Auckland, New Zealand (2022)
☻ gotta make the move, gotta do what’s right for me ☻
Welcome back to my New Zealand diary! I’m writing to you after exactly one month in the country – and might I say, time feels like it has been moving pretty slowly. I guess when you uproot your life to somewhere new, each day feels like the first day of school – like you can feel every moment pass by.
For the first two weeks here, we relished our moment in the city. Auckland greeted us with blustery spring weather and amazing food. We remained quite loyal to the Auckland restaurant scene and pretty much made it our first priority – reminds me of that Jim Gaffigan bit about eating on vacation.
But seriously, the food had us in a chokehold because of how good it was. There was tons of Asian fusion, Indian, kebab, sushi takeout, bakeries, breweries, and incredible seafood. Auckland gets an A+ in diversity, and the food scene really flourishes because of it. Not to mention, everything tasted exceptionally fresh compared to what we’re used to in the States.
Besides eating, we took our time exploring the inner city and making little day trips to the outskirts. Our hostel was in the most central part of the city, so we certainly got a good feel of Auckland Central and were impressed by how welcoming it felt, even for a big city.
More than a quarter of New Zealand’s entire population resides in Auckland, so there’s quite a lot happening there (even if the total population is only 5 million to start with).
Part of why I think it felt so welcoming is because of the way it’s designed. There are plenty of small alleyways where cars can’t enter and a plethora of public parks and plazas.
Walking paths are also protected from cars, trains, etc. There are tons of little areas where you can just sit, gather with friends, or simply be – without having to spend money to chill at a restaurant, bar, or cafe.
One evening I took a solo walk through the city’s parks and all of the different trails, nature reserves, and botanical gardens located on the University of Auckland’s grounds. I was struck by how beautiful and taken care of everything was. Even in the heart of the city, there is a sense of utmost respect for nature.
Jace and I both really like walking through neighborhoods and getting a feel for how people live, especially in new countries. Ponsonby was a lovely little corner of Auckland, with its sprawling suburbs that overlook the city center below. From what I’ve read, Ponsonby used to be the cultural epicenter for Pacifika and Maori people, and there are still many fighting to keep the suburbs brown. It’s interesting to see that, like many regions bull-dozed by colonialism, New Zealand also has its fair share of gentrification.
With the unpredictability of the early spring weather, we made the most of the sunny days. On one beautiful, clear Sunday, we took the ferry over to another small island across from Auckland called Waiheke. We didn’t have a car but were surprised to find a well-integrated bus system on the island (all of Auckland’s public transport was fantastic, by the way).
We took the bus a few minutes up the hill and then explored the rest of the way on foot. We stopped by a winery for a glass, got fish and chips, explored all of the little beaches, and mosied around in adorable hippie shops. Waiheke Island felt like the first glimpse of what we’ll soon experience with van life and the more rural areas of New Zealand ❤
We also fulfilled our duties as tourists and went to hot spots like Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium. I don’t usually like visiting things like aquariums or zoos, but this aquarium was really quite impressive. The structure is a revitalized wastewater plant, so there was an abundance of underground waterways already built. It felt like we were entering an underwater world of its own – everything was quite spacious for the sea life.
Another tourist stop was the historical village, which gave us a glimpse of how European settlers set themselves up in their early days of being here. Despite its horrors and injustices, colonialism still happened in New Zealand (and it’s still considered a British Commonwealth country to this day).
Thankfully, there are many reparations being made to the Maori natives to restore land, language, and sacred practices. We are already learning the Maori language because it’s somewhat of a standard here; many towns have even reverted back to their Maori name, so it’s essential to know Maori pronunciations unless you want to sound like an idiot.
For example, how would you pronounce this town’s name? Whangamata
It’s pronounced fang·uh·ma·tah. Emphasis on the last syllable.
If you’ve made it to the end, thank you for sharing my first glimpse of New Zealand with me. What do you think? Was it what you expected? Comment your thoughts below or shoot me an email at email@example.com.
Lastly, here are my favorite Auckland snaps:
(I really need a reason to make some big prints of these)