“How did it get so late so soon?” ― Dr. Seuss
Time flies, and somehow quicker whenever I’m in Auckland. I guess you put it down to the variety of things you can do and see in the city of sails. Whether if you chose to sail or hike or just lay on the beach, your afternoons to nights very soon.
Before there is any regret on wishing time better spent, a good weekend schedule to maximise this city is a must!
P.S Between a new job and moving, my time management skill is at its worst. I apologise for the delay of this post.
Friday evening: A drive to Auckland Waterfront and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc by the sunset.
Nothing’s better to start your journey on the North Island than the iconic waterways of Auckland. It isn’t called the City of Sails for nothing. The waterfront is laced with yacht and houseboats and it is magnificent. And restaurateurs have the same idea. Pick your poison over tapas and enjoy your first night away.
Personal pick: Baduzzi on Wynyard Quarter over a glass of local Viognier.
Saturday morning: Off to St Heliers and brunch all morning!
An easy way to leaving the Auckland skyline behind is Tamaki Drive. This will straight shoot you away from the central business district to the relaxing suburb of St Heliers. Mission Bay maybe the more popular seaside ‘burb, but Saint Heliers offers the same cafe scene and coastline without the crowd. Since it’s further up the coast, you get to feast more of the gorgeous coastline on your way to breakfast.
Personal pick: St Heliers Cafe and Bistro and its dairy free smoothie surprise. Yum!
Saturday afternoon: Drive back to Auckland and take the (car-less) ferry to North Shore’s Devonport
Naval base of the Royal New Zealand Navy, Devonport boasts one of the oldest trees in the nation. Its heritage charm isn’t just in the antique stores or retro cinemas, but also in the old bunker up in Mount Victoria (Takarunga). Despite the fact you left the car back in Auckland, the climb up the old volcanic crater of Takarunga is very doable on foot. Even if you’re not interested in an old bunker or the disappearing gun, the view overlooking Waitemata Harbour is so WORTH it!
Saturday night: Forgo the city and explore Auckland Night Market in Pakuranga
My cousins would always bring me out to the night market (at various locations) on the weekend for dinner. It may not be as big as the one in Melbourne, Auckland Night Market still manages to showcase the cultural diversity of the city with various delectable street food. It is always hilarious that they would expect me to compare all things Auckland to Melbourne and be all complain-y. On the contrary, I love all sorts of night markets, be it small or large. As long as it has good food, I am a happy girl.
Sunday morning: Squeezing in any last minute food tour cum sight seeing
One of the majestic landscape features of Auckland are mountains. Not just any type of mountains, but dormant volcanoes! Not far from Auckland CBD, a quick drive up from Grafton Rd (Normandy Rd) will lead you straight to Mount Eden Domain. It is a little hike up to the outlook, but that view of Auckland city is worth all that legwork.
Not far from Mount Eden is the ‘unofficial’ Chinatown of Auckland, Dominion Road. Despite the lack of that great dragon gate in most traditional Chinatowns boast of, you would still recognise the road by the numerous signs in Chinese. Pick and choose whichever restaurant that suits your fancy. The last time I went, I think you can count on finding all eight culinary cuisines of China here in Dominion.
Soon you’ll realise that you’re running late and you are supposed to be on your way to your next stop. It’s best to be on your way because there are a lot more out there in New Zealand to explore. Auckland is just the tip of the iceberg.
Psst.. I soon discovered why time flies so quickly here. It was simply because New Zealand is always three/four whole hour ahead of Melbourne. Even an early dawn flight from Melbourne would end up having me arriving at Auckland on midday. Silly me.
Driving in New Zealand
Driving in New Zealand is surprisingly easy and it is quite affordable. As long as you have a current driver’s licence (of your home country), you can legally drive for the first 12 months without a need of an international driver’s permit.