After a week on the road in our campervan, we made it to Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. The campervan was a great way to explore the country, but morning temperatures were gradually getting colder, and we weren’t packed accordingly.
Entering Auckland, we stopped off at the War Memorial Museum. This was both a museum and memorial, with the names of many fallen soldiers inscribed on the halls inside. The museum had exhibits ranging from the Maori Wars in the early stages of European settlement, to the Vietnam War and beyond. It was amazing to see how Kiwis were called up, historically as required for the British Empire, but still fought bravely and for the greater good of humanity. Their numbers were usually small comparatively, but their spirit and sacrifice was just as great. Some of the exhibits were also a reminder of just how massive the British Empire was during the first half of the 20th century. New Zealanders entered the WW1 as separate colonial provincial battalions, but in the end earned their Kiwi nickname and crafted a unified national identity.
In the city center, we checked into a hostel right downtown and started exploring. We were a bit burnt out on activities and tours, so we took it easy our two nights in Auckland. We walked the busy shopping street of Queen St. and along the wharf. There were a ton of new developments along the water. Shops, restaurants, and condos, along with some seriously impressive fishing boats and yachts (Life Goals!). The famous landmark in the city is of course the Sky Tower. You can book a “SkyWalk” on the edge of the observation deck or even a “SkyJump” if you missed your daily dose of crazy pills.
We had some good food in the city without killing the budget. Dinner at O’Hagans Irish Pub, drinks at Dr. Rudi’s Rooftop Brewing Co., and a seriously fresh and tasty brunch at Major Sprout. Special shout out to Major Sprout because it’s the only place we saw filtered coffee (how Americans drink coffee) in all New Zealand! And a free refill? Mind blown.
On our final day in New Zealand we took the commuter ferry across the harbor to the village of Devonport. This was a cheap way to get some great views of the Skyline from the water and across the harbor, but we also did some shopping and had the NZ dessert, Pavlova. It was a nice retreat from the busy city.
We woke at 3:30 in the morning for a bus ride to the airport. It was time to say our goodbyes to New Zealand. Most of the tears were bottled-up, but a few may have snuck through. In the words of Ella Fitzgerald, “Every time we say goodbye, I die a little…”
New Zealand is a must do. If you’ve read this far and maybe you still skimmed over that last sentence, let me repeat: New Zealand is a must do! I don’t usually like to admit when Taylor is right, but..um, yea.
Check out our 11-day North Island route below:
Chris & Taylor
Read our travel blog as we visit three continents in 2017.