If you pronounce each individual letter of the word, exactly as it’s written, ah-o-tee-ah-ro-ah is the Māori name for New Zealand. It used to be the name for the North Island only, but it is now commonly used as an all-encompassing name for the whole country. Helen and I began our Māori journey in Auckland, which is pretty north on the North Island. Our plane landed at ridiculous o’clock on Thursday 23rd February 2016. We’d gotten a little bit of Kiwi cash in the preceding days in Melbourne, so hopped on to the NZ Skybus that looked identical to the one we got on in Melbourne a few hours prior and headed to the hostel.
Arriving at the hostel which did not have a 24-hour reception, we retrieved our key from the key deposit box and got into the building. The lift was out of order and we were up on the third floor. But reception was on the first floor, and the numbering started from there, so in actual fact we were on the fourth floor. Trying to drag a suitcase up 4 flights of stairs at 2:45am was tiring, and I was blessed by an amazing girl who insisted she wanted to help me! She was checking out and flying to Australia the following day, so I didn’t even get a chance to hang out with her, but she made my night!
We had a few nights in Auckland before our Kiwi Experience bus tour was due to start, to take in the sights and to get a good rest because we knew that the remainder of the trip would be tiring and apart from a few nights we’d planned to stay with my family, it was going to be all go for six weeks until our flight home.
Auckland has got a nice green area called Albert Park. It was a welcome change to have something named after Queen Victoria’s husband, instead of herself. There was a lovely water feature where you could sit and chill for a bit, a bit of kooky street art the weather was great and a gentle stroll was just what we needed after a long lie in! There were some really pretty flowers and trees. It was like nature just got a bit of a boost, even though the sky wasn’t as blue as it could have been. Although, it does need to be said that the weather in incredibly changeable in New Zealand. Within 10 minutes, the sky can go from being solid grey to completely bright blue, without a hint of the grey clouds that were there only moments before. And back again! You’ll see this in my pictures that were taken over the course of an hour.
Auckland had some great cheap eats, but our good luck in the culinary world was to be short-lived when we came to realise just how expensive food is in New Zealand. There felt like there was a lot of choice though, and it was all on the natural side. One thing that I could feel was going to pull on the purse-strings was the abundance of freshly made ice-cream!
When you think of New Zealand, most people think about the beautiful landscapes and mountains and lakes, and Auckland is no exception. Except perhaps that the natural wonder known as Mount Eden Domain. Mount Eden is actually the name of an Auckland Suburb that many locals associate with a prison that was built a long time ago, and that many tourists associate with the dormant volcano which overlooks the Central Business District. What is really weird about it though, is that massive crater!
We climbed it in the early evening, and waited for a long while until the sun went down, and it was a brilliant sunset.
We may or may not have walked through a first date, and then I may or may not have used Helen to get this picture of Thierry climbing the Sky Tower, looking a great deal like Godzilla. With one leg…
I like to think it symbolises the fact that we were due to conquer the delights that Aotearoa had to offer, 18,339km from home.