02.01.2014 - 04.01.2014 22 °C
Before boarding our flight to Auckland we paid a quick trip to our new spiritual home:
Our flight with China Airways was really good! Very comfty, great movies (The Butler with Forrestt Whittiker and Oprah Winfrey - brilliant film!), and some surprisingly good pasta (no pesto though!) an amazing cookies!
Three hours later and we had touched down in New Zealand, home of the Maori, Kiwi fruits, rugby, EPIC scenery and Middle Earth (Nick was very excited about this).
TIP: If you are flying to New Zealand you must have you outward flight from New Zealand booked and show the confirmation at the checkin desk or your not getting on the plane. Luckily we had our flights back home booked but this caught a lot of people out who then had to desperately book a flight out of New Zealand last minute!
New Zealand is as strict as Australia for restrictions into the country, so when you are filling in your immigration card you need to be honest. So when we came to question “do you have any items which have been used outdoors, eg Tents, camping gear, shoes etc” we both ticketed yes, as we had our walking boots, last used a while ago.
At passport control the very friendly guy didn’t say anything to us ticking yes so we went through to the next area, quarantine! Where another nice man asked what items we had used outdoors, we replied “walking boots although they are clean and haven’t been used in a while” he ticked the form and sent us to the x ray machine for our bags to be scanned. To my surprise they put my big backpack to one side and asked if I had any walking boots, confused I said yes and got them out. I was then passed to another guys (who was not as nice). The conversation ran something like this:
“Why did you lie about having walking boots? This is a $400 on the spot fine”
“I didn’t I ticked yes, look”
“What did you tell my colleague”
“That I have walking boots”
“Oh, I’ll check with my colleague”
After a few minutes he came back and started writing my name on a card. “Not ticket, no boots” and hands me a ticket.
“Sorry what, are you taking my boots off me?”
“We’re cleaning them, go to the Bio Hazard window in 20 minutes and pick them up”
Being relived, slightly confused (more so that Nick has also ticked yes to boots and having food in his bag and was not searched?!) and happy I now had super clean boots!
Our hostel had advised us to get the SkyBus Express into the centre of town which should only take about 40 minutes and cost NZ$15.90 per person. Our driver was brilliant though, really fun and kept making announcements over the intercom to let everyone know the stops.
We checked into The AtticYour text to link here...Your text to link here... which was really centrally located just off the main strip and was on the top floor of a converted factory. We had opted for another private after our flight and by the time we had gone shopping and eaten it was already getting pretty late so both ended up crashing out. Sadly our hostel turned out to be pretty noisy due to it’s city centre location so neither of us slept very well.
Next morning and we were up early to make the most of our only full day in the city (until we get back in a month for our flight to London). Auckland is built atop roughly 50 volcanoes, many of which are still active and this makes for a really interesting skyline as you have random green “humps” in the middle of the suburbs. Many of these are sacred sights for the Maori, one of the most famous being Mount Eden which was only about an hours walk from our hostel. It was definitely worth the very steep climb to the top as the views over Auckland were incredible!
From here we made our way back towards the city picking up a self guided walking tour which was detailed in Lonely Planet which took in a lot of the main sights and areas of the city including the Old Town Hall, University Clock Tower and Albert Park.
Our walking tour finished at Wynward Harbour with it’s swanky bars and cool art installations.
Along the way we also swung into the Auckland Art Gallery which had some very interesting pieces of Maori art as well as lots of contemporary pieces (Believe it or not these two pictures are of the same building!).
After a whole day of walking around the city by 16:00 we were feeling tired so headed back to the hostel for a fun filled evening of packing, Googling, planning and booking - the joys! Sadly another noisy night meant very little sleep for either us, not great when you are about to start another epic road trip - 30 days driving around New Zealand!!