Kia Ora – The New Zealand Adventure Begins

As much as I’m a beach gal and a barefooted country bumpkin at heart, I can’t help but feel right at home in the middle of a big city. Auckland was a beautiful fit for me, and the perfect transition between Fijian beach and Kiwi camping.

Auckland’s Sky Tower (more about that later!)

About 1/3 of Kiwis live in the Auckland metropolitan area, though after living in NYC for four years, it certainly felt wide open and not at all cramped.

Auckland City Hotel – budget friendly and great for longer-term visits

For most of my time in the beautiful City of Sails, I stayed at the Auckland City Hotel on Hobson Street. I couldn’t have picked a better location if I did it on purpose, as I was surrounded by everything I needed. The bus station to Thames was a block away, as was the brilliant SkyTower, the touristy but useful Queen Street (with its free WiFi McDonald’s) and the church I attended on Sunday with friend-of-a-friend Carmi.

My suite at Auckland City Hotel had a mini-kitchen, great shower, super cozy bed and a TV with an interesting selection of old US TV shows, like Charles in Charge and Fresh Prince. (Seriously, the Carlton never gets old.) Anyhow, right down the hall – and just in time – were laundry facilities, so I was able to wash my clothes for real instead of attempting to do it in the sink. There are quite a few renovations underway from what I could tell, as the gym wasn’t usable during my stay unfortunately. There’s also a spa onsite, though I didn’t have the chance to experience its services. Next time… I’m sure I’ll be back!

I was tempted to hop in the fountain to cool off, but I wasn’t quite as confident as these guys!

The weather was stunning for my entire stay – the perfect mix of hot sun and cool, southerly breeze – so I just had to spend some time outside. I asked the concierge for recommendations for a nearby park and a few minutes later, I was in Albert Park, which sits atop sealed off air raid shelters from World War II. Now it’s a grassy slope with heaps of flower gardens and fountains… the ideal spot to enjoy a respite (and a nap) from city life in the middle of Auckland.

Up next … How I Ended Up At Puke Road

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