I departed Christchurch on the first flight to Auckland and landed just after 8am. This was to be my only full day in Auckland so I wanted as much of it as I could get. I picked up my run-of-the mill rental and headed into the city.
I thought I was lost a number of times while following the “City Center” signs as I meandered through the surrounding residential suburbs. The route in from the airport basically wound through little towns that were situated upon rolling hills. It was unlike the typical large city approach on a major freeway with the skyline in the distance. And then after coming around yet another bend… there’s the Sky Tower, the harbor, and I’m about two minutes’ drive from downtown.
I didn’t really have much of an agenda for Auckland. Most, if not all, of the Kiwis I know recommended not even entering the city. I couldn’t in good conscience skip it altogether, so I allowed one day. My first to-do was food: I needed a proper breakfast, and Lonely Planet recommended a small pedestrian-only street called Vulcan Place. I was expecting a bit more prominent a plaza and managed to walk right by it twice. There are a couple of blocks worth of little pubs and restaurants, and as LP promised there were a few serving breakfast. My choice was the very hearty Moorish Eggs, served with kefta meatballs and Turkish bread. I’d give it a 6/10, though it suited me fine as I was starving.
Looking through LP there were only a few attractions that stood out for me, and a number of them tended to be museums. I didn’t really want to start on such a slow note and opted for sailing instead. (Auckland is the “City of Sails” after all.) SailNZ runs cruises on the harbor in a real America’s Cup boat. It’s pricey, but the novelty seemed worth it. It was a decent cruise, but it wasn’t a good day for sailing. There was simply no wind. The boat nonetheless went, and we had an informative and entertaining trip. Most of the NZ tourist attractions are very well done in that regard.
So… this is where the Auckland City portion of my trip starts to fall over a bit. After the cruise, the crew invited us for some beers in a nearby pub. That would have been fine, but I met a couple of amicable guys on the boat (including the COO of Bank of New Zealand who just moved to Auckland from Sydney) and it turned out to be a full night in the pub. Here’s the short version of the next 12 hours: left the car (and accidentally my toiletries) downtown, had a painful night in the mediocre youth hostel, got kicked out in the morning against my will to sleep in, found the car (no damage 🙂 ), found the $40 parking violation 😥 , and finished my sleep in the car down by Viaduct harbor.
Having blown through half of day two, the time and interest in Auckland museums etc. was well and truly gone, so I chose to hit the road and head to Rotorua, which is where this will pick up…