Two Weeks in Auckland New Zealand
My two weeks in Auckland marks the begining of my world travel where I actually leave North America. WooHoo!
I arrived at the
Middle Earth Auckland airport to be greeted by this friendly Dwarf. It seems every part of New Zealand has been touched or affected by the Lord of the Rings movies. This was just the start of many other run ins with the legacy of Peter Jackson.
Auckland was both super fun and super relaxing at the same time. I stayed with my friend Matt who I met in the Chicago Swing Dance scene. Matt is n amazing host. Not only did he picked me up from the airport he also drove me around to lots of cool places and dances. Matt’s got a nice house in New Lynn at the top of a hill so there is a great view of Auckland that spreads out from his balcony. This is the same balcony where I learned that New Zealand does not really have much ozone over it.
It seems most people in New Zealand all hate Auckland. At least they seem to love to hate it. My guess is that it is the largest city. Kind of how people love to hate New York. I’m not sure why. I really liked the city. Probably because it doesn’t feel like a city. Well the downtown area does but the rest of it just feels like one huge suburb with some tiny areas with storefronts.
Immediately on arriving in Auckland Matt took me to the Arataki Visitor Centre and we took a nice nature walk. I got to look at all the local plants that were all labeled for identification. The area is beautiful with lots of lush greenery and views that go on forever.
The weather in Auckland is just fantastic. Any warm weather is fantastic after spending a rainy couple days in Vancouver, but this is just perfect. Cool air with warm sunshine. I feel I really did plan my arrival date well. New Zealand is just rolling into summer. The nights can still get a little cool, but the days are warm. Thanks to all the CFC’s that were spayed into the air in the last few decades there is not much of an ozone layer left above New Zealand. I found out my potential to burn after I spend only 20 minutes in the sun one morning. It was not a bad burn, but there was some redness and definitely a bit of soreness. SPF 30 has been one of my closest friends since.
Highlights of Auckland include some of the typical ones like the Sky Tower, and One Tree Hill, and Lion Rock.
One of the biggest shocks I found was the price of pretty much everything. When I booked the Stray bus tour the exchange rate with Canadian dollar was $1.30. I figured this would help me stretch my dollar. But by the time I arrived the exchange was only $1.07. And everything is super expensive. At the Sky Tower I found a jar of honey for sale at $78.50. Yes that is the correct price. This jar has a UMF of 10+. I still don’t know what the UMF thing means but the ratings I saw go up to 30+ so this is not even the most expensive jar. For reference this jar would go for around $30 NSD in the grocery store.
Before going out dancing one night Matt and I went for a snack. I was a bit shocked when my sliders cost $17, with no fries included! You can imagine I took lots of small bites and chewed as much as I could. I wanted to get every bit of flavour I could out of these sliders. Alas this meal was just foreshadowing for what I was about to find out across New Zealand. Food is super expensive.
I originally met Matt in the dance scene in Chicago. Here in Auckland he often is out dancing so I tagged along to a few of the dances. The dance scene in Auckland is pretty small but like most small dance scenes the dancers are super enthusiastic. The guys in the Auckland Vintage Jazz Society have been playing together for longer than I have been alive.
I met some more local Aucklanders at some blues parties as well.
Adventures in losing my wallet
I guess there are always going to be hiccups when traveling. I ran into my first one fairly quickly after arriving in Auckland. I lost my wallet.
There is nothing like the feeling of reaching for what I thought was the interior pocked of my jacket and finding that the bottom is not sewn shut. Within five minutes of being dropped off downtown I realized my wallet had parted ways with me. I double checked where I got out of the car but no wallet was there. Eventually I resigned myself to the fact that I would be needing to cancel several credit cards and go through the hassle of getting new ones sent to me. Ug, not what I really wanted to do. Maybe I was in shock but I was surprised how little time I spent worrying about the loss.
However this story does not have a sad ending. After about 20 minutes I received a twitter message that read;
@VelvetLounger I found your wallet. To see your impressive number of credit cards again… Well just reply to me here or on Facebook 🙂
To which I responded;
“Hi I would love to reconnect with my credit cards. How can I find you?”
His name is Chris. He texted his address which was a short 15 minute walk from where I received the text. After a short walk I met Chris and got my wallet returned, and a selfie with Chris. After telling myself that I was not too stressed about losing the wallet I can’t describe the overwhelming feeling of relief and the adrenaline rush I got when Chris texted me.
Star Wars episode 7 was released when I was in Auckland. I was not too keen on fighting the crowds just to see it on the first night. Then Matt let me know there is a theater where they have lazy-boy seats and assigned seating. That and the fact that I would be able to watch the movie 18 hours before anyone in the US put me in a position where i had to attend. Good movie, not great, but loads better than the prequel trilogy.
That’s it for Auckland. I am writing this post a week late while already on the Stray bus. The bus has been a constant adventure for the last two weeks. My plan is to do a weekly summary of all the bus adventures. The first instalment will be up shortly.
I will be back in Auckland in about two weeks. Let me know if there is anything you think I need to see while I am in town. Sweet As.