We continue my journey through New Zealand as Jon, Pei, and I flew from Queenstown in South Island back up to Auckland in North Island and were joined by Young, Jessica, Karen, and Sam. It was a drastic change of scenery; despite being surrounded by plenty of nature, Auckland itself is very much a city.
Breakfast at our Airbnb.
Crumb! In our short three-day visit to Auckland, we managed to dig in and become regulars at this coffee shop down the street, visiting it every morning.
We were probably pretty memorable as a crew of six Asian Americans plus Sam.
I found some apropos humor in this magazine article below, seeing as to how I was playing seventh wheel to three pairs of couples. =)
On our first full day, we headed out of Auckland in our Toyota Previa (yes, they still exist in New Zealand) and drove to the Waitomo glowworm caves.
Unbeknownst to us, the tour company botched our reservations for their adventurous “Black Abyss” glowworm cave tour, double booked themselves, and already let the other group go instead of us. After some negotiations on Jon’s part, we got downgraded to the most basic tour (which turned out to be plenty for our skill level) at half price with free photos thrown in. With our extra time before the new tour started, we were told to go on an easy hike nearby.
They don’t allow you to bring any cameras, even gopros, inside the caves. Of course we got the photos that they took for us as part of our deal, but most of them were not great. Here’s a decent one below! The glowworms were pretty cool, even when we found out they’re basically cannibals that have glowing poop. They look like constellations on the cave ceilings. Here’s a recent article with beautiful glowworm cave photos from a New Zealand photographer.
Dusk, as we drove back to Auckland, where we managed to find a delicious dumpling shop where we tiredly filled our bellies.
We spent the next day exploring the Ponsonby neighborhood of Auckland. The first store we went into was a succulent shop in the front and an art print shop in the back. LOVE. I bought a lovely blind debossed map of New Zealand to add to my map collection.
The rest of Ponsonby is also filled with adorable boutiques and delicious restaurants.
In the afternoon we happened upon “George in the Park” when we saw tons of people all walking in the same direction. Turns out it’s a free music festival put on by a radio station.
That evening, we had reservations for dinner atop the Sky Tower in their rotating restaurant overlooking the city. Gimmicky perhaps, but fun!
And on our final day in Auckland, we started by visiting the Auckland War Memorial Museum, which commemorates World War I and local Auckland history.
At the museum: a haka show– an intimidation dance done by the Maori people.
And finally, we visited Hobbiton, which will be the next post of the series!
Visit Wanaka, the Hooker Valley Track, Lake Tekapo, & Christchurch, in South Island, New Zealand
- Our Auckland itnerary:
- Day 1: Hang out at Crumb cafe in the Grey Lynn neighborhood. Our favorite spot. Drive about three hours out to Waitomo to visit the glowworm caves. We booked the Black Abyss tour but ended up on Black Labyrinth after the company messed up our reservation. That seemed like plenty for us in the end anyway.
- Day 2: Explore the Ponsonby neighborhood of Auckland. Super cute boutiques abound. Have dinner in the Sky Tower for a revolving view over Auckland. Or bungee jump off the tower if you’re more adventurous.
- Day 3: If I did this again, I think I’d go and explore the beach at Piha or go on a short hike. Instead, we went and saw the haka show at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, which was ok, but not my favorite thing. In the afternoon, drive the 2.5 hours to Hobbiton! More on that in the next post to come.
Anna Wu is a wedding and portrait photographer based in San Francisco but often traveling and working around the world. She creates beautiful, soft, and timeless imagery while capturing the most fleeting of moments. View her work at annawu.com, follow her daily adventures on instagram, or contact her to book your own session today.
Part 1: The Road to Milford Sound | South Island, New Zealand
Part 2: Wanaka, Hooker Valley Track, & Christchurch | South Island, New Zealand
Part 3: Auckland & Waitomo | North Island, New Zealand
Part 4: Hobbiton | North Island, New Zealand
Part 5: Hamilton Island, Australia
Part 6: Sydney, Australia
Part 7: Bondi Beach & Sydney, Australia
Part 8: Melbourne, Australia