Sorry Edinburgh, I think I’ve found an even more livable city.
Added plus: Auckland comes with its own charming slang. I hear “sweet as” everywhere here, just like we’d say cool or awesome in the United States.
For example …
Q: How was that bungy jump?
A: Sweet as!
Q: Is this feijoa delicious, or what?
A: Sweet as.
Sweet as for me, there was a direct flight from Buenos Aires to Auckland, New Zealand. And it was only 13 hours long — not too bad considering that flying from, say, London would take 30+ hours and require at least one plane change.
I also had a great flight experience. Even though my plane left Buenos Aires at 11:59 p.m. (yikes!) and arrived in Auckland at 4:30 a.m. (more yikes!), my New Zealand Air Boeing 777 had just 75 passengers on board. That meant we could all spread/stretch out and zzzzzzzzz. I moved to an empty row that NZ Air calls a Skycouch where three adjoining seats reconfigure into one platform. These economy section rows are designed for families on long-haul flights. Having my own “shelf” was fantastic and, sleep-space-wise, rivaled any business class seat I’ve ever had — and for much, much less money. Between the nice crew, my Skycouch shelf, and an easy check-in process, I loved flying Air New Zealand.
But not as much as I have loved being in Auckland!
What a beautiful city. Where do I start?
- First … while it’s technically winter here, the temps are fairly mild. Plus, it’s been quite sunny. Even when it rains, though, it’s easy to be out-n-about thanks to the wide sidewalks and widespread use of huge awnings on commercial buildings. Like these …
- Auckland is CLEAN. The air is fresh, and the streets approach Japan levels of spotlessness.
- And there are so many beautiful streets! Lovely neighborhoods like Ponsonby and Parnell are jam-packed with shops and restaurants and beautiful “timber houses” with Victorian architecture. I snapped these photos of some houses in nearby Devonport. Even the chimneys are charming!
- And there’s coffee. EVERYWHERE there’s coffee! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a city’s streets more densely packed with restaurants and coffee shops. And the coffee is great. Make mine a large. 🙂
- And there are islands. EVERYWHERE there are islands! From Auckand’s harbour, it’s easy to take a ferry to islands like Rangitoto and Waiheke … or a 10 minute ride to suburban Devonport. I spent one night on Waiheke, and it was sweet as (tee hee). More details and photos to come, but here’s a sneak peek …
- My main accommodation has been at an Airbnb room in Ponsonby. But, for my first jet-laggy night, I stayed at the SkyCity GRAND hotel. It’s centrally located and right next to Auckland’s iconic Sky Tower.
- New Zealand is the home of extreme sports, and visitors will notice offers for adventurous excursions everywhere. If that’s your idea of a good time, you can skydive and bungy your way across the country. You can even jump off the Sky Tower. Or … you can opt for a much less extreme walk around the tower’s edge. Which is what I did. That’s me teetering!
- New Zealand is also the home of … Hobbits! While I may have a few bones to pick with Peter Jackson over his Hobbit movie trilogy, I remain a diehard fan of his three Lord of the Rings films, which were all shot in New Zealand. I could be imagining it, but I see LOTR inspiration everywhere here. I mean, check out this tree!
- While here, I learned that Auckland’s nickname is The City of Sails. If you enlarge this photo and try to count the many sails in the distance, you’ll see what all the fuss is about …
I’ve been so impressed with Auckland and the quality of life it offers residents. I haven’t taken a lot of photos because I’ve been more focused (so to speak) on just hanging out … and eating … and walking … and exploring … and drinking lots and lots of coffee. So much coffee!!!
The only downside for a tourist without a car — like me — would be Auckland’s size. It’s not walkable like Edinburgh, and getting to all the local goodies takes some doing. For my needs, the city’s bus network has worked pretty well. Green “Inner Link” buses connect surrounding neighborhoods (like Ponsonby) with the CBD (central business district), and red “City Link” buses run through the CBD.
Most guide books recommend staying just a few nights (at most) in Auckland, but I’ve spent more than a week here … and counting. The longer stay has given me a chance to enjoy things like:
- Visiting the fantastic Auckland War Memorial Museum
- Eating green-lipped mussels at the Auckland Fish Market
- Chilling out at Remedy Coffee
- Visiting The Women’s Bookshop (OMG!!!) in Ponsonby
- Doing some leisurely island hopping
- Walking miles and miles through beautiful neighborhoods and shopping districts
- And discovering an “American” foods section in the local grocery store. Hmmmm … that’s an interesting selection of items. I didn’t realize we were a nation of Nerds and Jolly Time Popcorn lovers!
Spending extra time in Auckland has also given me the chance to plan my New Zealand itinerary. The choices for exploring both the North and South Islands are overwhelming, but I’m feeling more prepared thanks to my time here.
So stay tuned. More sweet as adventure to come!