It took us a long time to decided whether we were going to live in Auckland or in Wellington. I always wanted to go to Wellington but Alexis wanted to go to Auckland and he kind of convinced me at first that it was our best option. In fact, we had two friends going there already and as it is the biggest city in New Zealand, it would be easier to find a job in our field there – which was true because most of the offers are in Auckland.
Though we finally decided to live in Wellington because it was in the middle of New Zealand (Middle of Middle Earth according to Welly’s airport) which allowed us to travel more during week ends and it seemed to be a more suitable size city for us.
We finally went to Auckland, six months later, to see a friend for his birthday. Living in Wellington, we heard so much about Auckland and Aucklanders. There is a big rivalry between the two cities. I was under the impression that I was back in Montreal, listening to Montrealers talking about Toronto and Torontoners. People from Wellington don’t seem to like Auckland. “It is too big of a city” and “people are always rushing everywhere” and “the city has no soul” and other stuff.
A bit harsh yes.
We took the night bus for a very long eleven hours trip. I hate buses, I am car/air/train/bus/sea sick whether I am in a car, in a bus, in a boat, in a train or in a plane. I was quite stressed to take the bus for so long, my only hope was to be able to sleep… Which was very hard. The worst thing was a little baby that was right behind my seat and he didn’t find a better idea than play with my seat and pull my hair in the same time. Hmmmmm.
We saw a nice sunrise though while we were somewhere in the Shire around Rotorua. I can’t wait to visit Hobbitown!
Finding our way around Auckland
When we arrived in Auckland, I immediately thought about Toronto again. Of course I thought about it. To start, there is almost the same tower! I had a weird feeling in Auckland though. The city made no sense to me. Maybe it was because a friend drove us around to see all the different sides of the city. I don’t know. I couldn’t figure out how it was organized.
We went on the waterfront which is really nice with bars, restaurants, a small park, some street art too. I think this was my favourite part of the city.
Talking about restaurants, there are a lot of them and coffee shops too in Auckland. We went to one next to the main street (Queen Street) which had gluten-free/Vegan/Veggie options. I loved it, the decoration was perfect, the food was perfect. I don’t know if there is wifi though but it would be a really good place to go work in. Oh, and they have the best ice-cream shop EVER. It is called Giapo.
When we asked what there was to do in Auckland to Wellingtonians, the answer was unanimous: Shopping. Too bad, we couldn’t buy anything because we couldn’t carry anything else for the plane. That eliminated a lot of what to do there then!
Hopefully, that was not the only thing to do. Auckland has many really nice parks that are actually Volcanos. They are quite spread out though so if you don’t have a car, it might take a bit longer to visit everything.
Of course I wanted to go to the one called “One Tree Hill”. If you don’t know why, I recommend watching the TV Show of the same name – that was absolutely not shot there but still. One Tree Hill Domain, is kind of set up around a hill on top of which there used to be one tree. I guess we know where its name comes from! Though the tree is not there anymore. Instead, there is a giant monument. The view is still really nice, you can see all around Auckland. More over, on the way up we encountered some sheep, cows and even chicken!
The nicest one though was Mount Eden, where you can see a green crater. Even if it seems not active, Volcanos around Auckland are not that old and you never know what might happen. A few days ago, a touristic small island more on the east compared to Auckland, called the White Island, just had an eruption! A small one but still.
There are also some beaches and you can take the ferry to go on the other side of the bay in Devonport and you have a nice view over the city. There are even some bunker from WWII you can visit (we have some in Normandy but they are all closed).
I was a bit sad that it was raining the whole three days but I guess I am used to it now (after all we went to San Francisco the only three days it rained this year…).
I don’t know if I really liked Auckland or not. Maybe I was biased coming and living in Wellington. I keep in mind though that when I visited Toronto I didn’t liked it at all either and when I went to live there for a few months, I loved it. Who knows, maybe I would have love it too.
I would be very interested by getting opinions of Aucklanders 🙂 What do you like about the city?
Getting there – Wellington – Auckland
There is multiple options to travel from Welly to Auckland.
The fastest way is to take the plane of course. No need to be there two hours in advance or anything and the flight is 50 minutes. The only long thing is to go from Auckland’s airport to Auckland (or the opposite). It takes around one hour to reach downtown by bus. For Welly, it takes way less time to go to the airport. Maybe fifteen minutes by bus.
You can find cheap tickets if you look a bit around like on this app. There is a low cost company called JetStar that is known to be always late. That is quite true actually. We took JetStar on the way back to Wellington and we had one hour delay. Though the planes are totally fine (don’t worry Mum!), the one we took seemed quite new.
The most common way maybe and cheap way too. You can get a ticket for around $30. You have to know though that it takes eleven hours to get there instead of the 50 minutes flight + 1 hour to get to the airports. There are a few companies too. We took one called Mana Bus, it was nice, there is free wifi and the buses seems quite new. There is enough space for legs (which is a good point). Others are Intercity and Naked Bus (do you know any other one?)
Taking a car
I would think it takes a bit faster than buses to get by car but I have no idea how much it cost. It is definitely more expensive if you are only two in the car though.
Having a car in Auckland
Apparently there is a lot of traffic in Auckland. We often hear on the radio, tv, new paper people complaining about the traffic there. We haven’t been by car there yet so I can’t really tell but as the city is quite wide, a car can get handy.
There is a $1 parking in the city. You can find more information here . You will have to book online though but it is so worth it!
What to visit
1) The Sky Tower. We didn’t visited it. We thought it was quite expensive to see only clouds as it was raining. Though we went down to the shop as if we wanted to go up. Let me tell you, this was the most interesting thing we saw about Auckland. Down in the shop, right before the cashier to get up the tower, there is a small movie theater that is showing different short movies about the city. You see what you can see from above, you learn details about the volcanos and the city. It really was interesting (around 15 minutes maybe).
2) One Tree Hill. I talked about it a bit in the article. Really nice place to hang out and have a view over the city. There are even barbecues that you can use for picnics!
3) Mount Vic and Devonport. On the other side of the bay, in Devonport, Mount Victoria gives you a really nice view of Auckland’s skyline. You can also visit bunkers there. Devonport is a rich district of Auckland.
4) Mount Eden. Really nice cracter and another view of the city
5) Queen Street. Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Shopping. There are plenty in Auckland, especially in Queen’s street, and there is more variety than Wellington.
6) Ponsonby. It is a district of Auckland that is quite hipster and has a really nice inside market (Ponsonby Central) and some restaurants and bars too.
7) The Waterfront. Really nice place to hang out for a drink or lay in one of the big chairs.
8) Art Gallery. We visited it because we had some time left under the rain. We only had time for the free section. It was not extraordinary but I guess I prefer museums than art galleries.
9) Albert Park. This park has a really nice view over the Sky Tower. and it has an air of Versailles. We saw a few people doing Yoga and taichi. The Art Gallery is around and so is the 1$ Parking.
10) Mission Bay. It is kind of the Saint-Tropez of Auckland. Lots of people along the beach (and a lot of people playing Pokemon Go!). For its defence, it has a really nice view over the Volcano Island, Rangitoto. You can also go up a bit to have another view over the island and the city. I really hope we are going to go back during a sunny day because I am sure it changes everything.
11) The aquarium and the zoo. Apparently they are something to do there too… We didn’t do them though.
12) The Islands around the city. We might have gone if it was sunny 🙁 Next time!
What did we miss?? We might go back so if you have any other thing for us to visit, we are listening 🙂