to be the same as any other major city; acting as the main transport hub, with lots of retail shopping and restaurants available with a few attractions conveniently located in the city centre for entertainment. But it lacked anything special. I also did not see much rain at all in New Zealand, given it was summer, but it was raining when I arrived from Australia, and it rained the day I left for Fiji, and it did not stop raining whenever I was there!
There is also not much to do in Auckland. Lots of shops if you are looking for that, and a good opportunity to purchase any clothing you think you may need for New Zealand, but my advice is spend a night or two and continue on. The rest of New Zealand is so much more amazing, so don’t waste your time hanging around in this city for long.
I spent 5 nights in Auckland overall; 2 at the start of my trip arriving from Australia, 1 on the way back down from the bay of islands on the route to Waitomo and 2 at the end of my trip before flying onto Fiji.
TIP – If flying in or out of Auckland to your next destination, do make sure you arrive the day before! As much as I advise leaving Auckland as soon as you can, there is nothing worse than trying to get to Auckland airport from another town the same day your flight departs – traffic is awful and it is not unusual to have long delays getting in or out the city. The airport security is also ridiculously on the ball – nothing gets pasts those kiwis! So ensure you don’t miss your flight by staying in Auckland the night before your flight, and get to the airport 2-3 hours before your departing flight.
Day 1 – 3
Upon landing after leaving Adelaide this morning, I arrived at around 4pm. It took me an hour to get through border control, and then a sniffer dog took an interest in my backpack and it needed to be searched. What was the cause you ask? Lavender! I carry around a little pouch of lavender in my backpack I bought from Croatia years ago to keep it smelling fresh, and they insisted it was an item that needed to be declared. As the item in question did not contain seeds, I narrowly missed a NZ$200 fine. So yeah, be careful – declare everything!
By the time I got to the hostel, it was late. I went for a short wander and found a little Mexican for dinner.
The next day I got all my washing done, wandered the town centre for a few hours, people watched while drinking coffee just off Queen Steet and caught up with writing in my travel Journal pretty much all afternoon. I had dinner at a Chinese food court which was surprisingly good and got an early night before needing to be at the bus station for 9am the following morning to start my trip on the Kiwi Bus heading up to the Bay of islands.
Next Stop – Bay of islands!