After a 13 hour flight from San Francisco, my travel buddy and I landed in New Zealand. After trying to come to terms with the fact that we had set off on Monday and arrived on Wednesday, skipping out Tuesday, we found our shuttle into Auckland which took us to the Nomads Hostel.
We caught up on some sleep before venturing outside to hunt down some food. Around the corner we found a delicious and well priced Asian BBQ restaurant- so far, so good. Once we were fed and watered, we went off to see the Sky Tower and then to Karangahape Road, which our tourist map had described as “funky and eclectic”. Surprisingly, it was easy to find and we didn’t get lost, so we spent some time wandering around the vintage shops before going to Victoria Park Market which looked like it might have been worth an explore but sadly we arrived a bit before it closed so everything was winding down.
Our night wasn’t quite as cultural as perhaps it should have been. We went to an internet cafe, then bought Domino’s pizza and ate it in front of WWF. Afterwards, we headed to the hostel bar for a much needed Southern Comfort and coke- we had been deprived of our favourite drinks as under-21s in America. Sadly, my drink came out a lot more expensive than my friend’s gin and tonic and so began my love affair with gin.
The morning began with relaxing on the sun deck at the hostel before meeting at The Fat Camel bar for our day trip to one of the islands. We set out on a bus, over the bridge and up to an old army barracks where we found great views of the bay, the city and the dormant volcanoes nearby. We then had a BBQ before going to the village of Devonport but there wasn’t too much to do so we just treated ourselves to a cup of tea and a rest on the beach.
On returning to the hostel, we had some planning to do. The next day, we were setting off on our bus tour with the Kiwi Experience and we needed to organise our timetable. The company recommended how much time we should spend in each place but we were on quite a tight schedule and so had to juggle a little bit. We managed to come up with a plan before it was time to head out on the hostel’s bar crawl. This turned out to be a great way of meeting people but perhaps not the ideal activity the night before a long road trip. We also made the mistake of forgetting our IDs so had to return to the hostel, grab them and then run and catch up with the group- rookie mistake. In Cassette Nine bar, we got our first taste of teapot cocktails- the way cocktails should always be served. Then there was Fusion Bar, the Globe Bar and Father Ted’s Irish Bar. Somehow, I ended up picking up a pink feather boa along the way, so around 3am I was walking through the streets of Auckland, back to my hostel, shedding feathers as I walked. After a shower, I crashed to the sound of loud music still being played in the halls but I was too tired to notice.
We had to get up early and get breakfast before catching the Kiwi bus. Our first stop was Mt. Eden where we got some good pictures before heading to Cathedral Cove. We never quite made it to the cove and instead headed to Greenstone Bay which turned out to be covered in boulders so we walked a but further and discovered Stingray Bay which looked like somewhere from a movie set. My travel buddy and I pitched up on the deserted shore and ate our quiche and apple lunch. We tried paddling but the water was freezing. We then started our ascent back up to our meeting point, before heading to Mercury Bay.
Our hostel- Turtle Cove– was really nice and we had a homemade dinner of spaghetti bolognese before settling down with tea on the sofa in front of the TV before getting an early night so we would feel slightly more fresh for the next day.