Written by Uncle Travelling Matt on 15 May, 2003
Auckland scared me the first time I went there. I arrived late one night in June, paid the required $14 to take the Air Bus from the airport into the city and, once I had dropped my stuff off at the hostel I had booked…Read More
Auckland scared me the first time I went there. I arrived late one night in June, paid the required $14 to take the Air Bus from the airport into the city and, once I had dropped my stuff off at the hostel I had booked into, went for a walk along Queen Street - Auckland city's main thoroughfare. It was terrifying, like something out of Blade Runner: lights flashed all around me, the streets were crowded, noisy and crammed full of cars, all honking their horns and revving their engines. To someone like myself, freshly arrived from a quiet, little town on the other side of the world, it was an eerie sight that made my head spin and my body tremble. Remember this if you ever go there: Auckland is most definitely a city you have to prepare yourself for in advance.
I won't beat about the bush - Auckland is an ugly city. It is dull, grey, noisy, crowded and built on over 50 volcanoes. You can't walk 50 metres without coming to another hill.
I have to admit though, in the cold light of the following morning things seemed better. Sure, the streets were still crowded and noisy, but the place took on a more realistic feel without the neon glow that had so bathed the city on my arrival.
There are plenty of things to see and do in the city, as well - the Museum in Parnell for example, is one of the best I have visited, and the Sky Tower is a must on a pretty day for those on a crusade for the perfect view.
But it is the surrounding areas, just outside the city, that make Auckland so charming. Take a short ferry ride across the bay and a wealth of prettier places open up for you, from the island getaway of Waiheke, to the volcanic summit of Rangitoto, to the beaches and bays of the North Shore.
Auckland is most definately a city you have to give a second chance. It grows on you, like a vine creeping its way around you, pulling you closer, hugging you to it, until you can't remember why you couldn't see it's charm right from the start.
Basic information is as follows:
Getting to/ from the airport:
There are several ways of getting to the city from the airport: The Air Bus costs $14 one way or $25 return, and will pick you up outside the entrance to both the domestic and international arrivals buildings at Auckland airport, and drop you off at several selected stops in and around the city.
For a more personal ride, there are several shuttles - such as Super Shuttle - operating, which will deliver you right to the door of wherever you are staying. These are obviously more expensive, costing $18 one way.
A cab will cost around $40 from the airport to the city (approximately one hour away).
Getting around the city:
The Link bus service runs in a loop through the city and its nearer suburbs, in both a clockwise and anticlockwise direction. It runs every 15 mins, services most of the places you would want to visit on a stay, and costs $1.50 per loop.
Other bus services also run frequently, and run to the more out-lying attractions. Fares generally cost between $1.50 and $2.70 one way. There are no terminals, as such, but most of the buses leave from opposite the Imax Cinema complex on Queen Street (near Aotea Square), or from Customs Street (near QE2 Square). Timetables and route maps are available free from all Star Mart convenience stores, and from tourist information offices.
Written by KiwiMike on 29 Oct, 2000
It may seem odd given the kiwis reputation for friendliness, but many travelers to New Zealand find it difficult to get to know the natives. Although everyone will be happy to point you in the right direction when you're lost, and you are almost…Read More
It may seem odd given the kiwis reputation for friendliness, but many travelers to New Zealand find it difficult to get to know the natives. Although everyone will be happy to point you in the right direction when you're lost, and you are almost garaunteed good service wherever you go, the kiwis don't tend to out of their way to socialize with foriegn visitors.
I once overheard a guy on the bus complain that he had been in NZ for 3 weeks and still hadn't talked to a single kiwi. And the truth is: if you stay in a hostel or hotel, travel by rail or coach and eat in restaurants, you will probably not meet any kiwis.
Some might imagine that the best place to meet kiwis is in the pub. Not quite.
The best place is on the sportsfield. If you can join in on a friendly game of touch-rugby (don't worry if you're no good) and then ask them where the best pub nearby is... then you're away. You will have friends for the night just like that.
Cultural events, outdoor film showings and the like are all great places to mix with the locals, and of course the rugby matches.
Written by nmagann on 16 Oct, 2000
I rode on a coach overnight to Wellington just for this one and main reason for my visit to New Zealand.
The Fly-by-Wire jet is a one man teathered jet that goes up to speeds of 135 km. It is only a ten minute…Read More
I rode on a coach overnight to Wellington just for this one and main reason for my visit to New Zealand.
The Fly-by-Wire jet is a one man teathered jet that goes up to speeds of 135 km. It is only a ten minute ride, but I knew it was the only one in the world. They give you a cool red jumpsuit to wear and a hockey helmet. I was told the hockey helmet was basically for looks it wouldn't do anything were I to crash. I love their humor.
It is such a silly ride in that it is an open jet that you lay down in. Sort of like a motorized toboggin. A hoist lifts you about 20 feet off the ground then you are pulled up against a mountain side where, when you are ready, you release the line that pulled you up. The other line is still connected. You are in essence like the ball part of the old game tetherball. When you are looking down to the ground suspended briefly before you unlatch the hook, you wonder if it actually could be your time. The roar of the engine is somewhat load and sharp turns are a bit of an effort, but what a ride.
Cost for this ten minute ride in Paekakariki was $44.
The tour was called Blackwater Rafting in the town of Waitomo. It wasn't a raft, but individual inner tubes in an ice cold river underground filled with fresh water eel. What I didn't know ahead of time wound up being a pleasant surprise.…Read More
The tour was called Blackwater Rafting in the town of Waitomo. It wasn't a raft, but individual inner tubes in an ice cold river underground filled with fresh water eel. What I didn't know ahead of time wound up being a pleasant surprise.
We had to rappel 30 meters straight down a tunnel, then go across a zip line in the dark for about 50 feet. They were kind enough to turn out the light as each of took our turn at the zip line. When asked how we would know when we reached the other side, we were told, "the wall".
From here we had to jump into the water about 10 feet below in pitch dark, except for the glowworms on the wall, while holding the inner tube against our rumps. My concern about the eels which with the aide of someone's headlight I could see, made me the last one to jump in. We "rafted only for about half an hour, then it was getting back up and onto dry land which was accomplished via climbing a couple of narrow waterfalls.
The cost for all day including equipment and meals was $70.
The coldwater diving at Poor Knights Islands off the coast of Whangarei was incredible. We saw brightly colored jewel anemones, plenty of string ray, nudibrachs and more. We swam through arches and into coves. The cost was $88 per day including gear.…Read More
The coldwater diving at Poor Knights Islands off the coast of Whangarei was incredible. We saw brightly colored jewel anemones, plenty of string ray, nudibrachs and more. We swam through arches and into coves. The cost was $88 per day including gear. The staff was very informative and had a great sense of humor.
We were told not to pee in our wetsuits as it was stinky, and the culprit invariable leaves a trail. Should anyone pee in his or her wetsuit, "swampy" would be written across their forehead in indelible ink.
After the first dive of the day, my buddy shot out of the water, hoped on the boat, quickly shucked her gear, ran by me muttering something about no swampy for me. Close
Written by nmagann on 13 Dec, 2000
The horse treks here are not to missed either. Speed and time is geared to your desire at $20 per hour. I was quite experienced and the couple on the ride wasn't. As a matter of fact, it was the man's first…Read More
The horse treks here are not to missed either. Speed and time is geared to your desire at $20 per hour. I was quite experienced and the couple on the ride wasn't. As a matter of fact, it was the man's first time. We all kept telling him to kick the horse to make it go, but he would barely tap the horse. When I discovered his horse really, really didn't like mine, I would race around to his side. His horse would leap and try to bite mine, but never got close enough. It got his horse moving though. Being the experienced rider, the guide would let me race by and even hearded the cattle away from a gate we would be going through. The couple were going to another tour and feared being late so they hopped off their horses and the guide and I ponied there's back to the stable. First time I've ever had a ride geared that much to my level. Close
Written by superpurd on 16 Dec, 2001
Our first day spent in the Northland was spent driving from Auckland to Pahia and stopping at the numerous sites along the way. The direct route could get you there in about three hours, but there is no fun in that and you would…Read More
Our first day spent in the Northland was spent driving from Auckland to Pahia and stopping at the numerous sites along the way. The direct route could get you there in about three hours, but there is no fun in that and you would miss out on many interesting sites.
We left Auckland in our rental car about 8:00 AM and drove north for about an hour to Warkworth, a nice little town where we stopped for a light breakfast and wandered the streets for about a half hour. A river runs through the town and there is a public walkway along the river. Seemed like a very friendly little town.
We carried on the main highway until you turn off on Highway 12 to the Matakohe museum. The museum deals with Kauri trees and products and several other items of interest. We have a separate journal on the museum. This is well worth an hour or two of your time, possibly including lunch.
From the museum we carried on to Dargaville, which is about another hour's drive. We had lunch in Dargaville at a place called The Steak House. Both had fish and chips and salad bar. The restaurant had a dining area and a takeout area. We had no complaints about food or service but didn't think it was worthy of writing a journal about it.
From Dargaville you drive north for another hour through narrow and windy roads to the Kauri forest. Kauri trees are native to New Zealand and make great furniture and other wood products. Unfortunately they were almost wiped out and are now protected. There are two stops you can make in the forest. We stopped to see Tane Mahuta, the grandfather of all Kauri trees, about 12 feet wide. You park at the side of the road and walk along a path for about 5 minutes. When you turn a corner it is in front of you in all its majesty. There are two viewing areas. When you get to the second area, two Maori girls are playing guitars and singing, looking for donations of which we made a small one. There is a second stop involving about a twenty minute walk into the forest where you can view several other Kauri trees.
From here we drove directly to Pahia, about another hour and 1/2 away.
Once you have turned off the main highway to go to Matahoke, you can only expect to travel about 70 kilometres per hour as the roads are narrow and windy. Traffic however, was fairly light for our trip.
We arrived in Pahia about 5:00 PM and checked into the Pahia Pacific Resort for the next three nights.
If it is your first day of driving on the left side of the road combined with the narrow and shoulderless roads, you may find this a very full day. If you have lots of time you may wish to make this a two day trip. We found that if you book ahead there are private eco tours available at Matakohe and there were several B & B's in the area.
Written by BenHur on 15 Sep, 2004
To expand, we had a long weekend in Auckland. As our 5-year-old son loves all animal life, we thought we'd treat him to Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World. Also, with two small children in tow, we thought a rental car was needed. So we arranged both…Read More
To expand, we had a long weekend in Auckland. As our 5-year-old son loves all animal life, we thought we'd treat him to Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World. Also, with two small children in tow, we thought a rental car was needed. So we arranged both using RCI Points. The consultant was very good and very pleasant, but he told me there would be a $NZ56 transaction fee. I asked if that was all and he said yes, but that was for the rental car alone. When our credit card bill came there was $NZ56 for the car and $NZ34 for Kelly Tarlton's. Naturally, I felt a bit resentful that even when I had tried to clarify the transaction fee, he'd only given me half the story. I rang to voice my disapproval and got voicemail. No one ever returned my call. More poor service. So the initial good service was dissipated by follow-up poor service. If you take your RCI Points Value for your resort, you can figure out a monetary equivalent. We worked out that if we had bought the tickets for Kelly Tarlton at the door, it was cheaper than doing it through RCI Points if you add the transaction fee. So where is the incentive to use the scheme for allied products? Close
Written by Janeight on 21 Oct, 2002
Great Barrier Island is situated in the outer Hauraki Gulf, and enjoys a wonderful climate in spring through to autumn, although the winter leaves the Island very windswept. The Island is the largest offshore island of the North Island, and is named so because…Read More
Great Barrier Island is situated in the outer Hauraki Gulf, and enjoys a wonderful climate in spring through to autumn, although the winter leaves the Island very windswept. The Island is the largest offshore island of the North Island, and is named so because it gives protection to the Gulf.
It is also home to a huge amount of wildlife, including rare species of plant, animal and bird, such as the tui, brown teal duck, wood pigeon, and the occassional wild pig!
The history of the Island is varied and interesting. The majority of the history involves logging and mining - in 1892, gold was found at Te Ahumata, and the gold rush started. A stamping battery was built especially for this, the former site of which can be visited today, as can some of the entrances to the mines.
Then, in 1909, kauri logging started, and was used to build many of the properties in the Auckland area. To save time, the kauri were logged at the top of the hills, and then dams were built in the river, the logs piled up in the dam, and then the gates released so that the logs floated downstream and to the harbour, ready for transportation to Auckland.
Miners Head, at the north of the Island, was the scene of New Zealands' worst maritime disaster to date, when S.S. Wairarapa hit the cliff face and killed 121 people. The graveyard marks the spot, and can be walked to from the main road.
Another unique attraction is Pigeon Grams! In 1898, Aucklands' first Pigeon Gram was sent from Great Barrier Island, as an early form of airmail. If you go to Port Fitzroy today, you can send a letter by Pigeon Gram from the Island office, to the Auckland office, and it is then forwarded by modern airmail to any international destination (and you get a special Pigeon Gram stamp!).
All in all, Great Barrier Island has so much to offer, and the ever so friendly locals make the Island even better and welcoming.
Written by Avid Traveler on 09 Jan, 2003
Nicknamed the "City of Sails," Auckland is well known by the hundreds of yachts and boats one can see bobbing around the harbor of Hauraki Gulf. Housing over one million locals, quite naturally Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city and has a wide array of…Read More
Nicknamed the "City of Sails," Auckland is well known by the hundreds of yachts and boats one can see bobbing around the harbor of Hauraki Gulf. Housing over one million locals, quite naturally Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city and has a wide array of activities and events guaranteed to satisfy even the pickiest of travelers. Besides being the host of the 2002 World Cup, one can find some of the country’s best zoos, parks, art galleries, museums, casinos, and nightlife. However, if you are looking to get away from the big city, you won't have to travel far to find a secluded black- or gold-sand beach to relax on and breath in the fresh kiwi air. Close