Monday, January 16, 2012

New Zealand December 2011 - Exploring Auckland

***This post is part 5 of a full trip report. The index can be found here*** 

Getting into central Auckland was fairly easy with Airbus, the public bus that runs every 10 minutes from both the international and domestic terminals with limited stops. The charge is 16 NZD one-way, but that's actually quite a bargain since it can be a good 45-minute ride into town. Taxis can run up to 100 NZD!

Based on TripAdvisor reviews, I had booked a two-bedroom suite at the Celestion Waldorf Apartments Hotel. I was traveling with three other people, and that made it a little harder to find a decently priced hotel that wasn't also a dump. Surprisingly, all the Waldorf hotels in town are very reasonably priced, yet also modern and comfortable. We ended up paying only $128 per night split among four people! The best part about the hotel was its walkable location to Queen Street as well as the bustling harbor area. There was also a very convenient grocery store only a few blocks away. The only negative thing about the hotel was the complete lack of WiFi, and they charged for internet usage on the one computer in the lobby as well.

Celestion Waldorf Apartments Hotel


Living room and kitchen

For some reason, we got the "accessible" unit

Unfortunately, we really only had one full day to explore Auckland, which, of course, is never enough time to experience a city this big. But we made the most of it, hitting up some interesting sights. Quay Street along the harbor is quite touristy, but a fun walk nonetheless. There are plenty of good restaurants along the way, and also opportunities to book tour cruises that can take you to Waiheke or Rangitoto Islands. I would have loved to do a half-day cruise, but we simply ran out of time.

Auckland is a wonderful city to walk around, and there are so many random alleyways to explore with bars, cafes, and restaurants. We walked along High Street, and ended up at Albert Park, which was a great place to relax on the grass and take in the views. We also went to the famous Sky Tower, but ultimately decided not to go up. For about 200 NZD, you can do a controlled jump off the top of the tower... my thought was, no thanks!

The White Lady burger truck

Albert Park

Sky Tower

We did manage to get out of the downtown area for a bit to hike up One Tree Hill. The hills around the area are actually a series of extinct volcanic cones, and at the highest peak, there is presently an obelisk commemorating the Treaty of Waitangi. Unfortunately, the "one tree" had to be removed in 2000 due to a series of attacks (there was a historical conflict between the native Maori and the European settlers regarding the symbolic nature of the tree). From downtown, it's a 20-minute bus ride to the park, but it is definitely worth it as you can see some spectacular views of the entire Auckland area and beyond. Also, the area around the park is an actual working sheep farm, so you get to capture the quintessential New Zealand photo of sheep grazing on rolling green hills.

One Tree Hill

View from the top

Our time in Auckland was way too short, and I definitely hope to return one day to visit, as it was truly a beautiful city.

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