Taking a 2:20 am flight out of Cairns I arrived in Auckland even before the sun did. It was such an amazing feeling, like the dawn of a new day, literally and figuratively. I was in New Zealand for the first time and it felt like the possibilities were endless.
I hopped in the Airbus and it took me into the city. As we drove along the highway, the sun was just beginning to break over the horizon. The view was incredible. Like a kid, I couldn’t stop looking out of the windows and marveling at the sight. The ride into the city didn’t take very long, probably 20 minutes or so, and I was there before I knew it.
It was barely 8 am and I couldn’t check in till 2 pm, so I stowed my bag away and started reading up on all the visitor magazines I’d collected at the airport. The hostel, YHA International, also had its fair share of activity brochures, maps and information. I sat down in the lounge and flipped through everything for a couple of hours as I tried to get a better understanding of the city.
Even after reading all the materials, I was surprisingly still quite energetic so I decided to have a walk around the city. I headed to Karangahape Road because I’d read somewhere that it could be a little dodgy at night. I figured this would be a good chance to visit since it was midday.
|Slide Album: Auckland|
K-Road did have its fair share of tattoo parlors and adult stores, but it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. Yes, the area was a little edgy and dirty, but that’s what also made it a hip place to hang out at restaurants and cafes. The street was composed of an eclectic collection of stores – ethnic eateries, convenience stores, cheap electronics, second-hand clothes (op shops it seems they are called here) and shoes. It reminded me a lot of Haight Street in San Francisco.
As I wandered along, I found an alley with some awesome graffiti-style artwork. I don’t know if it’s a mural or real graffiti, but it was striking all the same. It’s small touches like this that really add personality to a city. And for Auckland, I suppose that’s a good thing. No one I’d spoken to before arriving in Auckland had one good thing to say about it. I’m not sure why because many people couldn’t even explain it to me. They just said that Auckland had no soul. But, how can it be half as bad as what they say when you can find stuff like this here?
Next I turned down Ponsonby, which was a street that had a completely different feel to it. It seemed more upscale and had a variety of restaurants and cafes that all seemed trendy and probably pricey. There were shops of all kinds along both sides of the road, and the restaurants were teeming with the young, hip and beautiful who were out at business lunches.
I continued on and found a wonderful view of the Sky Tower. Yes, it looks a bit similar to the Space Needle in Seattle, but it’s still pretty wonderful. I was feeling a bit weary having been up for more than 24 hours and decided to head back to the hostel. I didn’t realize that I’d been walking for almost seven kilometers, but I suppose you don’t notice these things when you’re so consumed with everything around you.
When I reached the hostel, I checked into an eight-bed dorm and met Annabel from China. She had also just arrived in New Zealand and was planning to look for a job. Instead of resting like I’d originally planned, I went to the city with Annabel so she could get a SIM card for her phone and open up a bank account. Both tasks were something I’d eventually need to do, but as I didn’t know anyone in the city at the moment and didn’t have a job, I didn’t really need either.
After walking around for a bit, we had dinner at a Japanese place around the corner from our hostel. We both had the curry, which was the first rice I’d had in a long time. It tasted okay but didn’t taste half as good as the curry katsu from Curry House at home. But it was a cheap meal and it was filling. After dinner, we headed back to the hostel, where I decided to finally call it a night. All in all, my first day and night in Auckland was simply wonderful.