After a long drive up from my adventures in Te Kuiti, I finally arrived in Auckland just as the sun was setting. Having left my rental car at the airport, I rolled into town on the bus, which conveniently dropped me right around the corner from my hostel, a place complete with the creepiest lift I’ve ever had the pleasure of riding, The Attic Backpackers.
After checking in and abandoning my belongings in my room, I decided that I was ready to give Auckland a second chance– I feel like we got off to a bad start when I first arrived, jet lagged like crazy. The Christmas lights of department store Smith and Caughey were twinkling away down on Queen Street as I found myself in search of FOOD.
Last time I was in Auckland, I don’t recall leaving the hostel at night, so to see the city all abuzz and lit up was something new and exciting. For dinner, I knew exactly what I wanted to eat, I had grand designs on trying my first Wendy’s burger (Not a very New Zealand choice, I know!) I’m not about to sit here and describe my fast food experience to you but let me just say that I very much enjoyed 1. the burger and 2. the American portion sizes!!
Tired from the driving and now starting to ache after all that physical activity in the caves earlier on, I took myself off to bed, which I’m pleased to report was soft as a cloud.
The next day, I had allotted myself another full 24 hours in Auckland. With help from Andreas (now advising me from back in Sweden) I had settled on the idea of wandering up to explore Karangahape Road, or K-road as the locals know it. The street was formerly Auckland’s shopping hub back in the sixties, but know it’s more of a hipster location, home to heaps of cafes and vintage shops as well as I’m sure hundreds of food outlets. I had a wander, nipping into various interesting shops, but nothing really captured my interest too much, although perhaps my attention was wavering due to the heat– summer is definitely upon us!
I wandered through St. Kevin’s Arcade, a neo-Greek 1920’s building that is very beautiful. It sits at the top end of Myers park,which is an obvious favourite location of mine because my surname is all over the damn place. I took a leisurely stroll down the stairs and through the park, on a path lined with huge palm trees, finding myself back in the city centre in no time at all. “Now what?” I thought.
Time for Plan B. I slowly made my way down to the wharf, taking in the surreal sights of Christmas decorations on the way, soon I was purposefully taking streets I didn’t recognise. I stumbled upon the shiny Britomart centre and admired how crisp the skyline looked against the deep blue sky. With the midday sun beaming down, I upped my pace and before I knew it, I was on a ferry to Devonport.
Devonport is a suburb of Auckland, on the north shore, home to the New Zealand navy and accessible by a 12 minute ferry ride from the CBD. It’s a really cute little spot, the place feels very charming and old fashioned thanks to its architecture.
On the sunny day of my visit, the streets were lined with people sat outside cafes and bars, enjoying ice creams and beers as they soaked up the rays. It was very idyllic. I realised that I too was in urgent need of refreshment, so I did a lap of the town, scoping out the cutest looking café I could find. I settled on a place called Corelli’s, nestled in right next to the town’s beautiful old cinema. I ordered a fruity iced tea and the most delicious lemon and passion fruit slice I’ve ever eaten. I ate it slowly because I never wanted the party in my mouth to end. It was also a prime people watching spot, nicely located in the shade too.
After lunch (don’t tell me I can’t have cake for lunch) I took a little walk around the town, particularly to have a nosey at the beautiful houses down Anne Street. They’re like little villas, really ornate wooden structures, mostly painted white and almost all with accompanying perfect gardens. I want one. It was whilst wandering around the neighbourhood that I realised just how bloody hot it was, taking the chance to hide in the shade of each and every tree that cast a shadow across the path. I’d considered taking the hillside walk up Mount Victoria, but it was sweltering heat and I bottled it. Wandering back along the waterfront, I had to admire the particularly beautiful Pōhutukawa trees, vibrant red and in full bloom. Side note: they’re known as the New Zealand Christmas tree because in December they all suddenly bloom and they look incredible.
Having killed a few hours, I hopped back on the ferry and back to my hostel. I took the opportunity to catch up on some life admin (you have to make the most of a hostel when it has great wifi) before venturing back out with my camera as the sun wound down for the day. I strolled down towards the wharf again, in hopes of catching a pretty sunset sky looking back over the Auckland skyline.
The most bizarre part of my day was down at the wharf too. I was enjoying the less intense heat of the evening and soaking up the views whilst listening to a brass band playing Christmas songs. The whole idea of Christmas here on the Southern Hemisphere is very surreal to me, but that moment caught me particularly off guard! Strange too because I associate the sound of a brass band so heavily with the north of England… hmm!
The day had a great end too, when I found myself in a particularly engaging chat with an American roomie back at the hostel, a lovely girl called Bina. I was sad to leave so early the next morning without getting to exchange details. But for now, my time in Auckland was up, surprisingly I’d really enjoyed myself.
Next stop: The Coromandel.