A Day and a Half in Auckland


We woke up to a bustling Auckland on a sunny yet cold Wednesday morning. Christmas was in a few days.  Downing a cup of instant coffee, I braved opening the sliding door to the balcony and hopped out, as one would under a cold shower. "Brrr.." It was 18 degrees Celsius, unusually cold for a bright summer day.

Morning View from the Balcony
We spent the morning on foot walking from our hotel apartment to the city centre. The Sky Tower pulled us. Christmas was in a few days with shop windows teeming with decorations and holiday sale signs.

Sky Tower
The iconic 328 meter high Sky Tower at SKYCITY is a touristy must do. It is located at the corner of Victoria and Federal Streets. We enjoyed the Main Observation deck tour here ten years ago.

There is a dining revolving restaurant- Orbit 360, The Sugar Club - a luxurious cocktail bar and Sky Cafe with great views of the city.

SkyWalk -  For the not so faint hearted, enjoy the 360 degree panoramic sights  192 meters high up strapped to a harness by walking along the edge of the tower's pergola.

If that doesn't satisfy your adrenaline rush cravings, dare and try the SkyJump.

Lunch at a Kebab Joint
Despite living in the Middle East for more than a decade, the best kebab we have ever had was here in New Zealand. This is due to the tender and tastiest lamb that we remember having and the cheapest take away meal you can ever have in the country.  

We found a NZD 5.00 (Php 180) per kebab sandwich or kebab on rice that comes with a free drink here at Kebabs on Queen along Queen Street.  New Zealand is an extremely expensive country so this meal price is hard to come by.  Here, you can choose different sauces for your kebab.

Stroll around the city
We spent the early afternoon exploring the city center on foot.  Later, we met with old friends from Dubai whom we last met in New Zealand 10 years ago.  They took us to Auckland Domain  for a quick tour of the garden while chatting away with loads of catching up. 

We went to a volcanic peak, Mt. Eden in Eden Park the first time we visited them and to a beach whose name I can't recall.   

With the limited time we had, we decided to spend the late afternoon at the Viaduct Harbour/ Wynyard Quarter instead.

Restaurants and bars all exuded a festive vibe, with locals geared up to start the holidays catching up with friends and colleagues for a last meet up before they leave for their planned Christmas/ Summer Trip(s).

We got to experience the Auckland Rush Hour Traffic (which is nothing compared to Manila by the way) on our way to dinner.

Our first day ended with an excellent Italian gourmet pizza dinner over great conversations at Farina on Ponsonby Road and a quick night drive around the surrounding areas.

Driving and Navigation

As for us, we were still jet lagged. We spent the next day picking up our rental car and planning for our first major drive.    

It was quite tricky driving within Auckland due to one-way streets, strict rules against driving along bus and bike lanes. Don't worry, the traffic signs are well indicated as well as the maximum and recommended speed limit. 

It was difficult to find a parking space during the high season.  However, there are private car parks charged by the hour throughout the city.  

We weren't able to get a GPS in our rental car. So we heavily relied on Google Maps during the entire trip.

We got a Spark SIM Card at the airport with a good data package. Internet is generally fast in NZ. There are Free Spark Wifi Hotspots throughout the city.  This allowed us to download  maps in advance to avoid getting lost, in case we drive through a location with poor signal. 

We  also used the good ol map to find our way along major roads whenever the phone's navigation system was lost :)

If you have another day to spare, catch a ferry and explore the Hauraki Gulf and Islands surrounding Auckland such as Waiheke Island, Rangitoto Island and etc.

Love & light,

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  1. I've been watching your videos, it's nice to see that you guys actually moving when before I could see you and your family in photos haha...

    New Zealand is one of my dream destinations and the primary reason would be the Hobbiton. I am a Lord of the Rings fans and since I've read all books and watched all movies, I have already set my mind that I will visit that place one way or another.

    I'm scared of heights, but after successfully climbing the Umeda Sky in Japan, I think I can do the Sky Tower, but not the Skywalk and definitely not the Sky Jump. I think I would have to think hard first before doing those.

    1. Haha, I tried vlogging but realized I am still shy speaking in public with the camera. I think snippets of us in the film is as daring as we could get but then again we never know. Perhaps after a few beers I might haha. For a LOTR fan, NZ is the place to be. I don't think I will dare try the SkyJump nor the SkyWalk either. :)

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