South Pacific Series - #8 Auckland, NZ

Dec 31 (Sat) Auckland, NZ

I tried to get up early, I really tried.

I woke up to the room boiling hot with the sun shining through ceiling to ground windows. It was almost 10am already when I stumbled downstairs to the front desk. I fired a series of questions at the lady and she answered them all with patience. I wanted to know if busses and ferries operated, will museums and restaurants be opened, if not where the supermarket is, and how to check out on the last day etc.

So, good news, the Explorer Hop-on Hop-off bus and the ferries to Waiheke island are operating both New Years Even and New Years Day. Great job Auckland for being so tourist friendly. I head down to the Sky City Explorer bus stop, and got my ticket for the day, $45 kiwi dollars! Not bad for the amount of stops they offer. Sat beside me was a German couple around their late 50s I think? I took a few minutes to convince myself I can test my German and speak to them. Germans are also not known for small talk in public, especially not like that of while at American supermarkets. Good thing is, the lady was super nice. We had a short chat, and I learned that they are from Bremen, northern Germany. It’s 0C there so they flew to Auckland to escape the cold. Her husband had been here back in 2008, but this was her first time. I’m glad at least my German is getting me somewhere and I could understand most of the small talk. She also said that she hasn’t run into much Asians speaking German and if I get any chances to practice where I lived. I laughed and responded in agreement. I think Asians romanticize about France so most would learn French if they knew any European languages. I prefer how German sounds in fact, and that the culture is something I want to learn about. Plus many classical music composers are German or spoke German, so learning it was useful for my other interests. (Sorry, the short talk became a bit long)

On the bus, I first went to stop 1 on the red line which is a hilltop overlooking Auckland CBD over the harbor. There was a small memorial at the hill top with a beautiful Garden leading up to it. Since busses come every 30 minutes, I decided to walk down to stop 2, which is the aquarium. But I wasn’t there for the aquarium, the view there of Sky Tower was even better – with lots of yachts sailing on the harbor. It’s not called the city of sails for no reason. The amount of boat ownership here felt like the amount of cabs you see in HK, or the amount of smartphone ownership in HK.

Back on the bus, I stayed until the Auckland Museum. On the way we passed by a rose garden and a beautiful church with 3 pointy roofs. The museum was impressive, but I have no time to go in. I exchanged to a blue bus there and went to Mt. Eden. This is another really great look out of the CBD area. It was really sunny and the short hike down was lovely. It didn’t take as long as I thought, maybe just about 15-20mins. I went back to the previous stop on the blue line which is Eden Gardens. It has countless species of all sorts of flowers, and even orange Japanese maples. I was so mesmerized that I didn’t even notice I dropped my bus ticket. I was proper panicking as that is the only way for me to get back to the Hotel. I didn’t have data on my phone. I guess I could’ve walked, but it probably took an hour back at least. The second time I went back to the front desk to see if anyone had picked it up, a guy approached the front desk with it. I can’t express my relief, and my surprise at how friendly the Kiwis are. (Last day at the airport before flying out, you also hear all sorts of announcements about lost items being picked up). In most other cities, if you lose something, especially a piece of paper bus ticket, you’d almost certainly never see it again.

I caught the next bus to the mall further West. Most of the clothes I packed are for a tropical island, so I needed to get something long sleeves. I didn’t recognize most brands here other than Cotton On (all shorts), and ESPRIT. I found a simple white button down blouse, and a navy & white striped long cardigan, that’s perfect! It was something like 50% off then another 25%.

The last bus from the mall was 4pm, so I was back at the hotel pretty early. Sunset is pretty late here as it is very far from the equator. After a rest and some more video editing, I head to the wharf area around 7pm to grab some my last supper of the year. I paid around just $250 HKD for so much food - half a dozen oysters, prawn & scallops grilled with this creamy sauce plus a side of roasted potatoes, and a beer! The seafood was so fresh like it had been just fished out of the ocean right before it hit the table.

The next day I'll be heading to one of the nearby islands from Auckland - Waiheke island. It is just a half an hour ferry ride away. It is a pretty big island with lots to do, from hikes, to beaches, and wineries. But of course, HAPPY NEW YEAR! what a year it's been. So much has happened in 2016, and I'm incredibly grateful for everything that I've been able to experience and accomplish. If you haven't read it yet, head over to read my Dear 2016 blog post

And as always, thank you for your readership and support. I really hope I've inspired you in some way! 

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