New Zealand’s largest city (and its inhabitants) gets a bit of a ribbing from the rest of the country, and indeed, on my first visit to Auckland (and the North Island), I wasn’t a fan. It was big, and it was busy; it bustled and it moved at twice the speed of any other city I’d been to, and it took so long to get anywhere. However, landing there after almost two years in England, my thoughts were completely different. I liked it; it seemed small, slow and quiet compared to London, Paris, Barcelona and the other large cities we’d seen, but familiar in its size and spread.
On that first visit, I merely passed through, stopping briefly at an outlet store mall making our way up the country to much, much quieter climes.The second time was while staying with friends in Hamilton; we went shopping and had lunch in the big smoke before almost missing our flight back to Dunedin.
On the third visit, Tall and I were on our way back to Dunedin to get married, stopping for a few days to attend the sun-soaked wedding of his best man.We stayed in the centre of the city and travelled to beautiful Kumeu for the wedding; we strolled the waterfront, stared up at the Sky Tower, and did a spot of shopping on Queen Street. We gorged ourselves on snapper and other fresh seafood, and celebrated Valentines Day with an impromptu meal at an upstairs restaurant overlooking the city centre. We soaked up sun, caught up with friends, and enjoyed a few days of relaxing and getting reacquainted with the kiwi accent.
On our fourth visit we stayed with the aforementioned married-two-weeks-before-us couple during the Rugby World Cup (mere days before I got pregnant with Pickle!), so Tall could attend a game with his dad and sister. We took Tiny and our friends’ oldest boy to Auckland Zoo, and Ambury Park – a regional farm in walking distance from their house. We explored Queens Wharf and played around the fantastic Wynyard Quarter; we visited The Cloud, and caught up with a dear friend I’d worked with in London (who had, funnily enough, gone to kindergarten with my husband, in a tiny, tiny little village in the ‘Naki. Yes, you read that right. I met her in London, and she knew my husband. Small. World!). We ate at Genghis Khan Mongolian BBQ Buffet, which was….an experience, and watched Tiny and his new friend ride bikes on the driveway.
I may be one of the only South Islanders who actually likes Auckland, but I do. I truly do.