Saturday, January 16, 2016

New Zealand Trip, Part 1: Auckland

During the holiday season, we decided to take a trip down south. We visited the North Island of New Zealand and roamed in and around Auckland and Rotorua. We arrived on the 26th of December and we were blessed with warm sunny weather. Thankfully, it is summer in December in the Southern Hemisphere because I am not so much of a sweater weather person and I don't buy into that White Christmas crap because I have already experienced how much of a bitch the cold and bitter white winter can get.

The view of Auckland from our boat on the way to Waiheke Island
Our hotel was just right at the top of Queen Street. It's a famous street with all the shops and restaurants. Right at the bottom of Queen Street, you'll find the pier, where you can book all sorts of island trips.

Boxing Day Shopping Day

Queen Street -- a mix of old and new architecture

It was a perfect day for walking. We found ourselves walking right down Queen Street and browsing the shops and most everything was on sale. It was Boxing Day, apparently.

All Christmasy in the malls

Visited an All Blacks shop but I didn't find anything interesting or wearable

We stopped by the ferry terminals at the pier to purchase some tickets for a day trip to Waiheke Island the next day. I initially wanted to go to Tiritiri Island but it was a bit faraway and most of the walking trips are not very suitable for children. We decided to go to Waiheke instead since it's the closest island from Auckland and the walks are more relaxing.

My daughter loves walking and touring

Crossing the viaduct

The pier -- where the ferry terminals are, and a sprinkling of bars and restaurants and ice cream shops

We decided to have dinner at one of the nice restaurants at Wynward Quarter, close to the Viaduct. It was nice to sit down and people watch. There were a lot of people speaking french, mostly from New Caledonia. There was a guard at the airport who spoke to me in French and asked if I'm from New Caledonia because I got so dark from all the walking we did during our stay. It's always difficult for foreign people to guess where I come from.

at a restaurant/bar called North Park close to the Wynward Quarter -- a glass of my favorite (variation of) bellini and a bottle of locally-produced rosé to share, aptly called "Middle-Earth"

Although we only spent half a day in Auckland upon arriving in New Zealand, we also spent New Year's Eve dinner back in the city, at a nice restaurant called Matterhorn, after returning from Rotorua.

It was my first time to celebrate New Year's Eve outside of my country of residence. And I realized, it's not only this fact that made this New Year celebration special and different. It's also because we celebrated New Year way ahead of everybody else I know because of the time zone. It was a bit weird.

one of the appetizers at Matterhorn Restaurant

They had a special New Year's Eve dinner menu, which was a bit pricey
The low lighting in the restaurant and the crappy iPhone camera results in food pics that look like this

The Sky Tower lit up in changing colors at night, taken with crappy iPhone
I wanted to watch the fire works from one of the hotel rooms facing the Sky Tower. But none of the rooms were available. We got the opposite side because my daughter's baby cot will not fit the other rooms. I managed to see the fireworks from down below our building, though. It was not such a cold night. I would've ventured to walk by myself closer to the Sky Tower but there were a lot of nasty looking people in the streets. It's better to be safe and stay close to the hotel.

The first day of the New Year was a bit rainy in Auckland. We thought it best to just spend the day inside the museum. And it was not such a bad idea because I totally enjoyed the Haka Performance. For those not in the know, The Haka is an ancient Maori war dance. It is used to scare off enemies during war. That's explains the weird facial contortions that they make while doing the dance. I'm guessing that's how your face will look like once they're done with you.

I find the Haka really fascinating ever since I first saw the All Blacks doing it during the 2011 Rugby World Cup. And I've been a fan since then. It was too bad that we were seated a bit far away from the stage. It would've been even nicer to see it live up close. My husband said he had goose bumps watching it. Meanwhile, my daughter was laughing out loudly the whole time.

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