A quick overview of my two weeks stay in Auckland, where I stayed at the Verandahs Backpacker Lodge, the best place in the city to start a year journey in New Zealand. Okay, well maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but this hostel was a good start to meet some genuinely awesome people!
Freshly arrived, it’s a whole new world I’m discovering and new marks and habits I have to comprehend, and make mine. Auckland was my first dive into the New Zealand daily life. And it’s thrilling.
In Maori language, New Zealand is ‘Aotearoa‘ which means ‘land of the long white cloud’. Well, let’s see what this white cloud has to offer!
*Kia Ora means Hello in The Maori language
Auckland is the place where I discovered Burgerfuel, this Fast Food selling Kumara fries (Kumara is the New Zealand sweet potato) and Tim Tam (those delicious chocolate biscuits), where I tried to figure out how the public transport system is working (without being very successful) and realised that it’s okay to walk around the city (and it’s free), and finally learned to find my way in the city by looking up and searching for the Sky Tower. It’s the place where I learned how to spot the hot deals at the Countdown supermarket for it’s pretty expensive to buy food supplies in this country, and ended eating dinosaur’s shapes pasta and rice for two weeks (also with jam biscuits). It’s the place where I’d lost my awesome Catwoman T-Shirt bought in Japan (I’m still crying), that I was dancing all night long at the sound of old school music at Freeman & Grey (TLC? Really, folks?), but also in special dance clubs on K-Road. That’s the place where I ate the best cookies and muffins of my life on Queen Street… Well, okay, I’m talking a lot about food here.
And moreover! Auckland is the place where I had to request my IRD number which would allow me to work hard in New Zealand, where I got a new Sim Card thanks to Skinny and a brand new kiwi phone number that I still can’t seem to remember, where I opened a bank account in less than 30 minutes at the Kiwi Bank (with the best bank counsellor in the world who made sure I understood it all right) and transferred my money from France to this remote country thanks to Annabelle and her team from Transfermate. I also spent countless hours at the Library where you can find Free Wi-Fi and a copy machine which were pretty useful to scan forms for the money transfer (that was kinda hard to certify I was myself when I didn’t have any address and when you have to certify all your copied documents in this country, and it can take some time.)
And Auckland was also about those things:
KELLY TARLTON’S SEA LIFE AQUARIUM
There was a morning when I wake up with a stubborn idea: I wanna see some penguins. That’s a thing actually, like a fix, I need to see some penguins sliding on their bellies and flopping around. And since you can mostly find penguins on South Island, the best way to get my fix is to go to the aquarium. In which, besides penguins, I found myself surrounded by stingrays, sharks and seahorses! The entry fee is pretty expensive, but the place is quite amazing, with a shark tunnel and an entire area dedicated to Antarctica.
LET’S GO THERE!
Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium, free shuttle (in shape of a shark) departing 172 Quay Street in front of the Ferry Terminal every hour from 9:30 A.M to 3:30 P.M.
Thanks to the website bookme.co.nz, which is a great website to find good deals about loads of different kinds of activities, I went to spend a cold morning at the zoo. I met some strange birds with exotic names. And OH JOY, I saw a kiwi in the dark kiwi house! Kiwis are nocturnal animals so the kiwi house is plunged into darkness so the visitors can try to spot a kiwi bird running in the bush. And I spotted one! It lasted about 30 seconds, okay. And it was in a zoo, okay. In the darkness, ok. But that’s better than nothing, right? And I’m feeling like a kid! Tremendously happy to have seen such a rare bird!
LET’S GO THERE!
Auckland Zoo, Western Springs Park, the best way to get there is to take a bus, and since you never know where to get off for nothing is indicated, you better make a big smile at the driver while asking him to drop you off at the zoo!
As I was strolling at the Auckland Domain, I wanted to get a guided tour (called the Highlights Tour) at the Auckland Museum, the one standing on top of a volcano. The view over the city was stunning from there. As for the museum, it was truly interesting. An entire storey is dedicated to both World Wars, in which numerous New Zealanders and Australians were involved and killed, another one is dedicated to New Zealand natural history, and another one is dedicated to Maori history and arts. I got to visit a Marae, which is a traditional Maori communal place, for social or religious purposes. I also stumbled upon a fake life-size Moa, which completely fascinates me. This bird was so huge, it could height about 3 meters high, and is, unfortunately, extinct since the XVth Century. There was also some artists and cartoonists there, and a pretty nice girl drew my face with pretty nice colours and told me where to find a comic book shop in the city (yaaaaay!)
LET’S GO THERE!
Auckland War Memorial Museum, Auckland Domain, easily reachable on foot from Ponsonby (and there’s a nice cemetery to go for a stroll, the Symonds St Cemetery. The Highlights tours depart every day at 10:45, 12:45 and 14:15.
AUCKLAND ART GALLERY
Now, it’s time to get a glimpse at the New Zealand’s modern art. This little gem of a museum is totally free and offers guided tours every day at 11:30, 12:30 and 13:30. The guided tour allows you a better understanding of the work of arts exhibited in the museum as well as a background story of some artist.
LET’S GO THERE!
Auckland Art Gallery, Kitchener St and Wellesley St corner, really close to Queen Street and the Albert ParK.
Here’s a Tui bird singing!
(Sounds like R2D2, right?)