I usually plan my trips perfectly. I usually check the yearly weather patterns in a certain country before booking my flights. Actually when I arrived in New Zealand the weather was perfect. But before I reached the second week, the weather turned shitty. It was raining hard every day. First I checked the weather forecast— maybe i could wait it out. The forecast said it’s gonna be raining non stop for the next two weeks. So then I checked the forecast in other places— maybe the weather was only crappy in Rotorua and nearby areas. No such luck. It was practically raining in the whole North Island, and the forecast is the same for the entire week. The weather was still good in the South Island, but the rains would be coming in a few days. No use going back down south. The shitty weather meant i’d have to scrap my other plans in the North Island. No use going to beaches. I won’t be able to hike either cause it’s not recommended when the weather is shitty. So I had to scrap Tauranga. i’d have to scrap that Mt. Ngauruhoe hike I was planning. If only I arrived 2 weeks earlier, my entire New Zealand trip would have been perfect. But there’s no use crying over spilled milk. I decided to just head to Auckland. It was quite early to head over to the place where I’ll be flying out from, but i do have a friend who’s based there. We could use the extra days to catch up. One good thing about traveling from Rotorua to Auckland? it’s a very common route. Which means you can get really cheap bus tickets. A week away there was a bus ticket for only NZD 1. But I didn’t want to stay in Rotorua for another week. By this time though, I’ve managed to rack up a lot of reward points by riding those Intercity buses. I’ve had enough points to get a free ride three days later. I wasn’t in any rush, i could spend another 3 days in rainy Rotorua. I’ve met a couple of great people and I didn’t mind spending a couple more days with them.
So the bus ride to Auckland took about 4 hours. It was fairly pleasant with just one rest stop. It got a bit delayed though since it came from Wellington and a number of roads were flooded, so it had to take a different route. I actually missed the bus I was supposed to be on because it was a Kiwi Experience bus and not an Intercity bus! That was really weird. Why would they put me in a Kiwi Experience bus when I bought a ticket for an Intercity bus? Apparently that happens sometimes. So every time a bus arrives you better check if you’re supposed to be on it. I was prepared to have a heated argument with the bus driver, but he just smiled, said there’s nothing to worry about, and then let me in. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Kiwis are really really nice people. 🙂
On my first night I had to stay at a hostel since my friend had to work nights. In case you’re wondering, i stayed at Nomads Auckland since I really loved their hostel in Queenstown. The location is great, near the bus stop and centrally located, but it’s impossible to get some sleep until the bars downstairs are already closed. It felt as if I was inside one of those bars— it was that noisy. Since it was impossible to sleep, me and my room mates just went down and had a few drinks, despite the fact that two of them were still jet lagged. Going around the city is easy since the bus and train networks are quite extensive. Prices start at NZD 1 for city links, with increasing fares if you pass several zones. You’d pay the most expensive fare (NZD 10) if you pass 5 zones. If you choose to buy an AT HOP card, fares are cheaper, sometimes by as much as 50%. However, keep in mind that an AT HOP card costs NZD 10. It might not be cost effective if you’ll only be in Auckland for a day or two and if you’ll be mostly staying in the city center.
Thankfully, i didn’t have to use public transport that much to see the sights since my friend took a day off from work and showed me around. Auckland isn’t really a big city, so you can see all the attractions in one day. The most popular one is the Auckland Sky Tower. it offers a great panoramic view of the city, and it costs NZD 30 to go up the viewing deck. For an adrenaline rush, you can do a sky walk where you walk around the outside of the tower for NZD 145, or do a sky jump for NZD 225. It seemed a little too pricey for me though so I wasn’t really interested in doing those heh.
A short distance from the tower is the Viaduct Harbour. It’s a great place to hang out since there are lots of restaurants and bars in the area. The Voyager Maritime Museum is also in this area if you’re interested in the country’s maritime history. From the harbour, day trips are offered to the nearby islands, none of which we took because the weather was mostly crappy and unpredictable. Regarding architecture, there’s not much in terms of history in central Auckland since it’s a modern city. Some buildings stand out though like the Ferry Building, the Post office, and the Town Hall. You can’t miss them. They actually stick out like sore thumbs.
A bit off the city center is One Tree Hill, which is symbolic for many locals. it’s actually a dormant volcanic peak that is located within Cornwall Park. This is a very relaxing place and it’s truly worth visiting. The peak offers a panoramic view of Auckland, and there are lots of sheep here too. If Auckland is your first stop in the country, you might get overwhelmed with the number of sheep that are roaming free in this park. heh. There are actually more sheep than people in New Zealand.
Auckland is also known for many beautiful beaches. I would have loved to hang out at those beaches if only is wasn’t raining most of the time. I guess like Australia, I’d have to go back during the summer so that i can get to experience chilling at those beautiful beaches.
Auckland is a very modern city, so the night life is great if you’re looking to party. As I’ve mentioned above, there are so many bars in the center of the city. there are a number of clubs as well. Though it’s no longer the capital of the country, it still feels like it is. I’d say it’s an ideal first or last stop in New Zealand. If Auckland is your port of entry and you came from a big city, it’s a great place to get to know a bit of Kiwi culture before heading to the rural areas. And if it’s your last stop, it’s a great place to wean you back to the city lifestyle after doing all those hikes and seeing all the amazing natural wonders that the country has to offer. It may pale in comparison to other parts of the country, but the city has enough charms to earn it a place on anyone’s New Zealand itinerary.