Tuesday, June 2nd
We ventured out to the international food court just down Ponsonby where I had Laos food for the first time. I had a sizzling noodle dish and we followed it up with gelato just across the street. After exploring the area for a bit and popping into a convenience store, we came back to the hostel and relaxed for the rest of the night.
We have probably done the least amount of planning ahead for Auckland. I knew there were several things I wanted to do, but that quite a few are out of town and fairly expensive. We decided to spend our first day just checking out the city center. We took a bus to the SkyTower and wandered around from there. We popped into the Auckland art museum first and spent some time there before going nearby to the library, which turned out to be not very exciting. There was a park right outside the museum that we meandered through and we found a beautiful tower that belonged to a college, so we took a peak inside. We stopped for some Korean pancakes at No. 1 Pancake and I had the most delicious cinnamon and sugar filled pancake. While we were sitting and eating, two girls from GreenPeace spent quite a long time chatting with us. When we finally parted ways with them, we walked around town through the shopping streets. We went down High St., Federal, and Elliot to check out the little shops. Afterwards, we headed toward the docks to make our way towards the Viaduct when it started POURING rain. We sat in the shelter of a gelato shop for a while before trying to make a break for it, but it only got worse, so we ducked into a revolving sushi bar to get some dinner. Afterwards, we hopped on a bus back towards Ponsonby and stopped at a little food mart before coming back to the hostel. While we were out, we bought chocolate milk and red velvet Tim Tams so we could try the Tim Tam slam. Lori tells me that this is when you drink hot chocolate through a Tim Tam until the chocolate melts, and then you eat the whole thing. It definitely was not graceful, but it was SO delicious. We spent some time all snuggled in Lori's bed making plans for the rest of our trip before going to sleep.
Thursday, June 4th
Charlotte is lucky enough to know someone who lives in Auckland, and this girl was lovely enough to show us around town a bit. Her name is Karmen, and she met Charlotte when they both studied abroad in Singapore. Karmen picked us up in the morning and drove us around a bit. We started by seeing Mission Bay, but the weather was a bit gloomy so we didn't stay. We then went over the bridge into a different part of town near where Karmen lives. She took us to a place by her house where she likes to run, and we did a bit of a hike in the hills amidst drizzles of rain. It was quite hilly and along the beach, and there were two beautiful rainbows during the moments it wasn't raining. It was actually the closest I've ever come to seeing the end of the rainbow. It looked like it was physically touching the beach. We hiked up, up, and up until we got to the most beautiful view of Long Bay and the sea. It was quite a muddy path, and I was very lucky not to fall on my face in the mud. Karmen brought us to her house afterwards to warm up, and Charlotte cooked us the most delicious pancakes. We all sat in her living room for a bit chatting and learning more about each other. We drove by the beach Takapuna on the way back to our hostel. I'm so grateful to Karmen for all the sweet things she did for us. Once we were back, Lori, Charlotte, and I walked around the Ponsonby area to check out the shops and ended up eating at Toto's Pizza where we ordered the most delicious pizza by the half meter.
Friday, June 5th
The girls and I were very determined to get to see the movie set of Lord of the Rings while we were here, so we managed to book a full day of touring and that was a part of it. We hopped on a tour bus bright and early and our driver Tom, who took quite a fancy to me, drove us off into the sunrise. Hehe does it sound magical yet? Well we drove first to Waitomo to explore some caves they have there. We walked down into the caves to admire the stalactite and stalacmite before hopping on a boat at the bottom of the cave. The boat took us into a very dark portion of the caves where there were glow worms everywhere. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. There were over 50,000 little lights on the ceiling and it looked like we were looking up at the stars. Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take photos, but some things are better experienced that way. I'll put in a photo I found online so you can at least get an idea of it. We popped back on the bus and had lunch before our next stop. We had a quick detour to the Agro Dome, which I guess is a big farm in a town filled with volcanic activity. We watched some sheep being sheered and a dog herd the sheep before our bus to Hobbiton arrived to pick us up. We took once again another bus out to Hobbiton, which was stunning. I never expected it to be so picturesque, with the rolling green hills backlit by the sunset. We spent about 45 minutes exploring the hobbit holes before finishing off our tour with a free drink in the Green Dragon bar. We waited at the gift shop for our next bus to pick us up and eventually made it back to Auckland for the evening. We swing by an international food court in the city and had some Indian food for dinner before crashing for the evening.
Saturday, June 6th
We got a bit of a late start to the day, but we had a little breakfast at the hostel before heading out to the Parnell neighborhood. They had a cute little farmers market just behind the library, so i picked up some beet juice and cheese while we browsed the rest of the delicious looking produce. Just up the road from the market is the Auckland Museum, which overlooks a lot of the city. We took in the view a bit before heading inside. The museum was completely overwhelming, but beautiful. There was so much information to take in that there was no way I would get to everything in one day. We spent a good chunk of time in the Maori art and history section and also in the war memorial part before I got overwhelmed and we decide that was enough for one day. We walked along Parnell a bit since it's quite a cute shopping area before settling into Alphabet Cafe for some deeeeelicious pumpkin soup. Pumpkin soup will forever remind me of Bali, because we ate it with practically every meal there. We headed back to the hostel for a bit before Lori and Charlotte headed to Karmen's house for a BBQ. I was feeling under the weather, so I stayed behind, took some meds, and slept. The girls were sweet enough to bring me back some munchies and medicine, which enabled me to power through the night, because it was our last night to go out on the town. We ended up at a bar called Little Easy just across the road from our hostel. We had such a fun night dancing and goofing around. I did not enjoy the creepy dude that kept trying to dance with me, but eventually he got the hint to back off and the rest of the night was easy going from there. The three of us sat in the living room snuggling and chatting for a while after getting back until we were too tired to stay up any longer.
Sunday, June 7th
I woke up feeling quite bad...probably not the best idea to stay out till 3:30am last night. We slept in later than we have the entire trip, and took our time coming down to have breakfast. It was a nice, relaxed morning. I decided to take the day to relax, so the girls went off hiking while I stayed behind and did some laundry. When the girls got back, we all headed out to dinner at Thai Me Up, where I got some Tom Yum soup to try to help me feel better. We headed back to the hostel and discovered that the living room was free, so we snagged it to watch Lord of the Rings, and a bunch of people ended up joining. It turned out to be a fun night.
Monday, June 8th
Today was a very early travel day. We left our hostel at 5 AM to head to the airport. The three of us had a flight together to Sydney, but then we had to part ways. I am so thankful to have had the two weeks with Lori, but it really sucks not having her in my life every single day. It was hard saying goodbye and not knowing when I'll see her again, but I'm sure it won't be too long. We had a very long 8 hour flight to Singapore where water costed $4 and there were no tv screens in the back of the chairs. Charlotte and I were SO lucky that a lovely Scoot check in lady gave us an isle and a window seat, and made sure no one sat in between. It's people like that who just make your day after all of the stupid jerks we have dealt with lately.