Auckland is a city I’ve visited numerous times in my life; for family growing up, and more recently for work. But I’ve never sent a weekend in the city, alone, just because.. It’s actually been pretty good – I’ve been able to just wander, get lost and explore like I would overseas without worrying about being able to ask questions in English (or being without maps on my phone).
What I love about Auckland:
– the multiculturalism! It is a lot like Wellington in this regard, but strolling down Queen St really reinforces New Zealand cities’ spin on multiculturalism.
– the city just goes on and on. You won’t find all the shops and offices concentrated in one CBD because they’re scattered across the map (for the most part they used to be little townships and the city just got assimilated into the city as it grew).
– the creativity in the shop displays. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Auckland is a creative city, but there are some retail stores that had me twitching for a camera. They’re gorgeous – even some of the chain stores that we have all over the country.
– the views are great. Auckland is a city built on/around volcanoes so there are hills galore. From the Auckland Museum in Parnell you can catch good views down to the water between the trees. And there’s always the SkyTower.
– so many people are fashion snobs (which I don’t like), but it means that the second-hand clothing stores are overstocked with good quality clothes (for cheap!). If you’re interested in second hand clothing, check out Recycle Boutique on the corner of Queen and Darby Sts.
– the easy pampering – I got my first ever manicure this morning on a spur of the moment stop in a downtown mall. Cheap, too!
– my hotel had an amazing shower. Trip made.
What I don’t really like about Auckland:
– the city’s very disjointed and if you plan to stay for any length of time, you will really need a car. From my experience with the public transport, it’s very confusing (especially the buses). In the city’s defense, the trains are meant to be pretty good.
– the coffee is crap. Sorry guys, growing up in Wellington where an excellent coffee is the standard, not an exception, has clearly spoiled me. I feel sorry for the residents in any city where Starbucks makes on of the best coffees.
– the excessive number of people smoking on the street/footpaths. Please stop blowing smoke in the faces of people waiting to cross the road. It’s gross.
And some things I’ve noticed:
– my hotel is surrounded by strip clubs, massage parlours, and backpackers bars. A little like my first inner-city apartment (and the drycleaners where I used to work).
– quite a few people wear their Ugg-boot style slippers when they’re shopping. I’m all for being comfortable (and it’s not overly unusual to see people actually shopping in their pajamas at home), but it’s not something I’ll be trying in the foreseeable future.
– there are a lot of fast-food chains here that we don’t have in Wellington (namely Dunkin’ Donuts and Wendy’s). I’ve definitely eaten more junk food this weekend than I should have just for the experience.
– people in the city aren’t as rude and Auckland-centric as the rest of the country make them out to be. Sure, they like Auckland and I don’t have quite the same suite of feelings towards the city, but how is it any different to my love of Wellington? (it isn’t)
I’m writing this now from the airport, having checked in a couple of hours early to avoid spending yet more money (and to get out of the rain). I have a giant bag full of snacks – apples, grapes, yogurt and Dunkin’ Donuts munkins – to keep me from the overpriced cafes, and Fifty Shades Darker to keep me occupied.