Very exited to start talking about NZ today! It was our dream, E. and I, for what? 6 years? I actually think we started to form that plan even before I had departed the USA, both of us being Lords of the Rings nerds… The plans turned serious when I found out the Rugby World Cup 2011 would be happening in NZ, and I promised myself then that I would assist the games from the land of all things rugby. I missed by a continent, I landed in Melbourne instead of Auckland, and it’s only in May 2012 that we fullfilled our dream. I first travelled NZ for a month with E., and as we left I promised her (and myself) that I would come back and finish what we had started. 5 months later, I landed in Christchurch and started a 5 months adventure in NZ.
I flew overnight from Melbourne to Auckland, and it’s only at 5 AM that very day that I realized E. would not land today as I thought all this time, but two days later… My first of many miscalculations of time difference!
Auckland, is an amazing city and I am not a city person at all! My favorite part of the city is the harbour, all the walking paths, the restaurants and pubs, the benches and pieces of arts. The huge sailing boats and the seagulls, it has it all.
When you have explored all the city, you must wonder in the bay. So much to see… I went 4 times in Auckland, each times for a few days. I hiked Rangitoto Island twice. Meaning ‘bloody sky’ in Maori, it is if I remember well the youngest volcano of the Bay. The first time I went, it was cloudy and rainy, I climbed all the way to the top, sweating and stuff, and we got so high we ended up in a cloud, with absolutly no view of the crater… It is a very special place, I liked the black earth, the views on the bay and the tiny houses.
When my Mom came over, we went to Waiheke Island, a bigger island on the bay, famous for being a wine region of NZ. Even if you’re not into wine, just for the hike and the gorgeous landscape, you must go. We had the chance to have a nice blue sky and sun all day, it was the very start of our road trip and set the tone! We had a tasting at Cable Bay -complete random choice – a beautiful estate with the most magnificent view on the Bay of Auckland!
In terms of food, I’ll just mention:
- Have a cider on one of the pub on the harbour, walk through the bridge, that’s the best place
- Fish and chips at the seafood market on the harbour
- Muffins at Pandoro’s on Queens St
- Mai Thai on Victoria St, the red curry is a must try!
- Ice cream at Giapo on Queen St
- Murder Burger, the evil cat experience!
In terms of accomodation, all the hostels will be very low standard compared to what you can find in the rest of NZ. I haven’t found any hostels that I actually felt good in… Here is what I’ve tried, from the worst to the best:
- Border’s Beyond: someone had recommended it to us (??) which is why we booked it even though it was far out of the center. It is managed by a lovely French man, but we hated it! Felt so horrible we spent most of our time outside wondering in the city or in our room… You have to pay for the showers (???) and they only last 8 minutes. It was dirty, rules everywhere (I remember something like ‘if you don’t wipe your dishes you will be fined 15 dollars), people staying there were creepy, no just horrible!
- Queen St Backpackers: wow. Just wow. Don’t know what to say about that one. First, you can’t get any cheaper, and you can’t get a better location than that. However… it is dirty beyond words. The bathrooms are individual, and I have no idea what words to say to describe them to you, because I’ve never seen anything like it before and I would have trouble finding something to compare it to. Not that it was dirty, it was just… weird. And a bit dirty… I slept terribly, but I found some nice people in there. Only stayed for half a night and it was too much already!
- Surf and Snow on Victoria St: very well located, very cheap, I booked a room in one of the big dorms. So I usually don’t mind the noise, but that was too much! The matresses were so thin I felt for my back the next morning! The kitchen is in the basement (you basically spend your time climbing stairs in that place) no windows, it looks just weird (but it is clean!). I met a very strange man in the TV room, we talked and he told me about his adventures in France, how he went there and spent his holiday in … Nevers. Nevers damned, it’s the biggest shithole you can imagine, why would anyone ever go there on holiday? This guy was a kiwi, and I will never understand how kiwis can appreciate travelling having such a beautiful country. I mean, it must sound really lame to them!
- Base on Queen St: probably around a million beds in there, it was my first hostel ever!! The kitchen was so dirty, but I have to admit it wasn’t too bad. Too crowded that’s all.
- Friend’z backpackers on Victoria St: if you are willing to climb the hill, you will be rewarded! So it is very noisy, the bathrooms are a bit dingy (but clean) and the matresses are very basics but it has a very good atmosphere. I actually liked to stay there!
That’s all I can tell you about Auckland.I wonder if anyone found a good hostel in the CDB? I’m so happy to be talking about New Zealand again, you have no idea how much I loved that country. For me, it is a little slice of heaven, where you just cannot worry, cannot get robbed or cannot get bored. I met the craziest travellers and made the biggest mistake of my life when I agreed with my parents to let go of it, and come home. You just can’t let go of New Zealand. Never.