Well, where do I start with this place. It was love instantaneously!
I arrived in Queenstown on the 7th of May and met Jenna (who I met couch surfing in Auckland) off the bus. I took the Connecta bus which picks you up just outside of the airport and drops you in the center of the town. The bus costs $12 and runs ever few minutes. Unfortunately my bag didn’t make it but on the plus side, I didn’t have to carry 17kilos around with me! We grabbed some food in Burgerfuel and made out way to Sir Cedricks Tahuna Pod Hostel where I was staying.
While I was in Auckland, I decided that I’d head further south to Rotorua (also on the North Island) to get a feel for the Maori culture. I organised a couch surfing host who is a Maori native and living just outside of the town. I booked the Naked Bus (don’t get the wrong idea!) for the next day. With this service, the earlier you book, the cheaper it is, so there’s no harm in being a little orgainsed when planning your travel. From Auckland to Rotorua it takes around 3.75 hrs by bus. It’s a comfortable journey and with the beautiful scenery to look out at, the time flies! The tickets can range between $1 – $30 so again, try to book ahead!
The flight from Bali to Auckland went smoothly with no problems. All I had was a quick stop over in Brisbane and I flew with Virgin Australia. It took about 11 hrs in total but be aware, if you’re looking for in flight entertainment you’ll have to download their app.
Anyhow, I landed in Auckland and got the Skybus from just outside the terminal. This will bring you straight in to the city but they’ll pretty much stop wherever you need to before the city. The ticket costs $16 one way and it takes about 35 minutes by bus (give or take traffic). Unfortunately there must have been a miscommunication between myself and the driver because he dropped me off about 15mins outside of the city but I managed to get a bus in to town for about $2.
After getting dropped off I made my way to Upper Queen St to find my couch surfers apartment. The apartment is in a perfect location, only a 5 min walk to the city centre. The whole situation is definitely interesting though… The apartment itself is a 1 bed, 1 bath with a small sitting room come Kitchen. Yet, it manages to fit up to 8 surfers + the host! My first thoughts were ‘How in the name of God is this going to work?’ and was really apprehensive at first but once I met all of the girls, the host and saw the layout at night it just seemed to work! There was blow up mattresses everywhere though! The girls were all really lovely and have definitely made some friends for life there. The host, Carl, was great. Very accommodating, helpful about stuff to do and see and just an overall cheerful guy. I have to say it was a brilliant first couch surfing experience!
Anyhow, after I dropped off my bits, I made my way down to the city to have a look around. Auckland reminded me of a modern, Galway. The vibe is very chilled out with buskers doing their thing and people getting together in the sq for coffee, protests or talks (The ones I came across were for legalizing marijuana and animal cruelty, not too far off the bat I’d say!). After getting a sim card to see me through the next two weeks I found a place to sit down and eat. Raw Power Cafe is a vegan/ vegetarian cafe thats on Vulcan Lane just off Queens St. I had been craving falafel like nothing else and when I came across this it was like my prayers were answered! So delicious and affordable at $12 for a very filling meal.
That night, me and a couple of girls from the house decided to go out for a few and ended up in an Irish bar (of course) Danny Dolan’s. It was so much fun and I could of actually been back home in the Quays! On the way home we came across a brilliant busker who as it turns out is quite well known around the North Island. If you look up King Home Boy you’ll see what I’m talking about. 🙂
In my week in Auckland I was fortunate to meet a lovely Kiwi who offered to tour me around. He brought me to the coast where there was a beautiful black sand beach and cliffs (similar to the Cliffs of Moher). If you’re ever in Auckland, you should definitely check out Muriwai Beach, just stunning! Afterwards, it straight to Burger Burger (great veg option!) For lunch and then One Tree Hill to catch the sunset over Auckland city. It was then I knew it was going to be extremely hard to leave! After more food (an Indian) he showed me where the museum was and a couple of nice parks. It was such a nice way to end the day! He even offered to bring me to the gym the next day, delighted! 🙂
Another place that I was brought to during my time in Auckland was Mount Eden. This is another beautiful view point of the city. It’s quite a popular spot and even at 9pm there was lots of people coming and going.
There is so much to do in Auckland, from the museum to one of the comedy shows or plays or heading for a bungee jump or skydive, you won’t get bored! I found it to be a really livable place and will definitely consider it for the future! 😉