It is pretty cool spending New Year’s in New Zealand, where you are the very first to celebrate New Years, in the world. There was a sea of people everywhere you walked in the Viaduct Harbour, which is the place to be while staying in Auckland.
Auckland is your typical city. It looks like most any other large city in most of the world, and comes with the basic stores, such as Starbucks. Of course, with having all the benefits of being in a big city, it also comes with a high price tag. The average price of a three-bedroom, two-bath house in Auckland is one million NZD, so around $695 USD with the current exchange rate. I don’t recommend spending too much time in Auckland, maybe a night or so to enjoy fresh seafood, a wine tour on a nearby island and some time walking around the Viaduct Harbour. Otherwise, I would head out to see the beauty of both islands.
The Viaduct Harbor is an incredibly, cool and trendy area that has been re-created from the old harbor buildings. Much creativity has gone into the planning of this area by re-using train containers, turning them into cafés and reading zones, and old water towers being used as storage and staging space for events.
Given the Viaduct is mostly a walking area, the Kiwi’s filled in the old railroad tracks with either cement or hard gel to create smooth walkways. They built industrial-style benches, created children’s playgrounds using old buoys, added landscape art and a stylish wading pool. The area is home to various restaurants, a world-class harbour, architecturally pleasing and high-end condos, a walking bridge and a staircase cascading down into the water, which, unlike most other cities, you can safely swim in and not be concerned with growing a tail.
One of the coolest things I found in Auckland are the cross walks, which are called a “Pedestrian Scramble”. These crosswalks allow people on every corner to either cross parallel or diagonally, all at once. You would think it would be a total shit-show, but it actually works better than taking turns with the lights, and I love it! Watch this video from someone who REALLY got into them.
If you are into wine, I highly suggest a winery tour on Waiheke Island and for something relaxing and different, try an over-night cruise with Harauki Blue Cruises. I really enjoyed both, met some incredibly fun people and the islands are beautiful!
After a few days of roaming the north island, a quick flight to Christchurch on the south island to start a self-drive tour, which proved to be less of a challenge than I thought, with the exception of the indicators being on the right side of the steering column. Even after seven days, I was still turning on the windshield wipers instead of signaling, but I will cover all that fun in more detail in my next post!