Weekend in Auckland

On our way from Hong Kong to Tahiti we stopped for two days of jet-lagging in Auckland, the capital of New Zealand. We knew almost nothing about the city beforehand, and started planning and researching for things to do only few days before landing.After answering questions and showing our passports to three different border officials, and clearing the luggage x-rays with no hiking boots, food products or used tents, we were allowed to enter the country. Besides the unwelcoming first appearance, the city felt welcoming and modern right from the start. The weather in late September was 15*c and raining – quite cold compared to the humid and hot Hong Kong. We had chosen the Rendezvous Grand Hotel, mainly because it seemed good value and we stayed only two nights. The hotel had just been renovated, the rooms were new, and the location was good. It was big and boring, but easy and comfortable.

For lunch we headed to K Street for some good and authentic Indian food. Seems that every second restaurant and shop in Auckland is owned and operated by Asian immigrants. We felt almost like home in Hong Kong. Despite the rain, Auckland had a nice vibe. Reminded me of Reykjavik, with similar city planning, architecture and nice street art everywhere.

All in one from one shop

After lunch we headed to the Auckland Museum, wanting to check out the Maori exhibitions. The museum had almost two floors filled with objects and information about the Polynesian & Maori culture. Lots of interesting facts about the origins of the Polynesian peoples, and their basic way of life that lasted for hundreds of years before the first western sailing expeditions arrived.

Polynesian origins at the Auckland Museum

We also found some interesting displays filled with equipment from Sir Edmund Hillary, the pioneering NZ mountaineer, national hero, and the first person to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Included in the exhibition was the ice axe he used on the Everest expedition!

Sir Edmund Hillary's ice axe

Our goal was to stay awake until at least 22 or 23, and after strolling in the city center for a while, we headed to a nice small restaurant called Little Mexico. The place looked and felt authentic, and I ended up ordering the house margarita, which was huge an delicious! Highly recommended.

Margarita at the Little Mexico

The next day we wanted to explore the outdoors, and luckily the weather was also cooperating. We took a ferry from the harbor to the nearby Rangitoto Island, one of the most recent volcanoes in the area. The ferries to the island run only a few times in the morning, and the journey takes about 30 minutes with a stop at Davenport. Don’t miss the last ferry coming back. There isn’t any other trasnportation back to Auckland city.

View to the city from the ferry

Rangitoto island has many trails and a road leading to the volcano summit, where you can look into the over-vegetated crater and some get some great views to the Auckland downtown and the nearby islands. The hike to the summit takes about an hour, and if you are lazy (really lazy) you can also opt for a trolley ride. Although you probably shouldn’t come to the nature if you want to look at it from a carriage pulled by a noisy tractor.

Views from teh summit

On the way to the summit there are signs for a loop trail taking  you to see some volcanic caves. The caves aren’t anything spectacular and are quite small, but you can walk through many of them, going in at one end and coming our from another. It gets quite claustrophobic at some points and its totally dark, so bring a headlamp.

Inside the volcanic caves

In the end the island trip was a nice day walk, but nothing spectacular. On the way back we could have stopped at Davenport to enjoy the evening, but instead we headed to the city and spent the rest of the night loitering around, while it started to rain again. Shops close early, around 6pm, so there aren’t many things to do in the city. Like Helsinki! Sit home or go to a bar…

Empty streets of Auckland

All in all Auckland is OK for two nights, but to really see the best parts of New Zealand, you need to go far from the city.

Here you can find a few more pictures:

 

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