By the time we arrived in Auckland, we were exhausted. We'd driven over 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles!) in just 23 days and our bodies could not take another day of sitting in a car. Understandably, we explored this city, which was our last stop in New Zealand, at a very leisurely pace. We slept in, baked cheese scones, drank our ration of wine that we'd purchased in Picton and just relaxed. In fact, I was contemplating if I should even post about Auckland because we didn't really do the place justice and see much. Still, we had a nice time there and wandered around town – to some extent – that I wanted to share a few pictures with you here.
The whole neighborhood west of the viaduct was completely revamped, just in the time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Though it's still in development, Wynyard Quarter was tons of fun to explore. There's everything you need for a day's fun, from tasty restaurants to large play areas & a fish market with the day's catch on full display.
Ferry to Devonport
After a few hours strolling around Wynyard Quarter, we caught the ferry to Devonport. It's a popular activity for tourists and I can understand why: seeing the Sky Tower from the sea made it well worth it. After the short 10 minute ferry ride, we enjoyed a quick picnic along the harbor - the intrusive & hungry seagulls had us heading into the little suburb of Devonport faster than planned. I didn't take any pictures of Devonport (I blame it on our exhausted states) but we had so much fun walking along the main street, exploring the quirky vintage & artsy shops and sipping a cup of coffee in one of the cute little cafés.
We drove up to Mt. Eden, the highest "natural point" in the city of Auckland, and thoroughly enjoyed the panoramic views of the city. The best part was walking along the 50 meter deep crater at the top of the summit. One day I'd like to come back and actually hike up to the top.
My favorite stop in Auckland was Muriwai Beach, a beach of black volcanic sand. There were only a few people the morning we visited, which made it all the more enjoyable. I'm always surprised to find landscapes like these, peaceful and uncrowded, so close to busy cities like Auckland (the drive there only took us 40 minutes!).
We stayed at Freemans Backpackers, just a short walk from Auckland's downtown. The best part (other than the location) were the huge rooms, which included a sink & refrigerator + single beds for each traveler. At least that was the case in the dorm we stayed in out back. On the downside, the kitchens were tiny and the bathrooms few. Having said that, I did still manage to bake a batch of cheese scones on a quiet afternoon.