14.01.2014 - 14.01.2014
I can't believe we are here. This is the last country on our epic trip and one that we have been looking forward to most. With promises of amazing scenery, adventures and of course hobbits we were excited to be moving on.
We would be exploring both North and South Islands in 3 weeks using the hop on, hop off bus provided by a company called Stray. Spotting a good deal back in Easter we got our Shortmoe bus ticket half price, and would be booking our accommodation and activities along the way. First stop for us was Auckland and as our timings didn't work to catch the bus on the first day we arrived in NZ we spent a couple of nights here. Getting into the city from the airport was easy as there is a bus that runs every 10 minutes for $16 and the driver was happy to drop us off near where we were staying. We had chosen to stay in an apartment we had found through air B&B, a website where people can rent out rooms in their houses. Our hosts were a friendly kiwi/English couple with 2 cats and it was lovely to have a homely welcome after leaving our Aussie family behind.
It was early in the morning when we arrived and after popping over the road for a yummy breakfast a much needed nap was in order before we explored the city.
We were only about 20 mins walk from the centre so decided to just walk into town and see what we could find. As soon as we got more into the city it felt oddly familiar, it was almost like what Melbourne would be like with a harbour.
We had heard that Stray offer a free city tour in Auckland so we headed to their shop to find out more. We had missed that days departure so booked ourselves on for the next day and decided to catch a ferry over to Devonport.
Return ticket was about 11 bucks each and only took 15 mins. As we got closer you could make out the quaint houses looking out over the water and we instantly thought we would like this place. It was very picturesque and had an old world feel with a horse and cart, little cafes and shops and we discovered that yarn bombing happens here too! This is where knitting is wrapped around objects and we d seen this in Melbourne where trees and even bikes had been given the tea cosy treatment.
On Devonport there is Mt Victoria one of the many volcanic comes which make up the area. Describing it as a mountain is a bit deceptive as its more of a big hill but keen to see the views back over the city we grabbed a picnic, dodged an old lady who offered us a lift in her car to the top before asking if anyone back at home would miss us if we were kidnapped and pay a ransom, and then followed the path to walk up to the top.
Most people seemed to have been drawn into the cafes for lunch so it felt like we had Mt Victoria to ourselves as we spiralled up to the top being met by one gorgeous view after the next.
At the top you can seem remnants of how this area was used during the Second World War where defences including disappearing guns and tunnels were built incase there was an attack on the city. This location was chosen as Mt Victoria is the highest cone at 87m.
Not sure what the toadstools were about but I liked them!
We had heard that the museum was good so caught the ferry back to the city and then a bus to go and check it out. Unfortunately we had lost track of time hanging out in Devonport and arrived only half an hour before it closed. This turn out to be a bit of a bummer and a blessing as we discovered that the museum wasn't free for tourists and cost $25, but as it was close to closing we were allowed in for free for a quick look.
Keen to find out more about the Maori culture we headed to this section but we were so tired by this point we weren't taking much of the information in and so headed back to the apartment. It was only here that I realised that I had burnt my face! After months of being vigilant with the sunscreen I had made the rookie mistake of being fooled by the clouds and gone out without sunscreen or a hat! I had forgotten that there is a hole in the ozone layer over New Zealand and the sun is STRONG, with average burn time here being only 8 minutes!!