[WARNING: PICTURE HEAVY]
Here’s the first installment of my long overdue travel post! I’ve been traveling every weekend since I got back from this trip so now I finally have the time to write.
For this trip we spent 1 day in Auckland, New Zealand, 8 nights in Nadi, Fiji, and 4 nights in Sydney, Australia. For more info on how I paid for this using miles and points and a minimal amount of out-of-pocket cash, see this and this post. For an intro to miles and points, go here.
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND
I found out a week or two before the trip that United (yet AGAIN) screwed up our itinerary without notifying us and our short layover in Auckland, New Zealand turned into a much longer stopover because no flights would be coming out until the following day. But we took it as a sign to visit New Zealand for the first time and I quickly booked one night at the Scenic Hotel Auckland in the downtown area for under $100.
Since we were only there for a night I didn’t want to splurge on anything fancy. The hotel met our needs well and the Queen Street location was great! It came with a very comfy bed, some very nice New Zealand-made toiletries and a little kitchenette.
Our modest hotel view.. since we were towards the back of the building:
Luckily we were blessed with clear skies and beautiful weather for the day that we were there.
Justin and I like to share a cup of coffee in the mornings to perk up so we went to a nearby Gloria’s Coffee to buy a large “flat white.” One of Justin’s friends recommended that we get one since it is a coffee drink that is local to NZ and Australia. After this trip I find myself craving a flat white.. I love the foam! 😦 The coffee in NZ and Australia honestly puts US coffee houses to shame. Speaking of interesting coffee names…Our Auckland tour guide was laughing about trying to order a “long black” coffee in the states. (The drink is similar to an Americano.)
As you can see the large is quite small in comparison to USA coffeehouse sizes!
The Auckland Sky Tower was on many must-see travel articles but unfortunately we didn’t have the time to check it out… you can see it here on the left:
I don’t know about you but I like checking out the menu items for big chain restaurants in different countries… At the time we were there, Auckland had a McSpicy sandwich!
While walking around downtown I got this feeling that I was in Japan… the streets were very clean. They also have Daiso!! :O
Let’s see.. $3.50 NZD is equivalent to $2.80 USD. And our normal Daiso price is $1.50. Pretty pricey!
There seems to be a lot of ethnic food choices in Australia & New Zealand. Sushi restaurants, noodle houses, kabobs, Thai food, Chinese food, Mexican food… we were having a hard time picking things out to eat because the selection is pretty big!
Sorry about all the boring storefront pics… it was early in the morning and none of the stores were open and we had some time to walk around before our tour guide arrived!
…and it’s just too bad because there were a lot of cute stores. The exchange rate is pretty bad for the USA….I guess in the end it was a good thing that I didn’t shop there.
They had the Japanese brand EGOIST in this particular shopping area!
…and Cotton On!
Too bad we don’t have Cotton On Body in the USA (I think….are there any locations in the USA??)
Whitecoulls has a big bookstore location downtown
To kill some time we walked towards the University of Auckland with our coffee in hand.
Australia & New Zealand are having their winter season right now so the majority of clothing stores had their winter wear on display. Our Auckland tour guide was originally from Germany and he told us that he still wasn’t used to Christmas in the summertime!
There were quite a few surf shops though and a lot of the brands that we have in the states were there in NZ (Quiksilver, Roxy, Rip Curl, etc.). I had never seen the swimwear brand Seafolly before this though.
With the morning rush came a lot of workers on foot!
I was excited to check out the beauty products in NZ but a lot of them were the same brands we have here. They did have Max Factor and Bourjois though. Again… prices were very high after currency conversion.
At a skater/surf clothing shop in an indoor mall by the harbor:
Women’s fashion seemed very familiar but for the men’s clothing we felt that the style was more trendy (and more like Asian or Euro style). Pegged jeans were in style for both men and women.. and these men’s T shirts had the high-low hem going on:
We also took a peek at a discount store in the same building. Again, I felt like I was in Japan…Japanese stores have a similar feel.
Random thoughts: I’m also still not used to the metric system. I really wish that the US had gotten on board with that… it makes things much easier. Conversions from mph to kph & pounds to kgs wasn’t easy to say the least 🙂
How about being a good friend & buying some shotz for your laundry!
The food court had a McD’s… and they had a CHORIZO burger!
..and fancy hot dogs!
Another interesting thing to note… the drinking age in NZ and Australia is 18.
We stopped by a Dunkin Donuts for a quick bite to eat before our tour started:
On the way to our pickup location I marveled at some of the retail shop sizes.. look how tiny they are!! No other exit besides the front door and you get a little sink in the back.
We booked a 1/2 day tour using Milestone Tours and arranged an airport drop-off via email so we didn’t have to worry about finding our way back.
For such a limited time in Auckland we had a great time during this 1/2 day tour and I highly recommend this company.
I had to take a picture of the inside of the car… it’s so strange seeing the driver’s side flipped over to the right!
It’s too bad we didn’t have time to go into this store:
Our first stop: Mt. Eden and its giant crater
Gorgeous view of the Auckland city skyline:
Justin & our tour guide, Ewald:
Next stop: Cornwall Park
Cornwall Park is very big… I wish we had a park of this size where we live… Buddy would love it. Volcanic stone is used throughout the park:
You can drive your car up to these giant stone grills and have a BBQ!
Can you spot the cutie?
I asked about the Kiwi bird and Ewald said that they are nocturnal and that he’s never seen one in the wild. There are TONS of sheep walking around though.
One Tree Hill Domain: the obelisk is a memorial to the Māori
Next stop: Views of Mission Bay & the prestigious homes on Paritai Drive
Paritai Drive is a long stretch of millionaire homes that overlook the bay.
I loved the succulents growing along the lava rock in front of this home:
We drove back down to Mission Bay for lunch on the beach.
Across from the beach you can see Rangitoto Island (a dormant volcano island)
Ewald recommended the Fish Pot Cafe for fish and chips 😀
This petrol station sells gas for $2.059 NZD per liter…That’s $1.64 US Dollars per liter which is $6.21 USD per gallon. Did I do that math correctly? That is.. EXPENSIVE!!!
A fallen tree that is still growing:
Back to the city… and then it’s off to Fiji.
Auckland is known as the City of Sails.
While in NZ we thought that the accent was the same as the Australian accent… but the Australians we met in Fiji and Sydney laughed and said that they sounded COMPLETELY different. Another thing to note… instead of pronouncing the letter Z as “zee,” as we do in the USA, the people of New Zealand & Australia (and apparently Canadians & the British) say, “ZED.” Huh. I never knew.
NZ X Factor:
I am forever fascinated by foreign candies & snacks.
Bye New Zealand! We were there for only a short time but we’d love to visit again 🙂
[Go here to see part 2!]