And just like that we’re on to our last New Zealand post. It’s been six weeks since I returned from my trip and I’ve actually loved writing these travel posts. The best thing about having this blog is that it acts as an online diary, and writing all about our trip has been such a brilliant way to relive those moments. It will also be so lovely to read back on in years to come.
I thought I’d do a joint post on Auckland and Wellington. These are the two biggest cities in the North Island, with Wellington as the capital, and I have to say I loved them both. While they had their own quirks and personalities, they were quite similar in that they were both vibrant, packed with things to do and with beautiful views of the ocean.
Auckland was the first place I experienced in New Zealand and I loved it. People tend to prefer the more edgy Wellington, but I have to admit that Auckland was my favourite city that we visited in the three weeks we were there. I loved the high rise buildings, the flashy harbour with its rooftop bars and outside eateries, and its cosmopolitan feel.
There are some awesome places to eat (Elliot Stables was our favourite) and drink, lots of great shops if you fancy spending some NZ dollar, and it’s a fantastic base for exploring more of the North Island. You can also get a variety of boat trips from the Harbour to neighbouring Waiheke Island and its abundance of golden beaches and vineyards amongst other island paradises, which looked amazing but that was sadly something we didn’t have time for.
Our favourite activity in Auckland, however, had to be visiting the SkyTower. It is an icon of the Auckland skyline and has stood proudly at 220 metres over the city for 20 years. What’s more, for just NZ$32 you can whizz up to the SkyDeck to take in the panoramic views of the city and beyond, and you can even upgrade the ticket for an extra NZ$4 which allows you to head back up to the SkyTower at sunset — and that’s just what we did.
The views were absolutely incredible, even more so as the sun set over the city making the sky and sea glitter with different hues of pink and purple. You can see for approximately 80 kilometres and going there on my first full day in the city was simply perfect. It showed me instantly just how amazing NZ is as a country, with its incredible rolling hills, beautiful islands and turquoise waters, and after moaning at Shane for the past four months about going over there to live for a year, I finally understood why he’d wanted to so much.
We spent three nights in Auckland in total, both at the start and at the end of my trip, and it is definitely a very special city to me. My flight to Auckland was the first I’d ever taken by myself, which may not seem like a big deal to some, but to me it was huge. It signified change and a new chapter and getting to see Shane at the end of the flight was even better! It felt fitting to end our road trip there too, and to walk around the harbour and reminisce in the sunshine was one of my favourite things.
Wellington is the place that Shane is calling home for his time in New Zealand, so I was really excited to see where he was living and to get a little taster of his year abroad. It was also the halfway point of our trip, which meant two whole nights of hot showers, home cooked food and a proper bed. It’s safe to say it was absolute bliss after ten nights of campsites and camper vanning (well aware that ten days isn’t even that long, but still).
We caught the ferry to Wellington from Picton on the South Island, and arrived to a very windy evening in this bustling city. One thing is for certain, you cannot talk about Wellington and not mention how windy it is. Living in Wales, you think I’d be accustomed to windy weather, but this is seriously something else! There’s absolutely no point in doing your hair, and god forbid you wear a floaty skirt. But apart from the wind there is nothing in Wellington that’s not to like.
I’d describe it as a lot more “edgy” than Auckland. It’s bright and colourful, particularly on Cuba Street with its iconic Bucket Fountain, where you can find second hand book stores and hipster coffee shops. It has lots of amazing places to eat and drink at Courtenay Place, which is the entertainment area of the capital and the place to go for a night out. You also have the beautiful Oriental Bay, which is a suburb district close to the Central Business District and on the slope of Mount Victoria, which has gorgeous San Francisco-esque houses and striking views of Wellington Harbour.
One thing you must do in Wellington is catch the cable car. It’s a five minute trip which takes you from the hustle and bustle of central Wellington and up into the hills surrounding the city. It boasts beautiful views and situated at the top is a Cable Car Museum showcasing the city’s history, and also an Observatory and Botanic Gardens.
We also visited the Te Papa Musuem, which is possibly my favourite museum that I’ve ever been to. New Zealand has such a magical history and Te Papa illustrates this beautifully with interactive features and wonderful displays. I also love that its Māori name, ‘Te Papa Tongarewa’, translates literally to ‘container of treasures’ — and it certainly is that! One of the most striking exhibitions though, has to be the “Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War”.
Te Papa joined forces with Weta Workshop, the world-leading design and effects company behind major films such as LOTR, and brings to life the stories of eight New Zealanders, through incredible 2.5 x the size life figures. They took 24,000 hours to build and are seriously incredible. It was really interesting, albeit heartbreaking, to read about the war from a different perspective. I guess as a Brit I’ve learned a lot about how our country was involved in the war, and the models and figures really brought the museum to life. A must-visit if you’re in the city for sure and what’s more, it’s free!
So that’s that — our whirlwind trip which saw us travelling the length of the country in a bright green and purple camper van over three weeks. For me, it was honestly the trip of a lifetime and I will always be so grateful it. I feel so lucky that I was able to visit and to experience it all. New Zealand gave me a better perspective, it made me understand more about travel and made me want to do more of it myself.
It showed me that there is so much in this world that I want to do and see, and that it’s good to be spontaneous every once in a while. It made me realise that life is too short to worry about work and jobs constantly, and that it’s good to just get out into the open air and breathe. And getting to experience it all with my favourite person was just the icing on the cake.
Be sure to check out my previous posts about Tongariro, Kaikoura, Wanaka and Tekapo, Milford Sound and Queenstown, and if you’re planning your own NZ adventure then be sure to send me a message on Instagram for any advice!
Lots of love. xoxo