Sunday, 19 March 2017

New Zealand Revisited

It must have been ages since I last visited New Zealand as I can't recall much of the time I spent there. The photographs I took did help to bring back memories of the trip albeit only very vague ones. There's not much that you can savour when the program is pre-set for the group and you are constantly at the mercy of your travel agent who seemed too eager to strike off each day's itinerary to call it a day. My ideal holiday is always one that I get to steer and decide what to do for myself so that first NZ trip was far from ideal for me.

When Ronnie suggested a holiday in New Zealand and gave me absolute liberty to create my own adventure, sparks of interest in this Kiwiland reignited. All Ronnie wants is a relaxed type of travel, with "beautiful scenery" as the main theme. He also wants to see NZ's largest city, Auckland as he has not been to NZ before. Minus the hot springs, thermal pools and beaches which he fancies not, my planning got a lot simpler. I came up with a plan where we would only bask in Auckland's cityscape and city attractions and then fly south to soak in all its magnificent sceneries. However the weather was forecasted to be mostly rainy and gloomy in the south just days before the trip making my heart sank a little. All I could do was hope for a miracle.

Choosing A Place To Stay
Choosing a place to stay can be quite a headache especially when you are not familiar with your destination. I prefer a hotel in the hub of Auckland to save on time and transportation cost as all the places I wanted to explore and see are within the city. Renting a car was an option that would be more inconvenient than convenient for us as parking in Auckland is not only a hassle but also costs a bomb. 
I found a few hotels which I really like but they are way too expensive (in the region of RM800/night and above). That would be a sheer waste as we would be out most of the day. After days of searching, I decided on Kiwi International Hotel. Though not cheap by Malaysian standard (approx RM478/night all-in) it is ideally located on Auckland's most happening street where food and transportation are readily available at its door step. (Guests who want to park their car in the hotel parking bay are also not exempted from paying NZ$20/day.) More importantly the room has an ensuite bathroom which has always been a prerequisite in my choice of accommodation. We are not that backpackers' type of travellers, see?
Staying in Kiwi Hotel comes with other conveniences as the airport Skybus drops its passengers right in front of it and picks up passengers about 50 meters diagonally opposite it, so getting to the domestic airport to board the plane at the end of our stay will be a total breeze.
And for that rate what kind of room did we get? It's a 'nothing to shout about' room with modest furnishing, towels and very basic toiletries. The cost of travelling in NZ is high indeed.
There is coffee and tea making facilities, a hair-dryer, a mini bar, a small table fan, a TV, hot shower, enough power points to charge all our gadgets and daily housekeeping service. It was sufficient for a comfortable stay but we simply love its location.

The two tiny packets of shampoo given each day were insufficient to wash my long hair but they are generous with complimentary sachets of tea, coffee and milk!
There is a small reception counter, a lobby lounge with lots of reading material, and a travel agent counter which sells day tours to hotel guests (at exhorbitant price). The only elevator that services this 3 storey hotel is very seasoned and will always give you a good jerk when it starts to ascend.
There is a restaurant and within it, a bar and a pool table. So that's about all the facilities that Kiwi Hotel offers. 

Walk The Streets
One of the first things we did in Auckland was to walk its streets. Walking is the best way to see and experience a lot of things but Auckland has many roads with steep gradients as it is built on a field of volcanoes. Going uphill on certain stretches can be rather exhausting.

Queen Street
Queen Street is Auckland CBD's main street and that is where we stayed. This street existed since 1840 and stretches 3 km from the waterfront to beyond Karanghape Road. We actually walked the entire stretch and not a moment did we feel bored as there were a lot of things to see. 
It is also the most happening street in Auckland with a big array of shops, boutiques, restaurants, arcades, theaters and interesting squares. Many buses ply this street and it is probably the most strategic street to hop onto cheap public buses circling around the hub.
 Beautiful heritage buildings are interspersed with modern high rises.

This is the best street for avid shoppers as there are a myriad of things available, souvenirs and branded goods too.

And if you are tired walking, there are always chairs and benches on open squares for you to take a breather.
Not the entire stretch of Queen Street is robust. Lower Queen Street is always a hive of activities but Upper Queen Street can be very quiet and by 7pm it is almost devoid of life.
This is middle Queen Street at night. Notice the road with a steep gradient?
Aotea Square is one of Queen Street's squares and it is brightly lit at night.
Almost half the people you see on the streets are Asians and Asian restaurants and eateries are available at every nook and corner not only on Queen Street but on all other streets.

Victoria Street
The top of Victoria Street is where Albert Park is located.
Auckland Sky Tower is so tall you can see it from many spots in the city but from Victoria Street you get a good, almost complete vista of it.

Takutai Square @ Galway Street
Weaving in and out of the various streets we came across Takutai Square. This chic square is the main public space in the Britomart area where people come to hangout and to dine. The square features a patch of green lawn with big bean bags scattered around, a fountain and other interesting monuments.

Quay Street
Quay Street is a waterfront street with a lot of activities as it is near the wharfs and ferry terminal.

Karanghape Road
Karanghape Road or locally known as K-Road features interesting restaurants and shops. Being even older than Queen Street it boasts of some charming heritage buildings and quite a number of interesting street arts. (I will dedicate one post for Auckland Street Arts in my coming post as I am an enthusiast). 
The western part of the street was once a red light district but today there are only sporadic remnants of that era, like this 'Las Vegas' strip club.
Our hotel is just 100 meters away from K-Road and we walked here very frequently. There is a Chinese supermarket where we often came to get snacks and fruits and a food court in this building.

As far as shopping is concerned, K-Road lacks the robustness and by 8pm, most shops except some restaurants would have been closed.

Pitt Street
We didn't walk the length of Pitt Street but just enough to see this church building.

Ponsonby Road
Ponsonby Road is one of the quieter roads and we came here to visit its park.
There are cute and lovely buildings like this in Ponsonby Road.

Park Road
Park Road is a road that we have to walk through to go to Auckland Domain. We walked a lot but also saved a lot on transport. You can only do that if you choose to stay in an accommodation with a good location.
This old building on Park Road has a lovely balcony.

Related Posts:
1.New Zealand Revisited
2.Top Things To Do In Auckland: (1) Mount Eden
3.Top Things To Do In Auckland:(2) Auckland Domain
4.Top Things To Do In Auckland: (3) Auckland Waterfront
5.My Auckland Art Trail

South Island
1. Staying In Queenstown
2. Queenstown To Glenorchy Scenic Drive
3.Journey To Kinloch Via Glenorchy-Paradise Road
4.The Journey To Milford Sound
5. Lake Hayes
6.A Trip To Cromwell
7. Exploring Wanaka
8.Cardrona Attractions
9.A Journey Through Southland
10.The Unplanned Visit To Invercargill
11.New Zealand's Southermost Town: Bluff

12.Scenic Drive From Queenstown To Kingston
13.A Trip To Arrowtown
14. Things To Do In Queenstown: Eat A Burger At Fergburger Restaurant
15.Things To Do In Queenstown: Bob's Peak
16. Things To Do In Queenstown: Walk The Town
17. A Taste Of Latin American, Caribbean And Mexican In Queenstown
18.Things To Do In Queenstown: Queenstown Gardens


essay best said...

That's the one place I want to visit in my life, I have seen some really beautiful scenries in media and that created my interest to visit it. Thanks for the post

Lily... said...

Hi thanks for visiting. Do follow my NZ post as you may get glimpses of 'that' beautiful scenery in my upcoming posts. That'll be after i finished my Auckland write-up. In Auckland the scenery is just so-so. The beautiful scenery is mostly from the South Island.

juanjuergens said...

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Lily... said...

Juanjuergens, thanks for visiting.

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