With this post I begin to describe our New Zealand Road Trip! After several months of work in a New Zealand hotel, located in Tongariro National Park, we could finally afford another travel trip! First thing on our list is visiting Auckland!
IF YOU’RE INTERESTED IN OUR JOURNEY PLAN, YOU’LL FIND IT HERE: THE NORTHERN ISLAND AND THE SOUTHERN ISLAND (STILL PREPARING)
HOW DO WE TRAVEL?
Before we get to the point and start exploring Auckland, I will tell you briefly how we travel.
Our transport? A van!
Accommodation place? The van!
We bought a van in New Zealand – Toyota Estima Lucida, produced in 1998. This van is going to be our house on wheels! In a nutshell – instead of seats in the back, we have a mattress and a small kitchenette in the trunk. Soon I will introduce you to our van more deeply in another post. ?
We travel on a budget. Having such a vehicle is a perfect solution if we don’t want to lose money for nights spent in hotels and hostels.
LET’S HIT THE ROAD!
We started our journey in Putaruru, because it is our starting point. We had about 200km to Auckland, which is about 2 hours away. On the way we stopped in a small town called Pokeno to eat ice cream! Pokeno is known to New Zealanders as a place where you can choose from many flavors of ice cream (e.g. churro!) and at decent prices (for three big scoops they want 4 dollars). The range of flavours was actually very big, and the scoops were huge! I chose the taste of banana with choc chips, mint and choc chips and salty caramel. The ice cream is not “home-made”, it comes from Tip Top, a New Zealand ice cream brand… almost like home-made! ?
The same day we went to the Sylvia Park shopping center. It was quite a big event for us, because we hadn’t been in a big city for almost a year. It was also an opportunity to see how the New Zealand shopping centers look like. All in all, they do not differ much from ours. However, they are smaller and of course they have different stores. I think I saw only Zara and H&M from European popular clothing brands.
After visiting the Mecca of consumerism, we had to find a place to stay overnight. In search of places to sleep we were mainly using applications such as Camper Mate or Rankers Camping NZ. On that day, however, these apps did not help us much because they claimed that there were no free places to sleep in Auckland! However, we managed to find a free spot and I will even tell you where it was!
The area of Panmure, Kings Rd Street, right next to the Panmure Yacht And Boating Club. There is a parking lot adjacent to some public toilets. Nobody was picking on us, there were even a few other people who came up with a similar idea as us. However, I do not take responsibility for your possible ticket, because this place is not marked as a place for sleeping… but also there is no information that you can not sleep there! ?
A DAY IN THE RAIN
The first night in the car went quite well, we woke up a bit during the night, but we felt much nicer and safer than in the tent. Unfortunately, the next day greeted us with rainy weather… We were supposed to meet with our colleague from France, with whom we worked in the hotel. After a year cut off from decent European bread (here they have mainly some sponges full of air), we went to a small French cafe (L’atelier du fromage), for some good bread. As soon as we arrived there, it turned out that they had just sold all the baguettes… XD OFCOURSE! We ordered Croque-Monsieur – some other kind of tasty bread! ?
Due to the rainy weather we were looking for shelter under a roof. This way we landed in other shopping malls (Westfield and other such places). I have to admit that they didn’t compare with Polish malls. This surprised me a little bit because in Auckland (the largest city in the NZ, where almost 1/3 of the whole New Zealand population lives) I expected big malls where I would find everything in one place.
During a coffee stop in one of the cafes in the shopping complex, we decided to take part in some emergency exercises in case of an earthquake. We were ordered to sit under a table for about 3 minutes. Surely, we do not have such exercises in Poland. ?
Auckland War Memorial Museum
Another place where we tried to hide from the rain was the Auckland War Memorial Museum. I don’t like museums like ‘exhibit-information plate’, and this museum is largely like that. We found some interactive and multimedia exhibitions there (e.g. earthquake simulation), but somehow they didn’t impress me. However, I must admit that it was nice to see exhibits from this part of the world – some straw skirts, armor made by islanders from Oceania, etc. But it was an attraction for me for 5 minutes, then it became boring. But if you are interested in the history of this part of the world and you like ‘traditional’ museums, you will surely like it there. The museum itself is located on a hill from where you can enjoy a beautiful view of Auckland. For this reason, it is worth a look there.
We finished our tour of Auckland that day in an Irish pub on Queen Street. To get there, we had to walk along K-Road. I was reminded a little bit of the time spent in Vancouver because this street was full of people under the influence of alcohol/drugs, lying on the street, peeing without restraint on the sidewalk, or screaming and more.
For the night we went to the same place where we slept the previous night.
Visiting Auckland – day two
In the morning of the next day we were greeted by the sun. Lucky for us! The first point of the program was the climb to the top of Mt Eden (196 m), which offers a beautiful view of the center of Auckland and its surroundings. Mt Eden is an extinct volcano. In total, there are 53 volcanoes around Auckland!
A little lower than the top of the mountain, there is a small parking lot (free of charge). This is an ideal way to shorten your hike to the very top of the volcano. You can see the view from Mt Eden on the title photo of this post or in my Auckland video.
While admiring the city views, we saw two pugs (we are pug fans) on a walk nearby. We quickly ran towards them and that’s how I got the picture with these stars :D.
Later we headed towards the city center. We parked in the streets nearby Ponsonby Street because the parking was free. Ponsonby Street itself is a nice street with bars and stores and quite interesting architecture. Andy stopped there to have breakfast at Burger Fuel (a New Zealand chain of restaurants specializing in burgers).
Our destination was Queen Street. To get to it we had to walk again the previously mentioned K-street. During the day it looked much better, but it was still full of people who got lost at some point in their lives. We stayed there in the cafe, because a day without coffee is a day lost! I also added a donut with jam, which was even similar in taste to a polish pączek.
Finally we arrived on Queen Street. The most important street in Auckland and the most expensive in New Zealand. Quite pleasant, even though it is full of people. The street where buildings from the 19th century merge with modern skyscrapers. I definitely liked sunny Auckland! I completely forgot about taking pictures when I was making the video, so to see what it looks like I invite you to my video.
Queen Street ends up at the wharf, which was just under renovation, so we couldn’t quite feel the seaside vibe. Then we went to the highest building in town (as well as in the whole NZ), which is the Sky Tower (328m). It serves mainly as a radio and observation tower. Of course, to get to the top you have to pay (about 32 dollars), there is also a restaurant on the top. We did not take advantage of this attraction, because we decided that a 30-dollar elevator ride is not worth it. With the rest, we already had a nice view of Auckland from Mt Eden.
Time to leave
After a long walk, it is time to finish visiting Auckland. We started to head towards the car. We did not pay too much attention to the streets we were walking on. This way we came across the second surprise of the day – a European Shop. Not that such a store is something special (because there are a few of them), but this one was selling NIM2!!!!!!!. My beloved candies! Which I couldn’t find either in Canada or during my entire stay in NZ. Since they sell NIM2 here, I am ready to live here! If they started selling the Smiley jellys, I would be in heaven <3.
We left Auckland that day. The next day we wanted to visit the beach in Piha, so we decided to stay outside the city. Again, we couldn’t find anything free. At Campermate we found a camping site, which was relatively cheap and had a shower. To get to it we had to deviate quite strongly from the route to Piha. Halfway to the place, after noticing the parking lot just before the town of Parau, we decided to stay there overnight. We were not sure if we could sleep there. However, due to the fact that our car has Self-Contained certification (which means, in short, that we have our own toilet and more freedom camping possibilities), we decided to take a risk…
Come and see my vlog from Auckland <3