Sorry NZ’s largest city, we only gave you an evening, but you proved yourself and we’ll be back. I wish we’d had a full day to explore the rose garden in Parnell, the suburb of Devenport and the Art Gallery and its surrounding parks, but by the time we cleared customs at the airport and caught the Air Bus straight to downtown, it was 6pm. But we made the most of it!
I made sure we had a central sleeping spot — very affordable and quaint Shakespeare Tavern and Brewery five blocks from the waterfront. Our cozy room was up four flights of wooden stairs with murals painted along the walls and we had a “balcony” – ie if we climbed out the window we could stand on part of the roof and see the ocean. Tres chic!
We spent the last few hours of sunlight exploring the harbors — saw the America’s cup racing boat and the city branching out around it. Volcanic cones of this thin-crusted part of the Earth give the city a San Francisco in a kaleidoscope feel. Although Auckland may be home to a quarter of the entire country’s population (1.3 million of NZ’s total 4.4) it’s also one of the least dense cities in the world, so it has a character all its own.
We grabbed dinner on a rooftop at a cool industrial style restaurant boasting ½ off artisan pizzas on Tuesdays. THIS WAS A FIND (Thanks Rough Guide NZ – and Kelly T who gifted it to us) Who knew getting food to a tiny island at the bottom of the world would make it INSANELY EXPENSIVE. Even the tiniest cafes or casual restaurants are $17-$30 for a meal. A coffee is $4.00 hands down. Even at Starbucks. If you find yourself in Auckland on a Tuesday, definitely check out Tyler St. Garage (and their tiger prawn pizza and local wine) in the Biltmore Transport District where industrial buildings are transforming into trendy hangouts.
The rest of the night we spent enjoying getting lost – with a romp through Albert Park near the University. A guy named Trevor recommended we take the Green Lit bus out to Parnell to visit the rose gardens at sunset – and if you can find that freakin’ bus, more power to you. Or just get some KiwiYo and call it a night.