We were originally scheduled to depart from Queenstown after a 3-day stay, but unfortunately, our flight was canceled and we had to take a flight the next day. We lounged around Queenstown for another day, but as we were exhausted of extreme sports and planned activities, there was not much else to do besides drink.
After the 2 hour flight from Queenstown, JR and I finally arrived in Auckland in the afternoon. Sadly, we would be leaving the next day and we didn’t have enough time to do any full-day activities. I had been very excited to go cave tubing in the Waitomo Glowworm Caves but unfortunately, there was not enough time to travel to Waitomo (driving time 2.5 hours from Auckland). Clearly, I must visit New Zealand again!
JR and I first checked into the Nomads in Auckland, located on Fort St. in the heart of downtown. Nomads is known to be a party hostel, and has a great Fusion bar so backpackers don’t have to stray too far for a good time.
We decided to take the remainder of the day to stroll around the city on foot and check out all the metropolitan sights. Auckland is the largest metropolitan area in New Zealand, with a population over 1 million. Auckland is known as the “City of Sails” due to the numerous yachts in the Waitemata Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf. The city is also known as the “City of Volcanoes” because the region is built on the Auckland Volcanic Field, which consists of 48 volcanoes. All of the volcanoes are individually extinct but the volcanic field as a whole is not.
We strolled through Albert Park, wandered around the Civic Theatre, and hung out near the Harbour. We checked out the Auckland Sky Tower, which is the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere (taller than Sydney’s), but choose not to go up to the top. Auckland is a serene city with rolling hills and a very laid-back vibe. The population here is very multi-cultural, as Auckland has the largest Polynesian population of any world city. I felt almost like I was in a mini-version of San Francisco here; even the overcast weather was similar.
That night, we hit up Nomads Fusion bar for our last night in New Zealand. JR left early the next morning, but my flight was not until later than evening, so I decided to take a half-day trip out to Rangitoto Island. Rangitoto, which means “Bloody Sky” in Maori, is a volcanic island located in the Harauki Gulf.
I signed up for the morning Fullers Rangitoto Volcanic Explorer Tour (NSD$55), which took a total of 4 hours. From the Downtown Auckland Ferry Terminal, I took a 25 minute ferry ride across the Waitemata Harbour to Rangitoto Island. Upon arrival, we boarded a 4WD road-train to take a tour around the island through the lava crops and native bush.
The train stopped at the base of the summit, and it was a short climb up to the summit from which you can enjoy the panoramic views around the rim of the crater.
We then circled around the western side of the island before heading back to the wharf for the return ferry ride. It was incredible to see all the greenery and plant life able to survive in the lava fields, only relying on rainfall for irrigation.
And here ended my 5 week journey to the Southern hemisphere! It was now time to return to NYC and to “real life” … at least until I decided to take my next trip to Singapore a few weeks later…