Taking a morning flight from Singapore to Auckland, we woke up at 5:15AM in order to get to the airport early. Tired and hungry, we were ready to board the plane and settle in. A challenge was posed to us even before we could check in to our flight. We learned that New Zealand does not allow for tourists to enter the country without a return ticket leaving the country. I had read something related online earlier, but was advised that as long as we show proof that we have enough money to buy a return ticket, that is acceptable. For New Zealand Air, the company requires proof of a return ticket; no exceptions. Frustrated with the slow wifi, we managed to book a last minute flex ticket from Auckland to Hong Kong in January 7 minutes before check in was closed.
Finally made it to Auckland! Landed right before midnight. Figured we could save some money sleeping over the Auckland airport that was highly rated as an airport to spend the night at. Lies – the international terminal was extremely small! We were lucky to find an empty bench to rest on… except the shops in the airport start setting up at 3AM. Took the skybus from the airport to the CBD (central business district) where our hostel is situated. Turns out Auckland has a lot of hills. They are not on a steep incline like San Francisco, but would still be inconvenient for bikers.
Not wasting any time, we went exploring Auckland immediately after we dropped our luggage off. Started the day strong with a breakfast that is surely out of the backpacker’s budget. It did not take long to come to the realization that central Auckland is extremely small. Almost everything was within a 15 minute walking distance from each other. First stop was Albert Park; it was a clean peaceful park located by the University of Auckland campus. Afterwards, we ventured to the waters by the wharf. Going westward away from the CBD, we walked through Victoria Park in Ponsonby. This neighborhood seemed hip and ideal for young adults as there are many restaurants and boutique shops. Afterwards, we went by our hostel to find a supermarket. There is a chain supermarket called Countdown which I later learned is a subsidiary of Australia’s Woolsworth – I knew the logo looked familiar!
Not sure if it is because we are here on a week day, but there were not a lot of people out on the streets. The busiest street was probably Queen Street where most of the chain shops were. That pretty much concluded most of the whereabouts within the immediate central Auckland area.
More on Mount Eden and the nearby islands/towns to come in the next post.