GUEST ARTICLE:I was extremely parched and desperate for water upon arriving at Auckland International Airport thanks to security restricting liquids on board.
So in a useless act of defiance, I took my water bottle through security and on board, empty though of course. So I had no choice but to fork out a ridiculous $3.50 for a 600ml water bottle, whose lid cracked when I screwed it back on.
What a great omen and a spectacular waste of kiwi currency already. If I were a car I could’ve enjoyed a refreshing 2 litres of unleaded petrol with change to spare.
Exiting the rental car park was worse. There was no exit. Things just keep getting better. After a few laps of the car park I realized that the entry and exit lane was the same! How sensible and safe of course.
The fact that the give way sign was painted on the road at the intersection wasn’t very tourist friendly either because it was in the shape of a triangle pointing in my direction – so then I thought, great we’re driving into oncoming traffic and the trip may as well be over.
Heading towards the Auckland central business district, you will slowly see a tall syringe protruding out of the skyline, piercing the horizon.
That’s the SkyTower, the tallest in the Southern hemisphere at 1328m. It offers the usual 360 degree views, but on a clear, sunny day you can see all the way to the far northern tip, the Bay of Islands.
The student discount allows you to visit the observation deck, 100 feet above the Sky observation deck for only $18 instead of the $25 to access the standard Skydeck where you can also look down on the streets below through glass floors.
For everyone else, don’t forget to use the 10% discount available from all the free tourist guides / ad booklets disguised as “information”.
A good tip is to tear out and keep all the useful coupons out of the Jasons, AA and other “official” guides upon arrival at the I-site at each destination, rather than leave them in your room and forget to use them as they save you $ $ at all the main attractions across the Island.
Also keep an eye out for adventurous bungee jumpers from the top of the tower – makes for a good photo – if you’re fast enough.
The Skydeck also has more unobstructed views and allows for better photos because it has clear glass dividers rather than pillars
For lunch, walk down the road to O’Carrolls Irish Pub off Queen St before 2pm for huge servings of tasty and gourmet pub-grub at reasonable prices. Sit outside in the cobbled brick lane and watch as other tourists walk past gawking at your meal.
Don’t be fooled into visiting Victoria Market on the fringes of the city, its just a standard flea market offering ordinary souvenirs, knock-off labels, clothes and crafts.
For a bit of shopping, visit Aoeta Square Market (off Queen St), open Friday and Saturday in the heart of the city to look at some unique quality handicrafts, jewellery, bags, souvenirs and clothes. Sample some South Indian cuisine there and try a Dosa, the owners say they introduced it to Auckland first!
If you’re a Sydney-ite you’ll feel right at home on Queen St which is a mirror image of George and Pitt St combined, showcasing the best of Australian retail – making for disappointment for those looking for different fashion.
Parnell is worth a look if you’re into quaint handicrafts in a stylish town and Newmarket if you crave designer outlets –both share equally extravagant price tags.
At night, Viaduct Harbour is a must for a classy meal and a drink overlooking a sea of yachts.
Again, it was the same kind of club and dining scene you would get at Kings St & Cockle Bay Wharf in Sydney on a smaller scale.
There is a web cafe down an alley located off Queen St (opposite the Fort St intersection) where you can surf at high speed for $2/hour.
This article has been written by Pranav Bhatt. He is a graduate of the Faculty of Economics and Business at Sydney University. He has an interest in world travel, cricket, politics, technology and the media.
If you’ve travelled somewhere off the beaten track, can write well and have good quality photos I encourage you to contact me and I’ll consider publishing your travel diary here including generous attribution and links back to your website as thanks for your contribution