It’s been a while, friends, but I am back! Just to give a quick update before I dive into my Auckland trip, I am currently still living in Brisbane, Australia. I went home (Portland, OR) for about three weeks, then returned to Australia to live with my good friend, continue writing (which I’ve been slack on!) and enjoying this gorgeous country while also figuring out what the fuck I’m doing. It has been probably the fastest four months of my life between the end of June, when I left my previous host family, and now. I know time speeds up when you’re older but SHEESH. If things could slow down for a few minutes, or months, that would be appreciated. I swear, it’s still August.
Buuuuuut it isn’t. We’re halfway through October, which means I have made it through my first 90 days of my visitor visa in Australia and it was time for a trip. Auckland was a fairly easy choice – it is one of the closest international travel options from Brisbane, with the flight being only 3 hours along! It was also the most affordable option. (I also considered Wellington, NZ. Maybe next time!) In an effort to save money, I also decided to make it a short trip. So short, in fact, my total time in Auckland was almost exactly 24 hours. I landed at 730PM in the city and left at 7 PM the next day. It was the most affordable flight and it allowed me to save on accommodation as well.
Where I Stayed
Accommodation in New Zealand – along with everything else – is pretty notoriously expensive. Even hostels can go for about 50 USD a night, and that includes sharing a room with 4-6 people. While I love and strive to be frugal while traveling, and do like some aspects of hostel-life, it really isn’t for me. I like personal space, even if it’s just for a short trip. That’s why AirBnb was my best option. I booked a room for just $38 USD in Mount Albert. It was quiet, had a heated blanket (perfect because it was freezing in New Zealand compared to Brissy!), was a short walk from the train station and had a lovely host who allowed me exactly what I wanted – to be left to my own devices. Plus there was a dog. This is why I love AirBnb, I was able to have the privacy of a hotel room while also spending less than what I would have at a hostel! I seriously encourage all traveling, especially those traveling alone, to support locals and stay with AirBnb. You can also get $40 off your first booking here .
What I Did
Since I had very little time to spare, I walked from the Skybus stop to my AirBnb, checked in, grabbed keys and touched up my makeup and was on my way out for the night. It was already almost nine pm, but I hadn’t eaten except for a bit of plane food, so I headed to a restaurant I had decided on for dinner thanks to suggestions from fellow bloggers (my whole trip itinerary was thanks to the help of fellow bloggers, especially Laura at The Willful and Wildhearted! Thanks Laura!) I picked an American-style diner in the heart of Auckland called The Federal Delicatessen. Much to my surprise, the restaurant was right underneath the Auckland Skytower, which was all lit up and more enticing than I expected! I’m not huge on viewpoints/towers, as they’re usually quite expensive, but being so close up to the Sky Tower did make me consider it! If you like these sort of experiences, I’d definitely suggest it. I didn’t fit it into my short trip.
Anyway, so back to the restaurant. “The Fed” boasts New York-style food such as pastrami sandwiches, but what sparked my interest in their menu was that they offered poutine – or hot chips with gravy and cheese curds. For whatever reason, proper cheese curds are ‘illegal’ in Australia as the cheese is usually unpastruized. Poutine is typically a Canadian snack, but I discovered it a few years ago in Portland and I love it, and I miss normal cheese curds! They’re supposed to be squeaky and a bit hard and Australia’s (and New Zealand’s unfortuantely..) are soft and just not the same. But dinner for me was poutine, and chocolate-cherry pie which I ate before I could photograph. The restaurant had seats along the sandwich bar, so it was perfect for travelling alone. Plenty going on to watch and listen in on, and I didn’t feel like I looked too lonely. The poutine wasn’t quite the same as back home but it was pretty good and the pie was even better.
Next, I ventured to Danny Doolans, an Irish bar along the harbour. This was suggested to me by a Welsh friend of mine and I was not disappointed. I should mention that I came to New Zealand on a Sunday night, so it was not the most ideal timing for a night out, but you wouldn’t have been able to guess from this bar. Though when I first arrived around ten it was fairly quiet, there was still a live band going and I was comfortable enough listening and sitting at the bar with a drink. Within an hour, the place was packed with fellow travelers. I met people from England, Ireland and a few locals. People were dancing and singing along, with some even jumping onstage themselves. The band was still going when I left shortly after midnight and there was no indication that anyone had to work in the morning, which made for a perfect only night out in Auckland.
Onto the next morning. I checked out of my AirBnb and headed for Mount Eden, a large volcanic peak somewhat out of place in the otherwise very-urban Auckland. I stopped for a coffee after getting off the train and then made the semi-steep trek up, but the view was worth it. It only takes about 15-20 minutes to get up to the top, and you can see the entire city. It’s also home to a magnificent giant grassy crater that is considered sacred. It’s beautiful and the perfect free excursion within town.
From here I walked to Ponsonby Central. It was a long, long walk but because I didn’t have cell service I couldn’t catch an uber, so I was left to hoof it! Ponsonby Central is a popular market with restaurants, fresh fruit/veg and other organic products, wine, etc. It wasn’t very busy on a Monday morning, but it was fun to browse around and check out souvenirs and food.
Here I finally had WiFi, so I caught an Uber into the ‘downtown’ area of Auckland to see what that was all about. Admittedly, it is pretty ordinary. There are a lot of the same shops as Australia, but I did duck into a few souvenir shops trying to find chocolate as requested by Scarlett, the little one I live with. I walked down the main drag of the city until I made it to the harbor, and then walked along to the popular Viaduct Harbour area. I was starving but being SO indecisive about what I felt like eating, and I regret not stopping along the wharf for some oysters. The harbor was lovely to look at, despite that it kept pouring down rain every twenty minutes or so.
Tired of walking, I headed for a suburb called Parnell that another blogger had recommended to me. Here I had great Italian food (gnocchi!) at Osteria and wandered in and out of a few trendy shops. I even finally found some locally made chocolates! This was also near the Auckland Domain, which I didn’t make it into as I got a bit lost!
After all of this I finally headed to a last café to have my fourth coffee of the day (all that walking makes a girl crave caffeine!) and then hopped on the Skybus back to Auckland Airport.
What I Missed
Waiheke Island. I really wanted to take the ferry out here for some wine tasting that sounded RIGHT up my alley, but unfortunately the weather made me feel like it just wouldn’t be the best experience for this particular trip. If you are looking at travelling to Auckland though, I highly recommend looking it up! It looks beautiful and it’s famous for it’s wine!
Cereal Killa Cafe. I also tried to go to Cereal Killa Cafe as a last stop, as it’s conveniently located near the SkyBus stop (and not so conveniently located outside of the city) but I got there too late and it was closed! Rookie mistake. They have massive and indulgent freak-shakes.
Venturing out of the city. I know a lot of New Zealand’s beauty comes from its landscapes, mountains, waterfalls, etc. and while this is the stuff I really love to visit when I travel, it was just too much to try and do something outside of Auckland with only one day in town.
Accomodation: For a trip of any length in Auckland, stay in an AirBnb. You’ll save money, meet locals and have more privacy than if you went the other frugal route of staying in a hostel. I stayed in Mount Albert which was inexpensive, but I recommend Parnell, Ponsonby or Mount Eden to keep you closer into the city, especially if you are on foot!
Getting Around: I took the train once using a one-off paper ticket, from Mt Albert to Mt Eden. Uber is pretty affordable in NZ as well. The Auckland Skybus is $35NZD roundtrip to/from the airport. It makes stops in the city as well as a few in outer suburbs on the way.
Restaurants: The Fed, Osteria, Café Mont, Cereal Killa, and finally Danny Doolans if you want a drink!
Experiences: Mt Eden Hike, Ponsonby Central Markets, Auckland Domain, Waiheke Island.
Have you been to Auckland? Is there anything I missed that you think I could have crammed in? Let me know in the comments below!