Category Archives: New Zealand

Give Auckland some Love!

AUCKLAND! I didn’t know you had it in you! 


Considering the fact that every New Zealand traveller seems to have a hate on for Auckland I had low expectations…I imagined it being a dirty port with nothing to do and poor 70’s architecture.   After my 1.5 days there pre Bali flight 1.0 I would have been in agreement with my fellow travellers.  Not ‘hating’ Auckland, but certainly not loving it.  The reason people probably don’t like it, is that it isn’t cohesive with what foreigners portray to be ‘New Zealand’.  When you think NZ, you think the great outdoors: mountains, vineyards, lakes, ocean, sounds…you think bungee, caving, zorbing, surfing…Auckland is a city.  There are buildings, brands, suits, and traffic…everything I love. 


Perhaps my opinion is a bit different because I still miss Sydney every day and Auckland has the extra pace of a city that I haven’t had in over a month (even Wellington didn’t have the same pep to the step).  Perhaps my disenchantment with Christchurch is similar to what people feel about Auckland…I was in my room for 5 days…a long time compared to most who stay for 1 or 2 nights, and everyone passing through said ‘this isn’t the real New Zealand’….which made me realize all over again how expectations drastically change your perspective on a city.  Half of those same travellers loved Sydney and Melbourne…so they didn’t not like cities…they just didn’t want to be in one in NZ.


Anyway, that being said, why I loved Auckland….which if I may add is impressive seeing as how I was only in Auckland because of my missed flight to bali…not an extra couple days but an extra WEEK.


Similar to why I love Sydney, Auckland has different districts that are their own distinct communities.  So, when I decided to walk a 23km loop through the main central places, I felt like I’d seen more than just one city. 


My favourite, Ponsonby, is a mix of old buildings refurbished, and new modern designs.  Ponsonby Road houses a Deli/Bakery, just south of lululemon on the west side of the road….and it is AMAZING.  (Literally Ponsonby Deli is what is on my cc statement…wish it was more specific)  I had a bacon and egg pie that might have been the best thing I ate in New Zealand.  It was mostly egg white and low fat back bacon with tomatoes and spinach.  Not your typical NZ individual meat pie, more like a slice of quiche…but so fresh, handmade crust, and so goooooood.  I also picked up a pumpkin lentil enchilada to go…which to be fair should have been heated, but I was ravenous 15km later and had it cold for lunch at Mission Bay.  There were about 20 other places I wanted to eat in Ponsonby, but the whole 500 dollar whoopsy thing had me on a budget.  I also went to a free crossfit session at the lululemon store on Thursday night which I’m still aching from in a park nearby that  had a picture perfect view over Auckland…which I must say isn’t hard to find as it seems to always be a hill (so maybe it is the real nz?)


Anyway,  Wynyard quarter!  Every inch of waterfront capitalized with cute cafes turned clubs at night and industrial container style restaurants and tapas along the North Wharf…and don’t forget the free outdoor movies every Friday night at Silo Park…A concrete park that actually is kinda cozy. Totally trendy, but also super classy…the Auckland version of the Rocks in Sydney…Many people group Britomart into the Wynyard quarter area because it’s still fairly waterfront.  Don’t be like I first was and assume Britomart is JUST the transit station! Keep heading east and find high end shops including another lululemon with free yoga on Wednesday night! Also found Kikki.k, the best Swedish inspired stationary shop EVER and a place called Smart sushi which is a white man’s sushi dream….I don’t know if we can call it fusion because it doesn’t exactly mix in different ingredients…but using rice and seaweed as the ‘bread’ filled with chicken katsu and veggies for a sandwich is pretty cool….at least from my landlocked Albertan perspective.  By far the best looking sushi I saw in all of Auckland!  Make sure to hit the North Wharf at night! The skyline is incredible!!


Queen Street…am I secretly in Japan?? …in a good way.  Lanes and side streets lined with independent pubs and street performers surprise you left and right as you head up the CBDs main road. Busy, but not too busy…and SO. Much. SUSHI!…as well as Japanese discount stores like Daiso where you can get everything under the sun (Literally….tupperware, false eyelashes, boxers, fake flowers..) for 3 bucks.  There are also a lot of Japanese exchange students at Auckland University’s central campus…but I’m mostly referring to the sushi. Not to be missed, Giapo… an experimental gelateria….I had a Rose and pistachio gelato….amazing, and each scoop is treated like a work of art…pricy? yes…but so soooo worth it (you’ll find it on Queen just down from the cinema!)Image


Mount Eden! Now that’s a volcano with a VIEW.  About a 2.5 hour excursion from most of the hostels on Queen Street if you walk the whole way (OR take public transit…MAX 1.90!!)  Mt. Eden is a dormant volcano that is Auckland’s highest natural point (SkyTower is the highest building in the Southern Hemisphere…apparently?).  The volcano part is kinda cool…but what’s really amazing is the 360 degree view of Auckland…hit it midday and at sunset for equally amazing views! (now THAT was a sunset!)


K’Road which was super keen on Pride week, nicely links Queen Street and Ponsonby Rd is lined with clubs, cafes, and copious amounts of late night food. It seemed a bit stingy to me….probably because pre missing my first flight I was being a high roller and fell in love with the class and older crowd in Wynyard/Queen Street….which was a great change from students and backpackers (let’s be honest, neither of the last 2 demographics buy a girl dranks).  On the note of going out…There is a pub called Provendor? Anyway, its right next to Fix by the cruise ships….that has free bbqs on Friday nights.  Also Auckland’s “Big Night Out’ is probably the best deal around…6 drinks, entry to 10 clubs, no need to follow the crawl…free pizza…Starts at QF Tavern Tues-Sat night and costs only 25 bones.  Wednesday is Student night, then weekends or nights of rugby games are big…otherwise don’t expect anything too bumpin….Also, SO MANY OLD PEOPLE go out….Danny Doolan’s was supposed to be ‘amazing’….everyone was 40+…..good on em, but I peaced out next door to degree where 18 year olds were discovering fist pumping and requesting levels on repeat (we all have our nights)…


Side note: I also participated in 4 human pyramids as part of O week activities in Albert park….Memories…


What’s left…Ahhh Mission Bay…the beach! Actually much nicer than I expected, but same old…didn’t snack or anything so I can’t really give a fair review other than Auckland does have beach…and it’s a great run to and from the city.   Also Parnell…didn’t care for Parnell, seemed like an old person’s Pononsbly…but some people really liked it.  Things looked a little more quaint, little older…that’s all.


Then Auckland has Rangitoto and Davenport islands to the North as well as some sort of Waterpark I think… It ISN’T THAT BAD!


You will find $1 small coffees at Fix, tons of McD’s, Burger King, and $5 sushi.  Also, take a walk down high street/Lorne street (one off of Queen) for great lunch cafes bound to be packed weekday lunchours.  Revive is a chain that you will find through Auckland which offers gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, dairy free options galore in their fresh kitchen using in season ingredients for an ever changing menu.  They are super affordable as well…A salad, soup, and roll for 10 dollars take away!  Oooh you will also find heaps of 10 dollar indian lunch specials including curry, rice, naan, and a drink-proper steal! Also there is a sweet super industrial café/bar down Fort Lane….you will know it when you see it…I was only there every day….just far too self involved to know where I was…


That should give you a good start at enjoying a city that may not be ‘the great outdoors’ but still offers the friendliness and diversity of what I would say is ‘the REAL New Zealand’.

How to stay in Shape while Travelling

For starters…avoid injuries. Splitting my knee open was the beginning of a bad 2 month spell for me. Prior to that I had been running daily in Australia. I must say, it’s not ideal to run daily when staying in hostels for a few reasons…your stuff stinks, and you need to air it out but you share a room with 7 strangers, you’re the only one going…coming back after 1km still seems like an accomplishment, you are going to have to do laundry more often…which in AUS/NZ is an 8 dollar setback each time. BUT I will say, that I have had the most fun, taken the most photos, and been most keen to try new things when I’ve been fit and feeling good about myself.

I’ve been doing pretty well for the last few weeks in New Zealand, but only running a couple times a week…here are a few tips on getting active (For cheap) regularly while living a nomadic lifestyle…or just going to Mexico.

1. WALK. Seriously…I walked 23km yesterday. I saw more of Auckland than on the $40 grey haired bus, got to stop when and where I wanted. Got to window shop 10s of sweet cafes for lunch and eat it looking over the whole of downtown. All in all I burned around 1200 calories yesterday (Auckland has nasty hills)…and didn’t feel like I was ‘working out’ at all. Free and easy. Check sites like Mapmyrun to see run/walk routes people have already taken…or just ask the info centre where the bus usually goes and follow a route. 20km can take less than 6 hours…it’s actually great time to reflect if you’re travelling alone.

2. lululemon athletica. I am going to free yoga tonight at the Britomart location, and free bootcamp tomorrow at the Ponsonby location AND (for the traveller) they supply mats and/or equipment!! Every non-factory outlet lululemon has free in store classes (or should)…and if they aren’t hosting them they should have passes (free or $5 ish) to other local studios. They should also be able to tell you great runs in the area…be ware of being distracted by 100 pants….it defeats the `cheap workout` purpose…

3. Trial Weeks. Yoga studios (like when I went to Bikram Noosa) will usually have some sort of first week or 3 classes for less than 20 dollars…which is all you ever need when travelling! Also, gyms will usually give you a week for 20 bucks as well…especially if you find ones that are new to the area. I am trying out a gym called lifestyle fitness on a FREE 7day trial in Auckland at the moment!

4. YouTube. 8 minute abs, buns, thighs, arms, back….my heroes thanks to my old roommate Jenny. I’m pretty sure they have all sorts of other exercise programs, but whether you watch and go, or just write down the sequences they are quick [not that embarassing] exercises you can do in your dorm room or at a park close by that dont require weights, and will keep your muscles working without leaving drenched bootcamp style.

5. Take Away containers. Buy one, recycle one…whatever the case, always have one accessible. I find backpacking, it’s excruciating to throw away food…even if it rotting from the inside out. For that reason, before I had my container I was always over eating just out of ‘not wasting food’. Have a container around and spread out small meals…it will make you more comfortable on those nasty bus rides if you don’t eat the whole bag of pasta first anyhow.

6. WATER. Yes, common sense…but it’s free…it keeps you hydrated so you aren’t to tired or lazy to do day long walks or hikes, and it helps you not over-eat. Never mind the fact that you don’t want sun stroke to ruin your limited time in a location.

7. Take the stairs. It may seem minimal…but even if you’re on the 8th floor…if stairs are accessible, take them…if you’re in a shopping centre skip the escalator. I’m not saying run them, or do doubles…you can even walk really slow and pretend to be on the phone if it makes you feel better. Every little bit counts when your travelling. It is extra cardio-and tones those glutes!

8. Long walks on the beach. Walk in the dry sand, get your calves an extra work out. And for the sake of everyone else laying on the beach…DON’T wear your flip flops! On this not of beaches…if you’re near one, go often. My worst month of staying fit was when I was working then partying constantly and didn’t hit the beach for 25 days….day 26-30 was self pity and denial…but having to be in a bikini definitely sparked motivation for me to get it together.

So thanks to the meatheads from Minnesota that I’ve been sharing a room with for the last few days….as they had no interest in hearing about where to travel or what to do…but only how to stay in shape. “You weigh less than 200lbs. hey?” “I’d hope so” “is that lots for a chick? …if I can’t find a gym can I press you?” “no?” “Come on, you’re hot, and I need to stay hot” “was asking if I was 200lbs a pick up line” “yeah…well, and I do need to press something” ……welcome to hostel life.

$500 whoopsies…

So I will say that I definitely am at fault…but I will say that I have a dickhead travel agent I’m not pleased with at the moment either. Basically her email to me said “Here is the ticket for your flights to Bali on Feb 25″…and my notes from our meeting say Feb 25…So, I booked everything around the 25…So on the 24 I go to double check my flight times…and surprise! Flight was at 6am on Feb 24…

My travel agent from StudentFlights neglected to do anything to help me reschedule my flights…NO student flights locations answered their phones. I went to the Auckland airport (I was flying Auckland to Sydney 10 hour lay over then Syd to Bali) where every flight to Sydney was over 900 dollars…On the phone JetStar said there was nothing they could do…

My AMAZING friends Jen and Marissa were on it from Canada…Marissa does scheduling for work and was able to get in touch with Jetstar and get me a muchh cheaper…but not that cheap…transfer til Saturday…so One more week in Auckland in food and hostels, change fees, and a new flight from auckland to Sydney…

It makes it quite entertaining to me that I have been going out of my way to save 40 cents on yogurt, and one mis-read equals half a grand… Definitely not a mistake I’ll be making again…*Eye roll to self, finger to Student Flights*

I will say on a side not Flight Center has been amazing for trying to help me with my RTW itinerary and were the only ones here trying remotely to help me out even though it wasn’t their error.