I arrived from Buenos Aires to Auckland at 5.30am, on a 13 hour over night flight with air New Zealand, which was actually pretty pleasant. I was back in New Zealand, a place I fell in love with 8 years ago and always wanted to come back. I think I was a bit in shock, it didn’t feel real.
My hostel didn’t open its doors until 8am so I hung out at the airport for a bit, at arrivals, watching as everyone greeted their loved ones. I actually think arrivals is one of my favourite places, anywhere in the world.
I grabbed the skybus into the city and met a Dutch girl on the bus staying at the same hostel. She’d had a far worse journey than me and had been travelling for 30 hours.
After showering, sorting myself out and trying to feel human again I met Ani and her boyfriend Chris. I went to school with Ani and I’ve known her since I was 11. In the 4 weeks I got to spend time with her in Auckland it’s amazing how even though she’s been out here for years and we haven’t hung out properly for a good 5 years, nothing has changed. True friendship. They turned up at my hostel with a NZ care package, a box full of kiwi goodies, mostly chocolate and some of the essentials – face-wipes and paracetamol. Such a thoughtful gift and so nice to see them both.
That afternoon we toured Ponsonby road bars mainly. It’s a good area of Auckland and really fun, would definitely recommend. I stayed in 3 parts of Auckland in my month here, K road, Ponsonby and Queen st. I’d go for Ponsonby, especially if you want to sleep!
Ponsonby road is full of boutique shops, little bars, nice food and craft beer everywhere haha. We did a little bar crawl of the area and I settled in nicely to being back on the other side of the world. Turns out Chris and Ani are people after my own heart, in the time I spent with them we must have eaten pounds and pounds of cheese and it was epic.
Day 2 in Auckland and it was time to get out of the city and hit wine country – Waiheke. The Dutch girl i’d met on the bus, a German guy called Philip and I caught the ferry across to Waiheke island. It’s very easy to get to the ferry, if you don’t walk the wrong way and all think each other knows where you are going 😂! You can buy tickets that include the hop on hop off bus on the island which we did. Allowing us to get off at any of the beaches and the wineries. And that we did… first stop beach
Second stop – winery! Yum
I felt very civilised and soon realised that NZ was going to cost me a fortune in comparison to Latin America.
Waiheke is beautiful and only half an hour out of the city, it’s definitely worth exploring and getting there as early in the day as possible. Most winery’s closed at 4.
By the end of the day we were all exhausted. Jet lag set in and I spent a couple of chilled days exploring the city and a much slower pace than I had in South America. I hung out with Ani and Chris’s friends, had a fun night in the city and ventured up mount Eden to see the views….. oh and um, I may have got a tattoo 🙈 A tattoo I have wanted for 12 years and never got round to and I love it!
Auckland is a fun city but I really wanted to get out and explore the north island more. Last time I was here I only went to the north island for a week, and spent 6 weeks down south.
After I’d been in Auckland for a while Ani and I ventured on a road trip down to Lake Taupo. It was glorious weather, uncommon for this time of year I kept being told, which made for a lovely drive. Music blaring, with a few podcasts here and there (listen to the guilty feminist, it’s really good) we made it down to Taupo. I love the lakes in NZ as they are surrounded by the most beautiful mountains
We walked along the lake at dusk watching the sun go down and it was so peaceful. One thing you notice when in NZ is the quiet. It’s like nowhere else. Everything is very still ( if it’s not howling with wind) and relaxing. Think that’s part of why I love it here, such a wonderful way of life!
The next morning we ventured to the hot springs, because at least once in your journey around NZ you have to go to one of the many thermal springs. It was 27 degrees so I have to say it’s not quite the same as last time I was here. Desperate to get into the springs to warm up haha. Lovely nevertheless and nice to spend a morning chilling in the sun before heading to destination two – Mount Maunganui!
We stayed in a great little air bnb by the beach, a little way from town or so we thought. Ani thought it would be about half an hour walk along the beach into town to grab some dinner but turned out to actually be an hour and a half… good job is was absolutely stunning otherwise I think we’d have both given up.
The beach goes on forever and ever! And as the sun was setting the clouds were a glorious pink colour and the sea calmed. Beautiful walk back, at much faster pace this time as we knew how far we had to get back plus needed to walk off our fish and chips!!!!
We spent the next morning on the beach, with absolutely nobody around for miles!! Then wandered into town. On my way in I passed a guy I thought looked familiar and then I didn’t think about it. As we were leaving Mount Maunganui a couple of hours later I was scrolling through Instagram when I saw a photo of the beach posted by a Kiwi girl I’d met on the Colombian/Ecuadorian border with her boyfriend. It turns out I recognised that guy because I knew him, and that they came from this town. I knew they were back in NZ but didn’t occur to me I’d see them. Sadly we were heading off so I didn’t get a chance to catch up but what are the chances!!!!
Day three of our road trip and headed to Hamilton, this time with me driving some of the way. That is until I drove on the wrong side of the road haha. Ironic really as in NZ they drive on the same side as at home. I don’t know what I was thinking, luckily we were fine but not sure Ani trusted me with her beloved car after that 🙈
We stayed in a home share in Hamilton, with a Chinese family. I’ve never done that before but I’d do it again. The plan was to head over to Raglan on our last day but unfortunately Ani came down with a migraine so we headed straight back up to Auckland.
I had a wonderful road trip with Ani, and it was completed by listening to some fantastic 90s classics on the way home!
Next stop the South Island.