New Zealand. There are really no words to quite describe this country and all of the magic that lays within it. It was the first place that took me away from home and threw me out of my comfort zone. I had traveled quite a bit before moving to New Zealand but I had never lived anywhere outside of the United States and somehow I picked the furthest place away from home to head.
I lived in New Zealand for about a year and a half on and off. To write all I have to say about New Zealand and all of it’s magic is going to take a bit so I will start with the north. I lived in Auckland for the first 3 months I arrived in New Zealand. It is a great starting point for many excursions and a perfect home base to start your trip with.
I lived on Auckland’s North Shore which is across the bay from the downtown, lively harbor area. Auckland is a decently small city in the world view sitting at just over 1.3 million people, but considering the entire country has only 4.7 million it has a lot to offer the citizens of New Zealand. While the city of Auckland may be small it has lots of beautiful pockets to spend time while you plan your following trips around the city.
Things to do:
- Hike at Rangitoto Island: When in Auckland you will see a beautiful volcano just off the coast of the city. Rangitoto is Maori for “Bloody Sky”. You can take a ferry from Devonport here and it is a gorgeous fairly easy hike to the top. It is the youngest volcano in New Zealand and is completely pest free. There are also parts of an old military base built during World War II to protect Auckland that still remain and are pretty neat to climb around in.
- Sky Tower: Rotating needle building in the middle of the city. Decent food with a beautiful view over the entire city. If you are feeling crazy, try the bungee jumping from the top. You are in the country of the original bungee jump (more on that later)
- Visit Waiheke Island: We never got the chance to visit this and I regret it so much and can’t wait to go back specifically to visit it. It is home to 0 cars, but everything else you can imagine. If you love hiking, wine and beaches this is the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of Auckland. Take a ferry over from the city for a day or weekend trip!
- Hike Mount Eden: This was one of our favorite activities in Auckland. You can either hike or drive to the top of this dormant volcano. It gives you a 360 view over the city and seeing the inside of a dormant volcano is always a wonderful sight. It also sits right above Mount Eden Road which houses vintage shops, cafes and great restaurants. You could easily enjoy a day getting lost in this area after a nice hike to the top.
- Visit Viaduct Harbour: This area has the most famous bars and restaurants in the city. Many of these spots can get very busy at night so make sure to make reservations and come early. At sunset you can get a beautiful view over the water and boats docked in the harbor. Grab a glass of wine, sit back and enjoy the view.
- Goat Island Marine Reserve: I was lucky enough to head here on a field trip with the school I was working for and I couldn’t be more surprised by how lucky I had gotten. This is not only a marine reserve, but one of the most beautiful spots I have visited. It’s a small island but has so much to offer. The marine life is noticeable without even trying, the water is that crystal clear. It feels as though you are on a remote island where no person has touched before. If you are keen there are also beautiful scuba and snorkel diving areas!
- Eat the local cuisine!: Always, always this will be on my list. Eat what the locals are eating! Although Kiwis eat many similar foods that we eat around the world, a few things stood out to me. The produce is absolutely insane when in season, and absolutely crazy expensive when out of season. Some of the best carrots I’ve ever eaten have been from NZ, as well as the best kiwis and many other bits of produce. I was told that this was from the volcanic soil in which it was grown, whatever they are doing they should keep it up because it is literally bursting with flavor! When out of season or from off of the islands the produce is extremely expensive and unfortunately often not worth the price. Look for local farmer’s markets for the best for what NZ has to offer! I will add more of my favorite eats around NZ in upcoming posts so stay tuned because there are some fun ones!
Overall Auckland is a great home base. It is beautiful, has the most lovely people imaginable and is the great jumping off point for so many trips around the North Island. In upcoming posts I will clue you into some of the best adventures we took around the area and what you can expect from this magical country!
New Zealand Facts:
Language: English (with a Kiwi slang)
Indigenous People: Maori
Currency: NZ Dollar
Sheep to Person Ratio: 7 to 1 (yes you read that right)
Largest City: Auckland