Auckland

I only stayed in Auckland for 5 nights, but I really enjoyed my time here. Though in all honesty, there are far better places to go in New Zealand.


Auckland

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by noushi on April 3, 2005

Auckland is the gateway to New Zealand for most international travelers, and the largest city in New Zealand. The city has been named by many international survey reports as being one of the top 10 cities in the world to live in. Much of Auckland is built on extinct volcanoes that are now hilly parks and gardens where you can get wonderful 360-degree views of the city. Auckland sits between two large harbours and therefore has the highest number of boats per capita in the world - it is not known as the 'City of Sails' for nothing.

From downtown Auckland, you can take a ferry to one of the many islands like Rangitoto, Waiheke, and the Great Barrier or just a leisurely 10-minute ferry ride across to Devonport across the harbour and visit NZ's WWII defenses at North Head. On the weekend, there are many markets scattered around the city region, from Takapuna on the north shore to South Auckland—lots of good bargains and usually some good food, as well.${QuickSuggestions} The Sky Tower is a great place to start your sightseeing of Auckland. Ride the lift to the top of the tower and get amazing 360-degree views of Auckland and the surrounding areas. This costs NZ$15. For an extra $3, you can go up to an even higher level. Queen Street is the main road—walk right down to the end to the harbour. There are some good restaurants there, some definitely touristy, but the best one we loved was called Wild Fire—you must check that one out. Parnell is a great area for bars and restaurants.

Oh, and when driving, always drive on the left side, and wear seatbelts, since a fine of $25 awaits you if you’re not buckled up.${BestWay} Auckland's public transport system is pretty dismal compared to other cities of its size around the world. Buses are the main form of public transport, but the network and frequency leaves a lot to be desired. However, if you are wanting to see Auckland's sights, it should suffice. Stagecoach is the main bus company in the city and serves the wider metropolitan area. The best bet if you are travelling all day on Stagecoach around the greater metropolitan area is to buy a NZ$8 all-day pass. It even entitles you to a crossing on the Auckland City Centre - Devonport Ferry (great views from Mt Victoria in Devonport). If you are wanting to travel quickly around the inner city area (say, between Victoria Park Market and Parnell), then the Link bus follows a circular route that is extremely handy and cheap. Buses run every ten minutes from any stop on the route and are a fixed NZ$1.20 for however far you go on the route. This is a very good system.


Auckland Central Backpackers (VIP)

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by noushi on April 4, 2005

This is in a perfect location just off Queen Street and has a really helpful and friendly staff. This place is really big, with all the usual facilities, such as laundry and booking desk, and it also has around 30 computers for Internet use, though in all honesty, there are much cheaper and better computers across the road (you cannot access any messenger facilities on these). It has a good chill-out lounge and two TV rooms.

Dorms start at $22, plus a $10 key deposit. We got an ensuite room, and the room was good, with great air-conditioning and even a TV--not bad for NZ$85 a night. The shower was really powerful, the only annoying thing being that you had to keep pressing a button every 10 seconds to keep the water going; otherwise, it would just stop. We found this hostel hard to fault, especially since it was really quiet, considering the location and amount of people staying here. This really was a plus. We finally had a good night's sleep.

They also have a good and busy bar, and when you check in, they give you offers such as a free beer at the busy Globe bar across the road.

Auckland Central Backpackers (VIP)
229 Queen Street At Darby Street
Auckland, New Zealand, 1010
(64) 9-358-4877

Auckland City YHA

Member Rating 1 out of 5 by noushi on April 5, 2005

This is a large, multi-story hostel located towards the end of Queenstreet (the main strip). It's a bit of a walk up the hill on Queen Street coming from the Intercity bus interchange, though.

It has clean rooms and a kitchen. The lounges are pretty relaxed, and there’s a decent sundeck/patio. The staff was cordial enough, but I got the impression that they didn’t exactly love their jobs, but then again, who does? The atmosphere was nothing special; it just felt like a university dormitory. Make sure you have your key if you stay out late; otherwise, you may have the enjoyable task of trying to convince the night security guard that you're staying there (being drunk and obnoxious and banging on the front door doesn’t work).

It’s an okay place to stay if you’re just staying for a day or two. If not, I'd recommend staying at a hostel in one of the suburbs. The Brown Kiwi in Ponsonby is a friendly place, and the Lantana Lodge in Parnell is quite mellow.

We moved after 2 nights of staying at this YHA. I would never have guessed that a side street could be so noisy. Every morning we were woken up by rubbish trucks, cars honking, or people just talking outside. We vowed never to stay here again.

Auckland City YHA
18 Liverpool Street
Auckland, New Zealand, 1010
(09) 309 2802

Wildfire

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by noushi on April 6, 2005

After wandering around the Viaduct Basin, we were attracted to Wildfire by the selection of food and the number of staff available to serve the diners. This is a Brazilian restaurant, and we cannot fault it. We chose the Churrasco (Brazilian BBQ) - all you can eat, complimented with a three-tier salad selection.

Service was impeccable. Staff were polite, friendly, and a joy to have. They received (and deserved) a very generous tip from us. Food? I am writing this the next day, and I still feel full.

The choices were outstanding: small exotic sausages, chicken, pork, pork ribs, king fish, and what has to be the tastiest beef we have had in a long while. These were brought to the table on long skewers and sliced to perfection. There is no ordering or waiting. Just relax and savour the moment while knife-wielding waiters slice sizzling hot skewered meats directly onto your plate in quantities that flow on and on. So remember the traffic light on your table, and turn it red to halt the advancing avalanche of food.

Wildfire has to be Auckland's best-value dining experience, where you pay one set price and the meats just keep coming until you're completely satisfied. For all of this, you get tapas, which comprise things like fried calamari, mushrooms, and feta, ham, and breads.

Then you're served a three-tier selection of fries, salad, rice, and vegetables, plus all the meats, and all this is for NZ$40. Not only this--if you eat before 7pm, you get this nearly half-price, for $28 with all the above included!

Just fabulous. We ate here twice, as the food is so tasty, and the second time we came, we didn't want to get the tapas, so they said we could have our meal for $28, and they gave the tapas to us anyway! Brillant!

Wildfire
Prince's Wharf
Auckland, New Zealand, 1001
+64 (0)9 353 7595

Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by noushi on April 10, 2005

Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World is an amazing visitor experience; I had a great time there. There is an excellent underwater tunnel, where it's almost like being in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by sharks, stingrays, and other kinds of marine life. But what I liked most was the replica of Robert Scott's hut used in his South Pole expedition, which feels very authentic. And I also loved seeing the penguins from the Snow Cat ride: they are such incredible creatures. When I was there, the king penguin colony had a chick who was already as large as the adults but still had a baby's fluffy, brown feathers. It was a very funny sight, like a penguin dressed in a costume.

The sharks swimming all around you behind Perspex as you admire them from the moving walkway was also really fun, especially for children. There are touch tanks in the foyer before you get to the souvenir shop with lobster and other sea creatures in it, plus a kid’s marine room with a mini touch pool, other interesting things for them to do, and fish in small tanks to admire. Before you enter the Snow Cat to see the penguins, you first pass through an exhibition that is a scale model of the Antarctic hut from the Shackleton expeditions, complete with furniture, piano, and the cabin interior, with black-and-white photos on display that were taken on the original expedition. Plus, you can watch video and listen to audio about the expedition, which is rather interesting.

Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic Encounter & Underwater World
23 Tamaki Drive
Auckland, New Zealand, 1005
+64 (0)9 528 0603

Auckland Museum and Domain

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by noushi on April 10, 2005

This museum commemorates New Zealand’s fallen soldiers and serves as a wonderful museum at the same time. It houses one of the most significant collections of Maori and Pacific treasures and artifacts in the world, as well as having well-presented natural history, social, art, children’s, and war memorial collections. Each day there are performances by a group called Manaia, who give an enjoyable show with Maori songs and dances, a generous sprinkling of humour, and some audience participation! Entry to the museum is free, but they do suggest a donation of NZ$5 and entry into certain exhibits, and the Manaia show is extra.

There is a café and a museum store, and the grounds in the domain surrounding the museum are ideal for picnics on sunny days. The museum sits on the rim of one of Auckland’s many extinct volcanoes, although this is not immediately obvious as you look at it. From the museum steps, you get a splendid view over part of the city and out over the harbour to Devonport and Rangitoto.

The museum itself has become an icon of Auckland. The building dates back to the 1920s, when it was planned as a memorial place to the fallen soldiers of World War I. This is a museum in the grand, old sense of the word, yet it exhibits contemporary and interesting displays as well.

For the kids, there is the concession of the discovery centre on the second floor, which was actually quite entertaining for all the adults that were there on the day I visited! It was interesting seeing a fully operational beehive and trying to find the queen. The cockroach display was pretty disgusting, though. On the top floor, you will find the moving "Scars on the Heart" permanent exhibition about New Zealand's military history, as well as the memorial rooms. Make sure you give the museum a full day. You also might want to time your visit to catch the Maori cultural performance at 11am.

Auckland Museum (Tamaki Paenga Hira)
Auckland Domain
Parnell, Auckland, New Zealand

http://www.igougo.com/journal-j41587-Auckland-Auckland.html

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