Auckland, New Zealand
What a day exploring the glow worm caves. It was then time to head north to Auckland- a two and a half hour journey. We had debated staying nearby Waitomo, expecting to be tired from the physical activity but we decided to get it over with. Luckily once past a certain point, the drive turned into actual highway driving and made it to Auckland just over two hours. Our Airbnb host greeted us and showed us to our room- another wonderfully appointed Airbnb. For having stayed in so many on this trip, the fact that they were all amazing is quite an achievement! We had no problem falling asleep after an exhilarating day.
Our last time driving the car! We had to return the car at 8AM in the city so we left with the plan of getting breakfast in town shortly after.
Driving around Auckland is very different than all of our other driving over the trip- I can’t imagine having picked up the car here and attempted to navigate not just the city but left sided driving. I am so happy we did all of this in Queenstown. By this point, we were pros at the left side driving so navigating was our only focus.
Dropping the car of was an easy process… I can’t believe that fast we were saying good bye to the car! We started this journey with 25,572km and the odometer at the end was 27,642km. An incredible 2,070km (1286 miles) of New Zealand.
Kevin found Cali Press just a few blocks away for acai bowls which we both enjoyed. The Cacao Crunch had a blend of coconut water, acai, banana, blueberry, raspberry, and cacao; topped with cacao bunches, banana, blueberry, peanut butter, and coconut.
A great balance of fruit and granola, not sweet, and a great flavor of acai. Happy campers!
After a trip full of activity, we decided to treat ourselves to a day of wine tasting with NZ Wine Pro!
Read the details of our wine tour!
This wine tour was the perfect way to spend a rainy day. We returned back to downtown around 5PM with happy hour in full swing.
Ready for a snack, it was time for an ice cream break. In looking for things to do in Auckland, there was an overwhelming recommendation for Giapo.
Giapo provides a unique ice cream experience. With a constant line out the door, you enter in small groups to try all the ice cream flavors, about ten flavors. Unfortunately you need to depend on your fellow group mates to not double dip and with a few kids, the inevitable occurs. We ended up skipping out early (double dipping disaster) since we knew the flavors we wanted and did not want to delay.
Kevin ordered the “Kiwi as” Afghan Cookies with Cornflakes Chocolate Crunchy Cookies and I ordered the Chocolate Evolution with Cocoa Nibs, Choc Mousse, Dark Chocolate.
These were the most extravagant and artistic ice cream cones we have even gotten! The chocolate corn flakes on Kevin’s was so delicious and mine was just my chocoholic dream. They make the cones in a separate area and all you see are the final product. There are also tons of add on’s for your ice cream delight. Be aware these are definitely the most expensive ice cream cones we have ever ordered. Each cone starts at $10 and then goes up from there. Definitely a fun and delicious experience!
We explored the harbor enjoying the city life, admiring all the different dining options. Everything was vibrant, reminding us of an extreme version of Wellington.
We casually walked around hoping to be inspired by something. What happened was the multitude of choices ended up killing us from making one. I had a star on the map for Cotto where they make fresh pasta at about 30 minute walk. The rain was holding up and the ice cream still had us full enough for the journey.
Arriving at 7:30PM, we were told it was over an hour wait to get seated. We were both a little stunned since I had not expected this place to be popular since it was so far out of the city center. Tables were turning over and I was willing to take the risk, estimating being seated within a half hour. For some reason the hour wait made me want to stay more. Kevin put our name in and we sat on a bench, reflecting on our last night in New Zealand, everything on this trip, and waited.
We saw table after table flip and get filled shortly after. Approaching 8:15PM, Kevin asked where we were in the line for seating and timing was great cause it was our turn. We sat down eager for our patient meal!
The menu is simple, separated into three price points- dishes for $5, $15, and $20 with a variety of small plates and pastas.
Having seen so many dishes circulate around, we knew we were be starting out with the Chickpea Smoked Mozzarella Chips with Almond Aioli.
These look exactly like mozzarella sticks and the aioli definitely had garlic giving it great complimentary flavors.
This would be a great spot to do with a large group so you can order many dishes to try them all.
Kevin and I both ended up ordering the same pasta- a rare occurrence but it was impossible to pass up! Tortelloni with sweetcorn, pancetta, taleggio, and chives.
My, oh my, this was devine! Fresh pasta stuffed with cheese and the sweetness of the corn with the salt of the pancetta- fantastic combination. So while collectively we only tried two items on the menu, it was well worth the walk and the wait. Thank you for a wonderful last meal in New Zealand, Cotto!
As the rain began to pick back up and we were still a bit of a distance from our Airbnb, the staff kindly hooked us up with the Wifi so we could grab an uber home.
Our final day of this two week adventure… how on earth did that happen??? We did so much and this trip was so full of the wonderful things New Zealand has to offer but it could not be time to leave.
We packed up our things for the last time on this trip, recollecting our we jenga’ed the items into our bags back into place for the long journey home.
The plan was to explore the Parnell neighborhood and we had the uber drop us off at Bowl and Arrow, another smoothie bowl location. The menu looked like these were going to be too sweet so we opted to get food at our next stop which was La Cignale French Open Market that operates on the weekends.
There are so many offerings here for food so we were excited to make our selections. Kevin grabbed a flat white and a chocolate twist pastry to share along with a pork belly sandwich- breakfast of champions right?
Everything was delicious! I could not keep track of what was put on this sandwich- only to hope that it was not spicy- and these flavors all melded so nicely together. The pork crisp onto was a nice added bonus as well.
The rain started up for the day so we opted to visit the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Entrance was $25 a person (Free for NZ residents) for three floors full of informative content. We started at the top floor with World War I and II memorials and New Zealand’s history in both wars.
Then we explored the natural history potions before finishing up with the volcanoes, learning about the formation of New Zealand.
We unfortunately probably missed half the museum due to time since the information is so dense. You can easily spent all day here!
The rain continued so we dove into another uber to lunch at Wu & You. We arrived and were once again told the place was fully booked for lunch but there were two seats at the bar available. Perfect like it was meant to be!
We got the menus and the excited fluttered.. The menu was very different than the one I saw online and many of the options I wanted were not available. Grrrr I forgot it was Saturday and some places, including this one, switch to a brunch menu. In this case, it was a very popular bottomless champagne brunch.
Fortunately, the main reason for picking this place was one item that was still there- Mr Krab’s Nori Taco. This taco was stuffed with sushi rice, avocado, and topped with a tempura soft shell carb and a sriracha mayo.
Kevin got an beer and we each ordered one of the crab tacos. These came out like works of art! The nori seaweed was lightly fried to form the taco shell, the bottom was lined with sticky rice then with a thick layer avocado topped with the fried soft shell crab. Kevin’s also had the sriracha mayo on it as well and I got mine without.
We each took a different approach to eating the taco- first from the top then from the side and a combination of both. These were so amazing and well worth the trip. Wish we got to try more things on the menu but I am sure the full menu is all great as well.
Alas, the time has come to gather our things and make our way to the airport.
While people typically do not recommend spending time in Auckland on an adventure around New Zealand, it was a good way to end our trip and to minimize the travel home stress. There is so much to do in and around Auckland, not to mention an entire area north of Auckland we did not get to. One thing I had wanted us to do was visit Waiheke Island, a ferry ride away to an island full of vineyards. Another popular way to explore the water through an American’s Cup Sailing Experience that we would have added on if we had the time. Since the weather was not good when we were in Auckland, our itinerary worked out great.