27 Dec 200 182km // AUCKLAND // NEW ZEALAND
It’s safe to say that we’ve spent more time in Auckland than any other city on our travels. It wasn’t planned – it just happened to work out that way…and a lot can happen in 8 weeks, so I’m going to try summarize our adventure, as best as I can. Here goes!
We spent the first six weeks looking after an amazing German Shepherd named Maddie (we miss you already Maddie <3), while her owner was away on holiday, allowing us the opportunity to live in Western Auckland in the Waitakere Regional Park (a.k.a The Waitak’s, as it’s known by the locals) for free – side note: the home was INCREDIBLE and we honestly felt like we’d struck house-sitter gold – a double-storey, wooden retreat, built on stilts in the middle of a sub-tropical rainforest, surrounded by nothing but lush native greenery (and a few waterfalls just a quick drive away).
We were close to the iconic West Coast beaches of Auckland, allowing us to walk Maddie there many times, dipping toes and paws into the Pacific, and dusting them with black volcanic sand. We also discovered what we think is the most photogenic beach in the world – Piha Beach. Just look at this place!
Once our new friend returned from her trip, and we said a sad goodbye to both her and Maddie, we ventured north to the Whangaparaoa Peninsula to visit friends, and spend another ten days living like Auckland locals – except we swapped the lush greenery and rainy days, for beachside views and constant sunshine, and the fluffy four-year old German Shepherd was replaced by a heart-melting three-year-old girl and the sweetest seven-year-old boy, who our friends from South Africa are now raising here on the Hibiscus Coast. We kayaked and paddle-boarded the Puhoi River, enjoyed sundowners and fishing fueled by takeaway burgers on the beach, visited (almost) all the nearby beaches to have an office with a view, and even paddle-boarded out to see the deceivingly-far-away Kotanui Island.
Our final experience of Auckland was with our friends at Trafalgar Travel, as we boarded our new home-on-wheels, and met the fellow travelers who would be touring both of New Zealand’s islands with us for the next ten days. We drove around Auckland’s CBD, watched some crazies Sky Jump from the Sky Tower (#FunFact the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest manmade structure), and cruised from the main harbour of the “City of Sails” out to Rangitoto to see the iconic cone-shaped dormant volcano.
Auckland – we’ve experienced you as tourists and as locals (practically) and we can see why a third of your country’s people choose to call you home. To Linda, Avis, Leesa, Maddie, Fraser, Alice, Ian, Kate, Tristan, Rachel, Richard, Angela, Holly and Mark – you were the main reason we loved Auckland so much, so thank you for your hospitality and we cannot wait to meet again.