After a good rest we had a day to check out Auckland and sort out some more logistical stuff for the next few destinations (bus passes, car rental, accommodation etc). A quick web-search of what was going revealed a sand sculpture festival in the beachy suburb of Mission Bay so we went to check that out first, before hitting up the Marina area later on.
Getting around in Auckland was pretty straightforward – the CBD is pretty walkable and there is an extensive bus network where we had the post-asian luxury of everything being in English and running to a real schedule. There are also a few buses that run round the CBD in a few different loops for slightly longer walks or when you have luggage. We hopped on a bus to Mission Bay and were there in about 15 minutes (just past Sea World).
It turned out Mission Bay is a gorgeous little village with a small stretch of fine sand looking out towards the offshore volcano. We were probably helped by the fact it was a nice sunny day and, despite it being officially autumn there were plenty of sunbathers and rampant kids making the most of the fine weather. The sand sculptures were pretty cool too – not as big or grand as I had in my head but definitely way better than my limited sandcastle skills! After a chill on the beach we walked around the headland back towards the city centre to check out this cool view I had seen earlier. Then it was back onto the bus into the CBD to check out the marina.
We wandered through the Marina and around the fish market. The area was pretty bustling, especially around the maritime museum, and there was a really cool open air library where you could take a book and chill on some bean bags outside – great idea! We finished up at the famous fish market which dishes up some of the freshest catch this side of the Pacific every morning. There certainly was a lot to choose from but our lack of a Barbie meant we had to stick to window shopping, although we did score some tasty chips from the attached chippy which was a proper reminder of home (minus the gravy). It really did seem like we could be somewhere in the UK a lot of the time.
After the Marina we were back to more prepping, this time hitting up the supermarket for the next day’s road trip to the Coromandel. We stocked up on goodies and walked home only to be hit with a nightmare – our room had been infested with tiny black flies! Gross! Not sure where they had came from but we certainly weren’t going to stick around and find out. Things weren’t helped by the fact there were no other rooms available at the Shakespeare but luckily the bartender was able to secure us a room in their nearby sister pub just down the road. It would have to do – good job we were used to the nomadic lifestyle.
After carting all our stuff over to new digs we went out in search of Auckland’s best burger. A bit of research had shown Better Burger to be a good shout and boy were they not wrong. This burger is everything a Big Mac should be. Full mega shout out to Better Burger for smashing my expectations!
That was all we really had time for in Auckland. I wouldn’t say it’s a city that grabbed me in any way but it was a good jumping off point to start our New Zealand trip. And after all who comes to New Zealand for the cities? It’s all about the great outdoors and amazing scenery!