After a Jetstar cancelled flight we finally arrived in Auckland a whole day later, but there was no rush and we got a nice hotel stay out of it. We left the airport and boarded one of the local buses to head to the Airbnb we booked, there was no change in Auckland in terms of public transport it wasn’t great unless you are travelling to the main areas. We were going to a residential area but it was right next to the Auckland Botanical Gardens, in the end, it took us 1 hour 20 minutes to get to the house, which was only a 20 minutes drive away, but we made it after a short walk. Due to the cancellation, we would only be here one night but it was fine, as it was pretty far from everything we spent the afternoon wandering around the botanical gardens which had nice views and beautiful flowers. It also marked a big milestone in our journey SIX MONTHS! We celebrated with a greasy Chinese takeaway, it was the only option.
One of the reasons we chose to visit Auckland was because we landed a house sitting opportunity, prior to arriving we really worked hard to get a house sit due to the high living costs in New Zealand, and we based our travel plans around this. Luckily we got a week stay in the Auckland region, and the next morning the owner of the house picked us up and took us to Glenedene, Auckland. She gave us a whistle-stop tour of the area so we knew where everything was, Auckland is quick to get around if you have a car, and the house sit came with the use of the car although there was some confusion about how much we could use the car, turns out it was really only for driving the dogs around with a little extra to explore nearby areas.
Welcome to our House Sit Adventure
The lady was lovely and very friendly, she introduced us to the family, Zola the German Shepherd, Lakota the Border Collie and the two cats. The location was pretty good only 20 minutes drive from the centre of Auckland CBD and close to some awesome views. We spent the first night with the couple before they headed off on their trip, they were both very lovely and brought us some treats and we had dinner together. Zola was a house dog and loved to stare at lights and was obsessed with chasing bubbles, she would run and jump to pop them, it was funny to see. Lakota was being trained to be a search and rescue dog and had to stay outside so that she did not get used to home comforts she was very cute but would go crazy when she saw another dog. The two cats were cute but they wandered around and came to find us if they wanted attention and food.
What did we do in Auckland:
We had the use of the couples car for small trips and taking the dogs out the to park or going for walks, so we had the permission to visit places in Auckland.
The whole of Auckland was built on a volcanic field, so as expected there are many mountains dotted around the city which provide great views of the surrounding areas. One of the top places to visit was Mount Eden, which was near the centre of the city, no cars are allowed up the mount so it means a nice stroll or cycle to the summit. Once you reach the top you are blessed with awesome views of the city and the surrounding area. We went up just before sunset and got to see the beautiful colours of the sky, shame for some of the cloud cover. As this was a volcano you can still see the huge crater in the centre, although now it is grass covered.
We boarded the boat to Waiheke Island from Auckland harbour, the cost was very high and we made such an effort to get here, bus replacement service on the trains took double the time… We paid the fare and made our way to the ferry, the trip to the island was nice and took us past some of the other islands nearby like Rangito and Browns Island. The trip took around 40 minutes and once we arrived we made our way on foot to the walking trails. We took the walking track to Cable Bay winery, which was only 20 minutes walk from the harbour.
There are walking tracks all over the island which take you to different parts, the island is known for having amazing views and great vineyards producing the finest quality wines. The views were magnificent the rolling hills, and being able to see the city from afar made for a wonderful walk. We walked around some of the other walk tracks but it was rather hot, after walking around for a few hours we had to make our way back to the ferry to go back to the house to feed the dogs. Ideally, if you visit Waiheke I would recommend spending the whole day, go on the first boat come back on the last one to make the most of the island and the fare.
Mt Victoria and Devonport
We drove over the harbour bridge and arrived in Devonport which is across the bay from Auckland CBD, you can take a ferry if you are roaming around the city on foot. We first walked up to the top of Mount Victoria which again was similar to Mount Eden but provided a different view of the city which was awesome to see along with looking out to the sea. This area was historically used for defence around Auckland with many guns and turrets on the top, these are still present but not for defensive reasons.
This was a long drive but worth it if you have a car and you are in the Auckland region, the roads take you through the national park along winding around many corners and climbing and descending. We decided to take the dogs as it would be a nice place to walk and enjoy the sunset. Once you arrive in the area the road overlooks the beach which showcases an awesome view of the rock formation on the beach. We stopped for a quick photo then made our way down to the beach, the first part we stopped at were no dogs, the second part were no dogs, finally, we found dogs allowed area but only on a leash area, we settled for this. The sun was setting and was one of the best sunsets we saw in New Zealand if not our trip so far. The dogs were curious as always but then more dogs came and Lakota had a real issue with other dogs which made the rest of the walk unbearable with her barking and trying to run at the dogs.
The beach is beautiful and partly would have been nice to come here to relax in the water and chill on the beach, but the dogs changed our plans, Zola was chilled out though like always. This is a great place to watch the sunset and not very crowded, it is quite further out from the city so makes for a relaxing place to wander around.
We were house sitting in Glendene which is in the West Auckland region, it was only 20 minute from the centre, traffic wasn’t a major issue here. Seemed to be quick and easy to get around even at rush hour, but compared to most big cities not a lot of people live here in comparison. Due to having to walk the dogs, this gave us an excuse to explore the area, we saw some great views of the city from here while we walked the dogs.
The house we were staying in was located right next to one of the Church Unlimited campuses, which meant we took a trip over to the church one Sunday morning. It was very lively and modern and showed the mixture of people from different backgrounds, this area has a high Maori population and it was great to see lots of people together. They also had an Islanders show in the evening which we went back for. People from the nearby islands like the Cook Islands came to perform their traditions to the congregation. This was awesome to see and really gave us an insight not only into the traditions of the people from the nearby islands and Maori’s but for the culture of this church.
We took a road trip out of the city
After the house sitting we booked a car from Alpha Rentals in the city, our intention was to see all the areas further away from the city as we were not able to do so during the house sit. I also had another Arrivedo hotel job to do at the Haka Newmarket hotel in the city centre. As we planned to visit areas that were 2- 3 hours away it would be 2 days of solid driving around to see these areas.
Coromandel and the Surrounding Area
We picked up our car, packed the luggage in the boot and drove all the way to Coromandel, it is a large area so Sassi researched places to go while we travelling on the road to Coromandel. The journey was easy with a few road works and slow caravans in the way. The drive is easy the roads are pretty standard just have to make sure you don’t get distracted by pretty views, that is always the case with New Zealand.
Our first stop of the day, Karangahake Gorge which was used as a mine, so there is a lot of history here with many options on walking trails around the area to explore the old mining railways and the beautiful gorge. Busy area, but there is an overflow car park just means more walking. We walked around the area and crossed the bridge over the river and headed up to a nice viewpoint. As we were on a tight schedule with all the driving we didn’t stay too long and moved on to our next destination.
Hot Water Beach
We were lucky enough to park for free, broken car park pay machine, the area was busy full of people with buckets and shovels. Shovels?? So the main activity at Hot Water Beach is to dig a big hole and sit in it… Strange thing to do on a Saturday afternoon but what happens is the water below is nice and hot, which creates this perfect little spa beach pool. The weird part was walking into the madness of hundreds of people digging for hot water, some large holes with people bathing inside, some shallow holes where people gave up. It is an interesting sight to wander into but we decided to pass on the digging seemed like a lot of effort.
A short drive from Hot Water Beach takes you to a little place called HaiHai, our goal for this part of the trip was to find a Windows 10 background. Cathedral Cove is one popular location due to the fame it has received from Windows 10. It is one of the beautiful wallpapers, and it is easy to see why they chose it, it is such a stunning location.
If you have a car you need to park in the free car park in Haihai, there is a bus that takes passengers for $5 to the bus drop off point, from here it is a 45 minute walk, which requires a fair bit of effort as you need to go up and down the hills. The views are pretty awesome and overlook the ocean with many areas to view the cliffs. The area around the cove is quite busy even towards the end of the day. Trying to get a photo without people is quite the challenge but the place is seriously awesome, the cove gives the perfect frame for a nice photo of the rock formation. The walk is worth it but if the day is ok and the water is not too dangerous they have a boat taxi service from Haihai beach, this takes out the stress of walking and provides excellent views of the coastline.
Rotoura was a little further out but was top on our list of places we had to visit, the sulphuric landscape intrigued us and after a nearly 3-hour trip, we made it to the town. First, stop food, we grabbed an Indian takeaway and ate this right next to a pond, but not any pond this one was super hot, the steam filled the area. It was interesting to witness and I guess if we had some eggs we could boil them here. We were on a budget so didn’t want to spend too much money so made our way to a free place where we could swim and feel the warm waters at Kersoene Creek.
Haka Newmarket Hotel- Auckland
Check out the Arrivedo guide I created for Haka hotel, if you ever find yourself in Auckland this is a great location to base yourself close to Mt Eden and only 15 minutes from the harbour. One of the recommendations we had from them was to eat at the Lumsden Freehouse only a few minutes walk away. The pork ribs are luscious and taste delicious but the best thing on the menu was the chicken and bacon Belgian waffle, it is amazing such a mix of flavours but it works so well together.
Check out the guide I wrote which gives some great travel recommendations for Auckland and particularly the Newmarket area.