Welcome to this week’s Postcard From – the feature where I chat to some lucky explorer about their recent travels. If you would like to take part please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org or @em_luxton – I would love to hear from you!
This week´s Postcard is from Zara Sproul, the blogger behind TheWorldThru4Eyes. At the moment, Zara is half way through an 11 month trip around the world with her boyfriend. After finishing University in England last June, the pair decided to pack up and head off to live and work in New Zealand for six months. Now at the end of their time in NZ, Zara and her partner are heading for Fiji and then onto Los Angeles, El Salvador, then all through South America starting in Colombia and finishing in Rio, with stops at all the expected places, including the World Cup (just like your´s truly)!
Welcome Zara! Tell us about Auckland…
Auckland is the business centre of New Zealand, although not the capital city, and you can totally tell. It’s a big, busy and exciting city to live in. No day is ever the same in Auckland, given the variety of the suburbs and surrounding areas. Ponsonby has a really ‘cool’ feel to it, with lots of quirky bars and restaurants, while Parnell has a more European side to it with French Markets on Sundays. Further out, the Western Coast is beautiful, and has a wild feel with rugged black sand beaches, while if you head North you come across stunning vineyards and crystal clear water. Being a beach and water lover, I really appreciated the fact that Auckland has so many stunning beaches nearby, from Takapuna on the North Shore, to Mission Bay, to Omaha, Long Beach, and the beautiful Hauraki Gulf – a marine reservation area that Auckland sits in – which has multiple islands you can ferry out to for the day!
How was the weather?
Both of us had visited New Zealand during winter last time (which is stunning by the way – just incredibly cold) so we planned to be here for their summer months. It worked really well with finishing University in June…we arrived at the end of September when the weather was still a little chilly, but this enabled us to get the whole summer. Any oh my, what a summer it was. We were so fortunate, it was beautiful blue skies and T-shirts and shorts weather most days. As we leave now (early April) it’s starting to get a little colder, but we still have beautiful blue skies 🙂
Where did you stay while you were living in NZ?
Given the fact that we were going to be in Auckland working in the city for 6 months, we rented an apartment which was as nearby as possible. We didn’t have a car, wanted the option to walk to work/into the city easily. After much deliberation, and trekking to viewings (Auckland is SO hilly!) we settled on a studio flat on Beach Road, which is in ‘central Auckland’ but closer to Parnell really. It turned out to be a perfect location for us, we worked within a 10 minute walk away, the super market was around the corner, and we could walk back from town after nights out.
Besides working and saving for your trip, what have you been getting up to in the last six months?
There is SO much to do in Auckland, and it’s surrounding areas I am so glad that we had 6 months to do it all. Obviously, the famous sky tower can’t be missed, and the views across the city and the beautiful harbour are pretty much unrivalled. That said, climbing Rangitoto (Aucklands youngest volcano – of which is has many!!) provided incredible 360 views of Auckland and the harbour. Mt Eden – another volcano – is also worth the walk up for beautiful views. We spent a lot of time wandering the city, and trying out lots of bars and restaurants – the Viaduct area on the water front is great for restaurants and upmarket bars. We spent a lot of time on the beach too, at Takapuna and Mission Bay – they’re so easy to get to from the city but you still get a chilled out beach feel. On the walk over to Mission Bay we stopped In at Kelly Tarltons which is an awesome underground (quite small) aquarium. We’ve ventured a little further north to Matakana which is a famous region for vineyards for a weekend in February, we had beautiful weather which was great, and we went horse riding on Pakiri Beach, and snorkelled another marine reserve at Goat Island.
What was your highlight?
There are so many, it’s hard to decide! Probably walking up Rangitoto. It is a volcano is Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf, which was formed by eruptions between 550-600 years ago, and it was used during World War 2 to store mines and house US troops. We jumped on the ferry from Central Auckland which took about 20 minutes and gave beautiful views of the city. It’s awesome that within 20 minutes you can go from central city madness, to wild black rock volcanic Island. We did the Summit walk which took about an hour, and from the summit you get some absolutely breathtaking views of the islands and the city. On the way down there are lava caves that you can explore (with a torch) too!
What was the food like?
Amazing. Auckland has such a diverse array of restaurants and bars etc that you can basically get anything you want. There’s a huge Asian scene out here, with lots of amazing Asian food courts – food alley for example, that has loads of different Asian options all for super cheap. As well as this, there are so,e gorgeous up market restaurants in the viaduct from Wildfire – a Brazilian steak house, to Euro – a European fusion restaurant. I absolutely love Ortolana – a cute small Italian super healthy restaurant near Britomart, which is conveniently right next door to my favourite dessert place – Milse. Genuinely the best desserts you’ve ever seen or tasted. 🙂
In six months, you must have had a least one embarrassing moment or funny story…
When we went horse riding on Pakiri Beach we had to select our horse riding capabilities. I rode a lot as a child so I put intermediate assuming that it would be completely fine… They obviously assumed I was far more capable that I was, and gave me a tough horse. By tough I mean mental, he was biting other horses, refused to be anywhere in line apart from the front, wouldn’t slow down etc etc. On our trip there was a very young girl who was riding for the first time who was being led by an instructor. Right near the end of the ride, my horse – aptly names Diesel – got freaked and galloped past the young girl and obviously spooked her horse too. Her horse sped off, leaving the poor little girl behind on the floor! I felt so bad!!
Do you have any tips or advice for anyone planning a similar trip?
I normally ask if you learnt any of the local lingo, but since NZ is an english speaking place I’m hoping you didn´t need to! Did you pick up any new slang?
Although they speak English in NZ it is surprising how they kind of have a language of their own! Not just kiwi-isms, but a while bunch of other things that make next to no sense to us English folk.. I’ve noticed that if you ask someone a question they just casually shrug and say “Yeah, Nah” . WHAT DOES THAT MEAN!??
NB – all images are owned by Zara Sproul.