Touchdown in Auckland – our FIRST TIME IN NEW ZEALAND! Sounds amazing right, but at that moment it was not – we were tired and our feet were smelly. Having had 2 flights behind us, each being well over 10hrs long all we wanted to do is shower and sleep ;). We completely lost track of time and were not even sure which date it is. Luckily we realised it was midnight already so going to sleep felt like the best thing to do anyway ;). Read more about what we did in Auckland once we got over our tiredness!
Since we LANDED QUITE LATE IN THE EVENING we decided to sleep at one one the AIRPORT HOTELS the first night as the airport is quite far away from the city centre. That worked out perfectly – we also did some GROCERY SHOPPING for the next days at the AIPORT SHOPPING CENTRE which is right next to our IBIS HOTEL (10 minutes walking from the airport and yes we did walk to it with our backpacks after landing). We just took a TAXI to the city (fixed price 45$) as we did not feel like taking a shuttle back to the airport and taking the AIRPORT BUS from there – the taxi price was kind of the same for the 3 of us.
One very short night behind us we stepped into our beautiful apartment on QUEEN STREET – the place to be in Auckland. Immediately taken by lively atmosphere we dropped our bags and were off to explore (still quite tired, but at least not smelly anymore!). As it was around CHRISTMAS everyone seemed to be doing the last shopping, meeting friends and family in the parks, kids were enjoying the summer holiday season – everything seemed extremely relaxed and we were so surprised of the FRIENDLINESS OF THE LOCALS we were witnessing over and over again.
Firstly we were headed to AOTEA SQUARE where we came across this huge LEGO CHRISTMAS TREE – apparently it took several months to build it and it had a funny feature to it – a Santa with a surf board. How very fitting to the general relaxed mood ;). We had an ice cream and absorbed some sun rays sitting in some very convenient sitting pillows in the park. Lu found some foam building bricks to play with – soon after we started our walk we really had a feeling the city is very kid-friendly even though it´s a big city. There were PLAYGROUNDS everywhere!
Around 1,5 mio people are living in Auckland which makes over 30% OF THE COUNTRY´S POPULATION – so you see, it´s a big modern city with a lot to offer. You could stay much longer than just a weekend ;). Auckland also has THE LARGEST POLYNESIAN POPULATION of any city in the world! So even if you are not visiting any of the islands after your trip to New Zealand you can soak up a little bit of Polynesian culture right here 😉
The one thing you simply have to do while in Auckland is to go up the 328 m high SKY TOWER and enjoy the wonderful views on the city. There is a cafe & a restaurant, an observation deck and lots of fun corners for children – if you are feeling particularly adventurous you can also do a SKY DIVE form the top ;). Not so much our thing right now, but we have seen a couple of others do it ;).
Despite my slight FEAR OF HIGHTS this was definitely a HIGHLIGHT of the day, especially because the weather was nice enough to see pretty much far out to the islands in the bay.
Besides the cafe & restaurant there was a KIDS CORNER whit a large round table and drawing utilities, since it was just before Christmas there was also a real SANTA you could take a photo with and so on.
I have to admit it was a bit STRANGE WALKING AROUND IN FLIP FLOPS during the Christmas holiday season – we never travelled to a warm place during this time of a year. Not that we missed the cold grey home, but it took us a while longer to get into the whole holidays mood 100%.
But never mind, we found lots of things which made up for that “loss” ;). Lu was happy to find a new PLAYGROUND (this one was in VICTORIA PARK) every half an hour and we had some delicious SIMPLE FOOD WITH A TWIST – fish & chips and a pint of locally brewed CRAFT BEER for lunch, peanut butter ice cream as a snack, yummy wine in the evening and fresh self-salad bought on the market.
We ended our FIRST DAY pretty tired but full of new memories and just genuinely happy to be in New Zealand! We could have used the next day and go see a couple of other attractions in the city like the MARITIME MUSEUM, WAR MEMORIAL MUSEUM, AQUARIUM, ZOO, BOTANIC GARDENS, ART GALLERIES and so on.
Instead, we wanted to visit one of the islands in the bay – either RANGITOTO, ROTOROA, WAIHEKE, MOTUIHE – and decided on WAIHEKE in the end! This was a wonderful day trip – read more about the island in a separate post here:
3 nights in Auckland was enough to get an impression, if we had an extra day we would probably do another day trip to one of the islands rather than spending it in the city! We were off to the COOK ISLANDS afterwards and returned to New Zealand to explore the NORTHLAND PENINSULA with a rented car later on.