Posts Tagged With: auckland

Top 5 New Zealand Museums

New Zealand is full of rich, wonderful and culturally significant museums. I have chosen my Top 5 favourite museums across the whole of this beautiful country. Enjoy!

1. Te Papa, Wellington



Probably New Zealand’s best museum, Te Papa has something to offer everyone. The museum’s website tells you when visiting Te Papa you will ‘discover the stories of New Zealand’. From the historic right up to the contemporary (The Lord of the Rings included!) the museum has a huge number of displays and art work, and hosts exciting events and amazing exhibitions.

The content and layout of the museum is brilliant. The variety of items in the museum, along with the innovative and interesting design make for a fantastic visit. Favourite sections of ours were the sections about New Zealand’s native wildlife, as well as the 20th century displays.

It is a place that has to feature on your Wellington itinerary!

  • Opening hours: 10am-6pm, 365 days a year.
  • Cost: Free.
  • Location: 55 Cable Street, Wellington.


2. Otago Settlers Museum


IMG_0538The Otago Settlers Museum tells the stories of the people of Dunedin from the earliest settlers through to those who have recently arrived. The museum traces the lives of the settlers – indigenous Māori, the early Chinese, and other migrant groups – and their technological innovation, domestic life, fashion, art and transport.

It is an incredibly innovative and well-planned out museum. It has lots of interactive sections, and an amazing array of items covering a large period in history.

Immigration boat reconstruction

A special area of the museum is the reconstruction of being under deck on a boat that would have brought immigrants into New Zealand – it is dark and has all the noises as part of the reconstruction.

They state on their website they are ‘New Zealand’s newest and most innovative museum experience’ so be sure to check them out.

  • Opening hours: 10am-5pm, except for Christmas Day.
  • Cost: Free.
  • Location: 31 Queens Garden, Dunedin.

3. World of WearableArt™ and Classic Cars Museum, Nelson


IMG_6772.jpgA unique collaboration of two very different interests, the ‘WOW’ (World of WearableArt) and car museum offers the chance to see the world-class collection of classic cars, as well as amazing wearable art from all around the world.

The selection and layout of cars is absolutely brilliant. The information about the cars is excellent and the cars are arranged thoughtfully, with extreme care taken over their preservation.

The fashion art gallery is very innovative and unique and unlike anything we have seen before. It contains over 60 World of WearableArt garments which are fascinating to see.

This museum is a fantastic collaboration and you find something for everyone on your visit.

  • Opening hours: 10am-5pm, except for Christmas Day.
  • Cost: $24 for adults and $10 for children, concessions also apply.
  • Location: Cadillac Way off Quarantine Road, Annesbrook, near Nelson.


4. Auckland War Memorial Museum

IMG_9650A very popular museum, the Auckland War Memorial Museum is a large museum with a huge array of displays and exhibitions. It is set in a beautiful location with a view looking down towards the city.

Their website states they are ‘New Zealand’s first Museum’, and that the museum ‘tells the story of New Zealand, its place in the Pacific and its people’. It also has one of the top three heritage libraries in New Zealand.

IMG_9624The collections it houses include pre-eminent Māori and Pacific collections, social and military history collections, significant natural history resources and arts and pictorial collections. The museum is also highly involved in local education programmes.

With such a variety of collections, and in such a beautiful location overlooking the city, this museum is a must-visit on your trip to Auckland.

  • Opening hours: 10am-5pm, except for Christmas Day.
  • Cost: $25 for adults and $10 for children, free/donation for NZ residents.
  • Location: The Auckland Domain, Parnell, Auckland.


5. Southward Car Museum, Paraparaumu


IMG_1352Named after its namesake – Sir Len Southward – The Southward Car Museum is a wonderful collection of over 400 cars and bikes and really is a fantastic place to visit.

Their website claims they are the ‘largest and most comprehensive car museum in the southern hemisphere’ and their selection of vehicles are in beautiful condition and are really well presented in a huge exhibition hall. They also have a lower level within the museum, which is down some steps housing yet more cars.

More off-the-beaten track than the other museums in this list, this museum will not disappoint and may prove to be a highlight of your trip!

  • Opening hours: 9am-4.30pm, except for Christmas Day and Good Friday.
  • Cost: $17 for adults and $3 for children.
  • Location: Otaihanga Road, Paraparaumu, approx an hour’s drive north of Wellington.

There are other wonderful museums that could have made this Top 5 list, so feel to share yours with me! 🙂

Categories: Activities, New Zealand, North Island, Photographs, South Island, Top 5 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First piece published in the Huffington Post!

I am delighted to announce I have been accepted to write for the Huffington Post in their travel section. I will be writing about my travel experiences all over the world, with a focus on off-the-beaten-track adventures in New Zealand (the speciality of my travel company, Blue Penguin Travel).

Check out my first post featured below that has been published on the Huffington Post. It is titled Great Barrier Island: New Zealand’s Timeless Paradise Close to The City. It is also currently being featured on the Huffington Post Travel homepage!

Please like and share if you want to. Thank you for your support! 🙂

GBI Huff Post Screenshot



Categories: Blue Penguin, Huffington Post, New Zealand, North Island, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Photo of the Day: Great Barrier Island Sunset

Multicoloured Sunset

Multicoloured Sunset

I have been looking back through all my favourites photos taken during our year living in New Zealand and have decided to post my favourite ones featured as a ‘photo of the day’. Today’s photo is a sunset taken on the beautiful and remote island of Great Barrier Island, off the cost of Auckland. 4 hours 30 mins away by ferry, or just a 30 minute plane ride the beauty of this place has to be seen to be believed! We spent 4 days living there back in October 2012 and read about our unique experience here.

Blue Penguin TravelInterested in visiting Great Barrier Island and exploring more of New Zealand? Let Blue Penguin Travel help. We specialise in creating amazing off-the-beaten track travel adventures in New Zealand and offer awesome travel advice, care and expertise to create fully personalised travel itineraries. We can help you have the adventure of a lifetime in the most beautiful country in the world.

All photographs are copyright of Nicola Barnard Photography.

Categories: New Zealand, North Island, Photo Of The Day | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Guest post: 10 Non-Touristy Things To Do In Auckland – New Zealand

Today, and for the first time, I am sharing a guest post on my blog. This is written by Benjamin Tong who runs A Short Term Rental website, which specialises in short term rentals all around the world. I felt this post would be incredibly useful and interesting for anyone keen to experience the best Auckland has to offer, away from the busy typical tourist attractions.


10 Non-Touristy Things To Do in Auckland – New Zealand. By Benjamin Tong.

“Auckland is synonymous with sailing, the Blues, Waiheke island, and the unfortunate term of four seasons in one day. All of which are pretty important clues for understanding what makes the Auckland region unique from other cities in NZ.

Sailing is a favorite past-time with an incredible 1 in 3 Auckland’s owning a boat, that’s higher than most cities car ownership statistics. With fantastic access to the ocean, Aucklanders love nothing more than being out on the water.

Aucklanders have a difficult relationship with their regional rugby team, with their performance in recent years being nothing to brag about. This is a little unfortunate as they love to talk rugby, fortunately the national team the famous All Blacks are still world class.

Waiheke island is Auckland’s island getaway, warmer and less rainfall than the mainland it is said to have it’s own microclimate. Waiheke is about relaxation, wine, artists and multi million dollar weekend/holiday homes.

Few cities in New Zealand can boast four seasons in one day – nor perhaps would many want to. Auckland more regularly than many would like, produces crazy weather patterns making in sometimes impossible to ‘dress for the conditions'”.

Check out the infographic below for 10 of the best non touristy things to do on your Auckland trip. 

Non-Touristy Things To Do In Auckland By Short Term Renting
Courtesy of: Short Term Renting
Categories: Activities, Food, Guest Post, New Zealand, North Island | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Memories of New Zealand at Christmas

Queen Street Santa

Queen Street Santa being constructed in Dec 2013

Santa in 1960

Santa in 1960

Despite not living in New Zealand any more I still like to keep up with the news and recently one Christmas-related story in particular caught my eye. It was about the famous big Santa who lives on Queen Street in Auckland around Christmas time. I remember the first time, when walking through Auckland that we clapped eyes on the 18 metre height Santa. They were in the process of constructing Santa in his usual spot above Whitcoulls. Being a huge fan of Christmas I instantly loved it! And although some feel it is over the top and extravagant I think it is unique and memorable!

The story I refer to explains how the funding was cut for the big Santa and as such he would not be appearing in his usual home on Queen Street. Yet just the very next day the NZ Herald then reported that in fact big Santa had been saved by funding offers from an Auckland property development firm and SkyCity.

Santa himself has a long history on Queen Street and in fact was first constructed (with a somewhat different look to nowadays) back in 1960 above the original Farmers building on Queen Street.

The New Zealand Herald are calling it an Auckland miracle – brilliant! 🙂

A festive Auckland sky tower

A festive Auckland sky tower

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

Thinking about this made me remember our time in the weeks leading up to Christmas that we spent in Auckland back in December 2012 – including seeing the beautiful Christmas lights on the famous Franklin Road. We took a walk through Auckland to look at them one night, and also witnessed the Sky Tower lit up so beautifully!

We were then lucky enough to spend our first kiwi Christmas with my family who flew over from both the UK and Australia to be with me and my husband. We enjoyed an amazing traditional UK Christmas dinner cooked by my Mum in our gorgeous holiday home we had rented overlooking Queenstown lake. Lovely memories 🙂

Family Christmas in NZ

Family Christmas in New Zealand

Categories: Christmas, New Zealand, North Island, Photographs, South Island | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Treehouse anyone?

Our treehouse in Auckland

Our treehouse in Auckland

So for the next stage of our amazing New Zealand Adventure we have been living in Auckland – and staying in a beautiful ‘treehouse’ in Ponsonby. We are renting it from an amazing woman called Beth who runs the nearby B&B 23 Hepburn street. It really is one of the loveliest places we have ever stayed! We have been here for a couple of weeks working from home and enjoying Auckland’s sights before the next chapter of our adventure begins on Weds – more about that in another post!

It has lovely views over beautiful Western Park and is really spacious and sunny inside. It has also been quite an experience staying here during the storms that recently hit New Zealand. Whilst Auckland actually seemed to get off lightest (they have had crazy amounts of snow on the South island and a massive storm in Wellington) we still had our own storm here in Auckland. On Thursday night we had thunder, lightning, very strong winds and torrential rain and hail. Luckily there was no damage and we watched the storm come in from our huge windows in our treehouse.

Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor

Treehotel in Sweden – photo courtesy of Trip Advisor

Anyway, I was also recently sent an email from Tripadvisor highlighting Top 10 treetop hotels so I thought it was perfect the perfect time to share the link for anyone interested in staying in such unique places (one is also in NZ in Kaikoura, although we haven’t yet stayed there)!:

I just thought it was interesting to collect these unique treehouses all together, and we certainly have enjoyed staying in our very own treehouse right here in Auckland! 🙂

Categories: Accommodation, New Zealand, North Island, Photographs | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The weird and wonderful world of Waiheke: insect bites, earthquakes and survival

Waiheke Island: 1st March to 5th April

Beautiful Onetangi beach

Beautiful Onetangi beach

Us on the beach

Us on the beach

We are now three weeks into our stay on Waiheke Island and I thought it was time to report on how we are finding life on an island. For those of your reading that don’t know, me and my husband are currently both working from home, and have been moving around New Zealand since our arrival back in September. We have been doing a mixture of travelling and working from home in different locations. It has been brilliant being able to work from home as we have been able to experience living in different places and seeing what life is really like. So far we have worked from home in Auckland, Queenstown and Glenorchy – and travelled round most of the country on various holidays. We decided (prior to John securing his work from home) that for these 5 weeks it would be good to be near Auckland in case John needed to do IT contract work. It just so happens the company he works for are amazing and have let him work from anywhere. Still, we had already booked our holiday house here in Waiheke and flew up here from Glenorchy on Friday 1st March. The reason we decided to live up here in Waiheke is after loving our day visit we took back in December, which I blogged about here – we loved the walk we took exploring the gorgeous beaches.

We have discovered – as with most places actually – living here is very different! Don’t get me wrong we love Waiheke and it will be one of the most memorable parts of our New Zealand adventure – just for many different reasons! Let me start with the things we love about living here:

  • Tui Cottage

    Tui Cottage

    Our lovely little Tui Cottage – despite a few negatives (see below) that are ‘island’ issues – we really love our holiday house. It does have a few quirks (the washing machine is under the house, and has to have the hose pumping water out of it connected into a tube that flows out of the door and onto the garden! And it only has cold water!), but we really do feel quite at home here. It is small and cosy and actually just the right size for me and John. The furnishings are lovely, the TV a nice size, and it has a nice comfortable bed. It is also in a good location in the small town of Surfdale – with a great little bakery, convenience shop and a water tank giving out free water! (water comes at a premium on the island – see below!) and only a 10 minute walk to the gorgeous Little Oneroa beach. It also has on ocean view from the kitchen window!

  • The beaches – they are simply stunning, and pretty much deserted! We live a 5 minute walk from the south facing Surfdale beach, and a short walk from the beautifully sandy north-facing beaches of Oneroa and Little Oneroa. We have also visited Onetangi beach, which we think is our favourite – the biggest on the island – which was incredible! The sand was a gorgeous colour, with the beautiful sea lapping at the shores – which had enticed a few swimmers when we visited a few weeks ago.

    Little Oneroa beach

    Little Oneroa beach

  • Pizza on the beach! Yes really! There is a small ‘mobile’ pizza place right on Little Oneroa beach – called Dragonfired. They have won a few awards, and serve up delicious wood fired organic pizza from their amazing wood fired oven. Quite unique!
  • Pizza on the beach

    Pizza on the beach

    Waiheke’s ‘quaint’ appeal – Just taking a walk into Surfdale’s shops yesterday we came across someone running a garage sale from a little shop they own – complete with an awesome book on ships and a fax machine! We also saw someone that appeared to be taking their horse for a walk 🙂

  • The birds – staying in Tui Cottage we are frequently visited by tuis and other native birds in our lovely gardens.
  • The peace and quiet – obviously there is a general level of day to day noise, but in general Waiheke is a nice and peaceful place.

However there have also been some things that have been an ‘experience’:

  • John and our water tank!

    John and our water tank!

    The water situation – before booking our holiday house I rather ignorantly didn’t know that Waiheke island doesn’t have a mains water supply! So everyone has their own water tank that stores the water they use, and as such we have to be really careful and conserve water wherever possible. You also get the odd occasion where brown water comes out the tap – which happened to me when I was brushing my teeth – nice!

  • One of my swollen insect bites

    One of my swollen insect bites

    Insect bites – this has been a real problem for me if I am honest. Despite using excellent insect repellant I have been repeatedly bitten by mossies and other creatures (I am still not sure what!). Some of the bites I had were really very bad, and got really red and swollen (see a pic I took as they were calming down!). I probably had about 16 bites at one point, and 4 of them were very bad. I used all of the right stuff on them though and luckily they calmed down. I think I had an allergic reaction or something to them.

  • Adolf


    The cars – we rented a very old car from someone on arrival (who I won’t name as he lacked any customer service skills at all unfortunately) that didn’t appear to be at all roadworthy (we nicknamed the car Adolf, as it was evil!). Its speedometer and fuel gauge were broken and part of it appeared to be falling down underneath, but we stuck with it for a weekend and it just about managed to get us around the island without breaking down. I must admit we weren’t sad to see it go!

  • Food – those of you who know me will know I am a fussy eater (yes really) and we have struggled quite a bit to find food I can eat on the island. The supermarket isn’t really that big, and has a limited selection of food. Other than the pizza place on the beach there isn’t really anywhere we enjoy eating out either. So we have enjoyed little breaks in Auckland to stock up on eating meals out!
  • Ants – eek! Yes the whole island is swarming with them and this is one of the only down sides with our lovely little cottage – ants. We have become incredible clean freaks staying here, and clean up every crumb and bit of food after eating, clean all the time and empty bins, and still get ants. We think they are part and parcel of the island and are learning to live with them.
  • Earthquakes – whilst not Waiheke’s fault we experienced two small earthquakes while we were here – read more about them on a previous blog posting here.
  • Banshee bird – that is what we call him. We haven’t heard him lately but a little pain of a birdie decided to take up home outside our house for a few evenings and made THE loudest squawking noises possible for a small bird. Nothing (tv, music etc.) was able to drown him out. Hopefully he has found a new home far far away and won’t be back 🙂

We are currently in Auckland for a night’s break to go to the cinema and a nice meal – only we can take a holiday in Auckland from Waiheke! It is usually the other way round!

So those are our successes and trials and tribulations of living on Waiheke, and with just over 2 weeks to come I am sure there are more in store!

Categories: Accommodation, Activities, New Zealand, Photographs | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Earthquakes hit Auckland – March 17th 2013!

Cracks in a driveway following Auckland's earthquake - photo from NZ Herald

Cracks in a driveway following Auckland’s earthquake – photo from NZ Herald

It was a normal Sunday afternoon on Waiheke island when, at 4.01pm the first of two earthquakes hit!

The first was a 3.1 on the richter scale striking at 4.01pm. This shook our house a fair amount and was the first earthquake we have experienced here in New Zealand. This was then followed by a stronger earthquake 4 mins later at 4.05pm – which was a 3.9, and fairly shallow at only 6km deep. This time the house shook a lot more, and it lasted longer – probably around 15-30 seconds. This made us pretty scared! It really felt this time like the earthquake wasn’t going to stop and we looked at each other in shock. It was classed as a ‘moderate’ strength earthquake by the geonet website – see more details here. Over 10,000 people in the Auckland area reported feeling it. It is also the largest in the region since 2007.

Read the NZ Herald’s report of it here.

Once it had stopped we immediately started looking online for earthquake plans and what to do if an earthquake hits (it makes you realise how little you know). We know earthquakes are fairly rare in this area but we were worried another even stronger one was going to hit. We read the advice to ‘drop, cover and hold’ and also allocated an area in our holiday house which might be safest for us. This might seem over the top but until you have experienced an earthquake – even a small one – it is hard to know how scary and helpless you feel. It is completely our of your hands and you are completely at the mercy of nature.

We know these were only very small earthquakes, especially compared to Christchurch, which was obviously on our minds and it made us think and realise – clearly only a tiny amount – how scary and awful the earthquakes that hit there must of been, and how horrible it must have been for all of the people.

So putting things in perspective we know it was nothing compared to the Christchurch tragedies, but it is certainly newsworthy for this part of New Zealand! Facebook groups had popped up within minutes dedicated to ‘I survived the Auckland earthquake!’. Many many people had taken to twitter and #auckland was even trending. It certainly was big news, and something we won’t easily forget!

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Glen Hansard + Lisa Hannigan in Auckland = incredible!

Me and my husband went over to Auckland on the ferry from Waiheke Island last night (where we are currently living – I will post separately about our Waiheke experiences!) to see Glen Hansard and Lisa Hannigan play at Auckland Town Hall as part of the Auckland Arts Festival – and we had an amazing time!

In Aotea Square

In Aotea Square

It was really nice to see Auckland again after almost 2 weeks of being over here on the island. We had a lovely pre-concert meal at Jack Tar – one of our favourite places to eat. We then had a nice wander round the Festival gardens outside the town hall and sat on the steps in Aotea Square. Soon the time had come for the concert to start and we headed in to find out seats. We had chosen seats in the circle area, so were in the front row of overlooking the stage – and had a good view. Just after 8pm the lights went down and the small figure of Lisa Hannigan wearing a pretty pinky/orage dress stepped onto the stage. With her quiet Irish voice she said hello and thanked everyone for the warm welcome.

Our view

Our view

I was utterly captivated from the first note she sang on the opening song – the amazing ‘Little Bird’. Singing most of the songs acoustic on her guitar and ukulele her voice was just so raw, haunting and absolutely note perfect. After listening to both her albums intensively over the last few days she really did bring every single song to life – and add many new dimensions to the studio recordings. The crowd were really behind her and seemed to be there as much to see her as Glen. She didn’t speak as much as Glen did (more about that later) but when she did her stories were interesting and funny – she told about how she had visited Waiheke island yesterday (as Glen had) and how she was enjoying her time here in NZ. She also made a brilliantly funny link between her song ‘Safe Travels (Don’t Die)’ and her touring and travelling in this part of the world. Her 40 minute set flew by all too quickly, but her voice was incredible and its amazing quality of tone and her heartfelt passion for her music really left a lasting impression and one we will always remember.

Soaking in the pre-concert atmosphere

Soaking in the pre-concert atmosphere

Following a short break Glen and his band ‘The Frames’ also supported by 3 local string instrumentalists appeared and took their places on the stage. What followed was an amazing couple of hours of music. Glen has been busking and touring since he was a lot younger and has been with The Frames for over 22 years. He was also part of the very successful ‘The Swell Season’ with Margeta Irglova who made a film together called ‘Once’ for which they won an Oscar for the song ‘Falling Slowly’. Glen was also asked to write some music inspired by the book ‘The Hunger Games’ which was later included in the film, and one of which we were lucky to hear last night. The set covered songs spanning his long and varied career – enough to keep everyone in the crowd happy for whatever reason they were there. There were certainly more cheers for his Swell Season material as this was more well-known. Many of his songs made use of his band, building to a full and rich sound. In many actually Glen bordered on playing his guitar manically as his passion was clear to see! He himself admitted though that the acoustics of the hall meant the quieter songs sounded better – and I would have to agree. The songs where it was just him and his guitar or ukelele (for which he thanked Eddie Vedder) were probably the best. He also encouraged a sing-along in which the audience participated beautifully. Glen was very engaged with the full and enthusiastic audience (it was virtually a sell-out) and told many stories during his set, including one rather entertaining tale of a boat trip out into Dublin harbour last year which involved crashing onto some rocks near a lighthouse! He introduced many songs explaining the inspiration behind them, and this really added to the already pure and heartfelt music.

To the only slight complaint I can have is that the last ferry back to Waiheke wasn’t late enough!! The reason? We had to leave before the concert was over and as such since reading reviews apparently Glen and Lisa duetted on Glen’s most famous song ‘Falling Slowly’. It was a shame to have missed this but we had to get back to the island and also read that he played for over 3 hours (his set was due to be 1 hour 30!) so we simply couldn’t have stayed until the end. All that we heard was memorable though and we are so glad we went.

Both Glen and Lisa were simply incredible. Being a fan of The Swell Season and Glen for so long, surprisingly I think I enjoyed seeing Lisa a little more and have definitely discovered one of my new favourite artists.

Another New Zealand night never to forget and one which will remain long in the memory.

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Christmas Lights in Auckland

Christmas Lights on Franklin Road in Auckland

Franklin Road Christmas Lights

On Tuesday night we took a walk through Auckland’s streets to Franklin road – which is famous for being lined with amazing Christmas lights. It certainly was a brilliant sight! The lights were absolutely amazing – almost all of the houses were completely covered in lights and decorations and it was stunning. The atmosphere was also really lovely, with loads of people wandering up and down to look at the lights and taking photos. I was also able to take a couple of pictures of the Sky Tower which was ‘festively’ lit up in red and green and looked amazing. I have included photos of some of my favourite houses below. It certainly got me in the Christmas mood so roll on Christmas!

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Wonderful Waiheke

Saturday December 1st – Spending the official start of summer on Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island

Arriving at Waiheke IslandWhat a wonderful way to spend the first official day of summer over here in New Zealand – on the wonderful Waiheke Island! I am posting this retrospectively about the time we spent on Waiheke a few weeks ago. We took the ferry from Auckland ferry terminal (costing $35 each – but well worth the cost!) and taking about 40 minutes. It was a lovely ferry ride, with gorgeous views all around of Auckland’s CBD, Devonport and other scenery. There were loads of lovely little boats out fishing and the time flew by. On arrival we decided we wanted to do our own thing on Waiheke and explore. The alternative was getting on a bus with a whole group of others and being driven round on a ‘tour’. Those who know us know we try and avoid tours where possible and really prefer to explore as much as we can and have our own adventures! So we decided on a loop walk to see some of Waiheke’s highlights and off the beaten track parts.

Owhanake Bay 3

So we took a walk from Matiatia bay, where the ferry comes in and headed to Owhanake bay. We climbed up high to begin (as the path round by the coast was only accessible at high tide) and soon experienced wonderful views. We could see Rangitoto and Auckland’s CBD. What was lovely is that straight away as people hired cars and got on the bus, we walked a short distance and were immediately in the middle of beauty with peace and quiet – it was great! We further explored and really enjoyed the beauty of Owhanake bay. We then headed to Fossil bay which was deserted and very quiet. Climbing higher again we had yet more sweeping views of the surrounding area. This walk took us along the coast and through vineyards, as we arrived at Oneroa beach. Here we took a nice walk along the beach – again really quiet despite being a Saturday! There was some kind of Christmas event going on in Oneroa so it was pretty busy but we found a lovely fish and chip shop and had some food here overlooking the beach. We then headed back to the ferry terminal to take the 3pm ferry home.

Oneroa Beach 2It really is an incredibly beautiful island and I would recommend anyone visiting Auckland should definitely take a trip here – for as long as you can fit into your itinerary! It is also quite a popular place for commuters who work in Auckland to live, as they get the gorgeous beaches and relaxed lifestyle on Waiheke but can work and earn money in the city. Apparently houses are pretty reasonable on the island too! Who knows, it may even become a future option me and John, depending on where we end up 🙂 Verdict on Waiheke – one of Auckland’s real highlights, and a real chance to explore!

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Delightful Devonport

Saturday 24th/Sunday 25th November: Parnell and Devonport

View from North Head or Rangitoto

Roses 2

I have got a little behind with my normal posts – while I was doing my Top 5 series of holiday highlights. So thought I would get back on track with a posting about the weekend before last which we spent exploring Parnell and Devonport. On Saturday we took a walk from our apartment up to Parnell, which is a lovely older suburb of Auckland. We grabbed a pizza from Crust (our favourite) which was delicious, and took a walk through Alberon Reserve on the way to Parnell Rose Gardens. The roses here were beautiful and it was a really lovely collection – see some photos I took at the end of my gallery below.

View of Auckland from North HeadOn Sunday we took the ferry from Auckland ferry terminal to Devonport (costing only $11 for a return each and taking about 15 minutes). The sun was shining brightly as we arrived and we enjoyed the walk along the coast up towards North Head. The scenery around here was gorgeous and we stopped on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach for lunch. The surrounding views as we walked around North Head were stunning – especially of Rangitoto island and the Auckland sky line. There were also some old war tunnels remaining which we had fun exploring. We would definitely like to return (time permitting!) and explore some more of this wonderful area.

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A New Zealand Adventure Update

Auckland harbour skyline

So I haven’t written an update in quite a while on how our life is going living over here in New Zealand. We are still living in Auckland at the moment, with an exciting Christmas adventure to look forward to.

When I last wrote we had been living in Auckland a short while and have now been here 6 weeks (tomorrow). I thought I would draw on some of the points I addressed in my first post I wrote when we arrived in Auckland – covering topics to consider and think about as a UK person living in NZ.

Work/Jobs: We are over here on working holiday visas, which enables us to work over here – with a few limitations. My husband, John, is a Software Developer and has been contracting back home, working on a daily rate, with more flexible contracts. So it seemed like a natural progression for him to look for similar work over here. We found that Auckland had the most work of that kind, so John applied for jobs. He did get a job incredibly quickly actually! He started looking for jobs on the Saturday (mostly using Seek), applied for a job on the Sunday, got a call that day about it, went for an interview on Monday and started on Tuesday! It is working for a great advertising agency here in the city working on big brands such as Coca Cola and Cadbury. He was initially given a 2 week contract with the view to extending it until Christmas – which they did. So he is working there up until Christmas now, and with a good daily rate so we are able to live quite comfortably. Regarding my work situation I am currently working on self employed projects working from home. I have actually started my own business – very very recently – which will be a travel consultancy business helping people wishing to travel to New Zealand. It is still in the REALLY early stages but I am giving it a go because am really passionate about it, and really feel I can help people have their own amazing New Zealand Adventures! I will post more about my business as I go and develop it. Two people who have been fundamental in helping start this are my sister, Kat, (marketing guru, who runs her own business called Thought Cloud) and my husband John – an amazing web and software developer. So with their help and support I hope I can build something successful that I can be proud of.

View from Auckland waterfront apartmentAccommodation: Since I last wrote we have moved from the Celestion Apartment to an apartment on Auckland’s waterfront. We got a reduced rate for committing to a month which is good. Our apartment overlooks the water and the Auckland harbour bridge which is nice. We are right at the end of Princes Wharf in the centre, so very close to everything in the centre (including the ferry terminal) but it is also really quiet which is the perfect combination. It is a nice place to work at home from and I enjoy watching the boats that pass the window during the day, and especially watching all the sailboats out in the evening, if the weather is nice. The sunsets from here are also pretty spectacular – see my photos! The one thing I would say about accommodation is that unless you can commit to somewhere long-term (at least 3 months and most likely 6 months) then you will have to still pay a fairly high nightly rate. Places like Gumtree and Trade Me are only really useful for accommodation of a longer length. And with the uncertainty we had over John’s job we haven’t been able to commit to Auckland long-term so have been paying more nightly rates through our time here. We are ok with this as like leading a fairly nomadic lifestyle for now, and also it gives us the flexibility to go pretty much where we want to after Christmas! We are just finalising our plans for after the New Year so will post soon after everything has been sorted 🙂

Phone/Internet: As I posted before we got a great deal on our phones with Telecom and have been making do with internet. We are paying a reduced rate for internet at our accommodation so it isn’t too bad. NZ is definitely behind the UK in terms of good cheap internet options though!

Tax registration: My husband has registered with the IRD – which he did within about a week of starting work. It was fairly simple to do – he just filled out the relevant form, and took his ID and supporting documents to a local post shop so he could have it sent off. Then he called up the tax office to obtain his number, which he gave to his employer so is being taxed correctly.

Bank/Money: We have been into our local Westpac and picked up our NZ account debit cards which is quite exciting! Now John is being paid in NZ dollars we have been using this more than relying on trying to access our UK money all the time.

Travel: We have used the transport system a fair bit – taking the train to Mount Smart stadium to see Coldplay, buses to Mission Bay and the zoo and ferries to Devonport and Waiheke, plus a few other trips. We have got used to it now, but Auckland is quite a sprawling city, so you can’t easily walk everywhere (which is a shame, as this is something we like to do wherever possible!).

Food: We have been living relatively cheaply, although with groceries costing a fair bit more than back in the UK this has been interesting at times! We have been using the local Countdown as it is walkable and usually buy things on offer there. We have also discovered a lovely takeaway pizza place called Crust – based in Parnell, and do order the odd takeaway every now and again for there as a treat.

I would add one more category and that is:

Weather: Obviously we are dealing with opposite seasons to the UK over here, so summer officially started on 1st Dec. We had a really lovely hot weekend just gone, and have had a lot of sun, but like the UK the weather is also quite unpredictable and prone to a fair bit of rain! Whilst I write this I am sat looking out at a big storm that is hitting Auckland with torrential rain, causing flooding. The news has also reported a tornado has hit Auckland, really sadly resulting in some fatalities just a few miles from here. It is quite scary when things like that happen just on your doorstep. It has also been strange being in a much warmer climate in the lead up to Christmas – as for me Christmas is associated with cold and snow! So it just doesn’t feel as Christmassey as usual.

Waiheke IslandOverall then we are really enjoying our New Zealand Adventure. To be completely honest Auckland was never our ‘favourite’ place in NZ when we visited in the past, so it wasn’t our first choice of place to live. However, as I am sure many people realise, you need money to be able to survive and travel so it has made sense to live here and make some money (as well as pay off some of the money we spent travelling in the first 5 weeks when we arrived here!) – at least up until Christmas. After that we plan to hopefully head back to South island – work permitting – and have some more adventures. We have tried to make the most of everyday we are here and Auckland has really grown on us over the time we have spent here. Visiting delightful Devonport and wonderful Waiheke (which I hope to post about soon) has really helped, as they are such beautiful places and nice places to get away from the hustle and bustle of the CBD. Waiheke is especially gorgeous and a really lovely place to visit.

Also, as my previous post mentioned my parents are coming over from the UK for Christmas (and my sister is also flying over from Sydney) so we will all be together in Queenstown, which I really can’t wait for. I have missed my parents a lot since leaving the UK in September so it will be wonderful to see them and spend the Christmas season as a family. Lots to look forward to and with many more adventures to come! 🙂

I have posted a few pictures I have taken around Auckland in the last few weeks that didn’t fit into any of my other posts below (I have many more yet to post for Devonport and Waiheke):

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Coldplay come to Auckland!

Saturday 10th November: Coldplay gig in Auckland

And what an incredible show they put on! Being a massive Coldplay fan I was really excited to hear they would be playing in Auckland – especially as they hadn’t been here in years. Having already seen them 4 times before in the UK I wasn’t sure what to expect and whether the show could top the most recent time I saw them at Wembley Stadium – but it certainly did! More about that to follow . . .

My sister, Kat – currently living in Sydney – came over to Auckland to spend the weekend with us and we had a great time. She arrived on Friday afternoon and we, along with John, enjoyed a lovely meal at Jar Tar. There was a British guy there playing his guitar and singing who was pretty good! This was followed by a nice walk along to the harbour front by ‘The Cloud’. On Saturday we checked out of the apartment we were staying in to check in at our posh hotel – Stamford Plaza. Finding accommodation for this busy night in Auckland was tough but we had lucked out in booking into the Stamford Plaza – under their “Celebration Plus’ package! The hotel was really impressive with great customer service and the extras as part of the package were great (including robes to take home, slippers, luxury toiletries and headbands!). The high tea provided free was the best part of all and (after going out for a nice breakfast in the morning) we really enjoyed this in the afternoon – we were presented with a lovely selection of sweets, cakes and sandwiches, free hot drinks and bubbly. It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon! We headed to the Britomart station to catch the train to Mount Smart Stadium. We got free travel included with our tickets which was good and getting the train there was pretty smooth. The train took about half an hour and it took about 20 minutes to walk to the stadium from the station. Kat and myself decided to buy souvenir Coldplay tshirts to remember the occasion. We had arrived early and enjoyed watching the support acts – The Pierces and Temper Trap.

Coldplay came on stage about 9pm and we were in for a real treat. The roar of the crowd greeted them and they were on brilliant form. Chris was as charming as ever and they played the gig of their lives! The fireworks that accompanied a couple of the songs were outstanding. They had clearly put so much effort into the show itself, and the addition of giving every person a different coloured wristband on arrival which then lit up at various arranged times during the show was genius! The sight of watching all the flickering colours all around the stadium was unforgettable. Other extras such as multi-coloured and multi-shaped confetti being sprayed over the crowd during certain songs also just looked stunning. Overall we sang our hearts our throughout and had a really memorable time.

The only part of the day that could have been improved was the exit from the stadium, and having been to loads of football matches back in the UK I have seen this done well! Everyone was ushered out one tiny corner and everyone then joined an incredibly long queue that spread basically all the way back to the station!! The organisation of this part of the day just seemed very poor, and that they could just not deal with this many people. However, we did not let it dampen our spirits and reminisced about the concert all the way back to the station. We also received a very happy text message from my parents which gave us a much needed boost after queuing for hours (more about that on another post!).

After arriving back at the hotel we fell asleep dreaming of Chris and the band. Our Sunday was a lovely relaxing day which included a lovely breakfast at the hotel (again included free as part our package!), enjoying a nice meal at Burger Fuel, ice cream at Movenpick and watching The Hunger Games together after checking back in to our apartment at Celestion Waldorf (which had become ‘home’) earlier in the day. As John headed off to work on Monday Kat and myself enjoyed a nice breakfast and a good chat, while she also helped me with my business start up idea (again, more to come on another post!) which was great. We then sadly said goodbye to each other as she hopped onboard the bus to the airport. I was sad to see her go but the weekend was incredible and a really memorable one!


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Mumford and Sons put on a show in Auckland!

Friday 2nd November: Mumford and Sons at the Vector Arena

We went to see Mumford and Sons play – their first gig in New Zealand – last Friday at the Vector arena and had an amazing time! Despite being huge fans me and my husband had never managed to get to see them in the UK so felt really lucky their visit coincided with our stay in Auckland. Our accommodation was just down the road from the Vector Arena and it took a mere 8 minutes from leaving our sofa in our apartment to sitting in our seats in the arena! The arena is really nice with a nice grassy area around outside with quite a few places inside to buy food and drink if you wish. We bought some water and sat around for a bit before heading in to find our seats. We weren’t early enough to see Rodney Fisher the first support, but it was Sarah Blasko (an Aussie) who was on second we were really keen to see. Being a fan of her music I was really keen to see her live – again my first time. And she didn’t disappoint! Her voice sounded absolutely fantastic live – such a rich tone to it. She also seemed really sweet, constantly thanking the crowd for their support. We were treated to around 50 minutes of her music too which was pure delight. After a short break Mumford were on next and you could feel the excitement and anticipation building from the crowd. When the time finally came Mumford and Sons walked on stage to a huge roar and proceeded to play for around 1 hour 45 minutes. The gig was incredible and they were really outstanding live. Their voices sounded so impressive and they had brought their supporting band with them who really created a full and brilliant sound. They played all the old favourites and quite a few from their stunning new album ‘Babel’ as well. The crowd seemed to be full of real fans and most people were singing along to every word. Their encore was spectacular too – leaving the ever-popular ‘The Cave’ until last. The set looked great as well with artistic fairy lights draped around the arena. The gig was over all too soon, as I have could have listened for hours more, but it really was a night to remember!

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Living in Auckland – some observations

I haven’t written in a while as have been submerging myself in Auckland life! We have been living in an apartment in Auckland city centre for a week now and I thought I would jot down some quick observations of life here. Note – this are mostly generalisations because we only have a week to base things on!:

  • In our view the weather has a big impact on our relationship with Auckland. It is one of those cities that is much nicer and lovelier when the sun is shining!
  • The harbour front is pretty and it is nice to get an ice cream (on a hot day) and sit on one of the many benches situated along the long harbour front.
  • Auckland is big! It seems to be quite a sprawling city, with lots of different suburbs and you need public transport to get anywhere outside of the city centre. The buses and trains can seem quite baffling, as it is quite a complex system but we have used them a few times and you quickly adapt.
  • It is easy to get to lovely nearby beaches – we have only visited Mission Bay so far but it was very nice.
  • It is very multicultural – with a large and very present Asian population. Very varied food places cover a huge array of international foods too.
  • There is an apparent real mix of rich and poor – right next to each other. You see lots of ‘suits’ wandering the streets and having champagne in bars, but there are also tramps (we met one when we was eating out of the bin next to us).
  • The crossings all over the city are annoying!! I don’t know why – but they just take so long to go green and they are literally everywhere! There are lots of roads and very few car free areas – hence a lot of crossings. So despite currently living right in the city centre, we still cross about 5/6 crossings to get to some of the central streets!
  • It feels like a big ‘city’ in that you don’t always feel safe and do have to have your wits about you. You do see a few gangs wandering the streets and we also witnessed a woman stealing some things from a local supermarket and being chased by security. We did also see police stopping traffic on a main road (causing chaos!) to randomly test every car for drink drivers. Plus we have to walk past the very nicely named ‘Showgirls’ (you work it out) on our short walk in to town.
  • The Sky Tower is tall! I know it is the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere but you really can see it from pretty much anywhere in the city!
  • When events are on in the city it can be hard to find accommodation. And generally most of the cheaper accommodation is either backpackers or tends to be suited to longer term stays.
  • Takeaways are cheap (this is probably true of most of NZ!). You could probably feed a small family here with the cost of just a Dominos Takeaway pizza back home.
  • Everyday groceries (bread, milk etc.) are very expensive compared to the UK. This makes cooking for yourself probably as expensive as getting takeaway! Not as unhealthy though!
  • Pizza Hut restaurants don’t exist here – only takeaways!! This will be a shock to those of you who know me and you may well ask yourself how has Nicola survived for nearly 6 weeks in a country without proper Pizza Hut?! But yes I have 🙂 I have just eaten pizza elsewhere – my favourite in Auckland being at Jack Tar.
  • And finally, for all those of you in the UK who have been missing proper Woolworths (not the food chain they have over here and in Oz) – they have a very similar shop here called ‘The Warehouse’ – it is cheap and feels like Woolsworths, so I plan to spend time in the lead up to Christmas because I used to love doing this in good old Woolies 🙂
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Mission (Bay) Impossible!

Sunday 28th October

We have had quite an eventful day in Mission Bay today! No we didn’t spot Tom Cruise but were shot at (more later!) and walked almost a marathon to get to Mission Bay!

It was a rather ordinary Sunday morning and we took the bus from the Britomart transport centre but as we approached the Mission Bay vicinity we were informed by the bus driver that the main road to Mission Bay was shut due to an Auckland marathon and that we would be dropped off some distance from Mission Bay and would have to walk! After undertaking this rather long walk we arrived at Mission Bay – and it was beautiful! The beach was lovely and it has a really nice feel to the area. There is a gorgeous park with a fountain right next to the beach. There is also a row of nice cafes and restaurants set back from the beach along the road. We spent some time in the lovely sunshine on the beach. We ate lunch at John’s favourite NZ food place – BurgerFuel! It is quite a cult food place over here – well known for it’s healthier than usual ‘fast food’. We also treated ourselves to an icecream from the equally popular Movenpick – which was some of the nicest ice cream I have tasted. Heading for the bus stop we decided to take the bus back to Auckland (this time from the usual bus stop as the road was now open). Whilst aboard the bus on the way back it seems the bus was shot at twice!!

We heard two huge ‘cracks’ while travelling on the bus and assume rocks had possibly been flicked up onto the glass but on closer inspection and discussion with the bus driver and passengers there appeared to be two bullet holes in the glass.

As there were no bullets visible and no one had been hurt John thought it might have been an air rifle. But it was clear that we were targeted but someone! The front passenger door was shot and begun to completely shatter as the bus continued its journey. One of the side windows was also shot, split into hundreds of tiny cracks but did not shatter by the time we reached our final destination (luckily not far away!). We were a little shaken up but escaped unhurt and had really enjoyed our time at Mission Bay! A quiet evening in watching Survivor on the TV beckons!

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The holiday is over but the adventure has only just begun!

Saturday 27th October onwards

I am writing this from our apartment in Auckland, with a view of the city and of the wharf in the distance. Our 5 week ‘holiday’, which begun our New Zealand adventure is now officially over. I do say this with a heavy heart and obviously we all wish our holidays could last forever. Yet I know how incredibly lucky we have been to have had such wonderful experiences. It is true though that the holiday took a huge amount of planning and organisation and it was such a success mostly because we organised and planned it all so well. The places we stayed and visited, and experiences we had were incredible. I will be working on a highlights posting for the blog over the next week, as I reflect and look back on our time here in New Zealand.

‘Reality’ though is here for us now. We want to enjoy our time we spend in NZ as much as possible and make having such great experiences as sustainable as possible. To do this the key (as with most things in life) is having money! So we know our next step needs to be to make money. There are also a number of other things that we need to think about and do over the next few weeks to make sure our start to our lives in NZ is a successful one. I have included a list below in case anyone is doing/thinking of doing anything similar or is just interested:

Work/Jobs: Our prime goal when planning our time in NZ was that my husband, John (who works as a software development contractor back home in the UK) would try and get a contract here. The most likely places for this are either Auckland or Wellington. So we have started the search ( is a really great website for all jobs over here) and he will start applying for these soon. Regarding my work situation I currently am working on some self-employed projects and will wait to look for anything else until I know where John’s work will base us.

Accommodation: We are currently staying for the week in an apartment at the Celestion Waldorf Apartment Hotel and got a very reasonable weekly night. We are here until Nov 3rd and will then plan our next accommodation once we have a better idea where we might need to be. We will either need short term more apartment type accommodation, or will start to look for something longer term (depending on where we end up).

Phone/Internet: We sorted our phones out in Auckland today, due to some very helpful people from Telecom. We had already unlocked our iPhones back in the UK, so purchased a NZ sim card and (after connecting it to iTunes in the Telecom store first) were able to use our sims right away. We also have a great deal on the sim (a prepaid or pay-as-you go option) rather than a contract, which is $19 for 60 mins of calls, 5000 texts and 500mb of data – paid each month but without a minimum term contract. We will also have to adjust to having new phone numbers! Internet is definitely more expensive over here and free wifi is not as widespread as back home. Things are a bit better in Auckland though with there being free wifi at certain places in the city, and we have a good deal with our apartment for a week’s usage. We have also purchased a Telecom 0800 calling card (Talk4Less) with a cheap rate per minute to allow us to call the UK (and speak to our families) cheaply.

Tax registration: We need to register to pay tax here in NZ to enable us to get jobs and work. To do this we need to complete IRD forms, and take these with ID and a few other bits to a post office – which we plan to do on Monday.

Bank/Money: We have already opened a NZ Westpac bank account whilst in the UK, but now we are here we can go in and after giving all the info/ID we will be able to officially activate the account and obtain debit cards etc.

Travel: The Britomart (main transport) centre here in Auckland has a very helpful information desk. We spent some time there today getting a few maps for buses and trains to enable us to visit a few places we had planned to.

Food: Our goal with food is to try and save money and live quite cheaply. There is an excellent 24 hour Countdown supermarket a 5 minute walk from our apartment, so hope to use this a lot. Obviously we will also have the odd meal out now and again!

Thanks if you have read this far – I know this post isn’t as glamourous as my previous holiday postings, but I thought it might prove useful for anyone in a similar situation.

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Great Barrier Island: a step back in time to paradise

Monday 22nd to Friday 26th October: Great Barrier Island

What a different and completely amazing experience! We spent 5 wonderful days on the remote Great Barrier Island off the coast of Auckland. It is only accessible by boat or air from Auckland, and is similar to the Coromandel Coast – after once being joined together. There are many differences between the way of life on the island and usual life in New Zealand. It was a privilege to experience this and to explore the beautiful remote and rugged island – which seems like it is a whole world of its own!

For anyone interested in going there or just for those reading generally I will be my usual honest self in explaining life on the Barrier – as I am sure you will want to know what it is really like!  We took the 8.00am ferry from Auckland and arrived on the island at about 12.45pm. As previously arranged a lady from Aotea car rentals met us with our Toyota Starlett (16 years young) and we set off on the short drive towards our accommodation at Shoal Bay Lodge. Having driven on many a crazy NZ road, the roads on the Barrier still surprised us! Almost completely single track, and many partly rough gravel our little car (named Dug because his number plate is DUG142) found his way to our accommodation where the owner Geraldine met us and showed us around our house  – Shoal Bay Lodge – for the week.

Over the course of the week we spent time exploring the island and here are some of our highlights:

  • Remote and deserted stunningly beautiful beaches. We were completely alone on all of the beaches we visited and spent time on. They really are such beautiful beaches and amongst the best we have ever been to. We think Awana Beach was probably our favourite – where we spent lunch on Wednesday in the gorgeous hot sunshine. Medlands beach was a very close second, and the most accessible and our most visited – another wonderful beach. The least accessible beach was Kaitoke beach – down a steep gravel track- but again such a beauty and really worth the trip. It is just so different to the UK where you always see other people on the beach. Here you feel like you are alone on a remote tropical island and like the only people in the world!
  • Walks – the island is famous for its numerous walking tracks and we only did just a few of these in our time here. Our favourite was the walk to the Kaitoke Hot Springs. We walked through native forest and spent time dangling our feet in the relaxing natural hot springs which was lovely. We also walked to Windy Canyon lookout (up about 188 steps – we counted!), for gorgeous views around the island.
  • Serenity – the peace is very welcome. When we watched our first sunset on our second night we just looked out at the sky and water and everything was still and peaceful and it was lovely.
  • Experiencing the beautiful scenery from roadside lookouts and general driving around the island with very little traffic.
  • The fun/different roads – windy, steep and single track (and partly rough gravel) but adventurous!
  • The birdlife – we have seen many smaller native birds (tui, brown teal) and were also very lucky to see a few of the rare North-island kaka. We also heard the little blue penguins on the beach at night.
  • The pace of life has meant for the first time on our holiday really we have been able to properly relax and enjoy going at a slower pace or just taking a few hours to read and relax.
  • Sunsets – most nights we were here we watched the sunset from our bedroom balcony and it was absolutely stunning. We also saw a few North island kaka flying around which made it even more special 🙂
  • The friendly locals – everyone we came across and spoke to was really friendly and helpful.

To ensure I provide a balanced view of the Barrier I must include some other things of note:

  • I would definitely recommend to fly rather than take the ferry to the island. We took the ferry with Sealink there but the crossing was rough (due more to the rough water – although apparently this is the second roughest stretch of water in NZ – rather than bad weather), and ended up flying back as were quite worried about being ill on the ferry back. Flying only takes 30 minutes (the ferry takes 4 hours 30!!) and it goes very often (quite a few times a day) – plus the views of the island are amazing. We flew with Great Barrier Airlines who were great. The main reason we didn’t fly in the first place was due too luggage allowance (they say there is a 15kg limit including cabin baggage, but we just paid excess for ours). If you do end up taking the ferry and get sea sick then the best place is right down the bottom of the boat at the back – this was the only place we could go to stop from being ill!
  • It is a pretty backward place! Although this can clearly be a positive as it is a little like NZ many years ago there are also a few drawbacks to this that affect everyday life.
  • Food and shops and eating out are the main one. My advice to anyone coming to the island would be to bring your own food for the duration of your time here. Many of the food places are not open for very long or at suitable hours, or are incredibly expensive, often with bookings required. The option of cooking your own food is also not great because the general stores are VERY limited with this stock and and what they do have is VERY expensive (I think we paid £5 for 2 pints of milk!). In fact, one store (Mulberry Grove store) was selling food dated 6 months out of date – scary!
  • Power – there is no mains power on the island, so everywhere relies on gas/solar and generators. We arrived at one cafe at lunchtime asking for a menu and were told that there wasn’t any food until after 4.30pm when the generator came back on, but they had coffee if we wanted it!
  • I know I put very few cars as a positive but we were still a bit surprised at the reliance on cars to get from a to b. We expected it to be suitable to walk all around to get from place to place but there are no real footpaths so you have to walk along the roads (which are dangerous enough!) so despite us trying it, walking is not a safe or viable option really!
  • Reliability of cars! Our lovely little ‘Dug’ broke down on us on a penultimate day on the island. We had parked at a remote bay South of Claris and he just wouldn’t start! We very luckily had phone signal (one of the only parts on the island) so was able to call people to come and help. They came out after about 35 mins of waiting – explaining we were also very lucky that the mechanic was on the island today! He checked the car over and the battery was completely flat (not due to anything we had done!) so he replaced it and we were ready to go again!
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A planned week in the city








I still can’t actually believe that we leave for a year in New Zealand 2 WEEKS ON SATURDAY!! It has again been quite a while since I posted but life has very much taken over in the last few weeks. We have however found time to book our 8 night stay in Auckland once we have finished our month ‘holiday’. We wanted a base in Auckland once we come back from Great Barrier Island to enable us to do lots of practical things like setting up our bank account and potentially start looking for work. We spent a huge amount of time researching where would be best to stay in Auckland and comparing many different places and prices. Being right in the city centre was important to us, and a place with reliable internet that had good reviews on Trip advisor (our bible when it comes to deciding where to stay!). We decided in the end on the Celestion Waldorf Apartments and secured a great advance rate price for 8 nights. Read the fab reviews here

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