The best farmers market in Auckland can be found on the weekends in Parnell. Here you will find the highest quality boutique goods in the area while enjoying a beautiful morning in one of the best neighborhoods in Auckland.
Parnell is a upper class luxury area to enjoy. Obviously I was a bit out of place, but after the market it’s a short walk to Parnell Road where you can find beautiful shops and cafes. You can explore the interesting architecture and the brick side streets.
If you’re on a visit to Auckland and are looking for souvenirs to bring back for your friends and family, this is where you will find the best stuff. There are really great local farmers with neat little specialty goods. Most of the stuff is hand made with neat little hand crafted labels. Ideal stuff to bring home with you!
La Cigale – Parnell
This market has a fantastic assortment of goods that scream high class. From fine breads to wines to beautiful knives. It’s a fantastic place to explore and find gifts for your friends.
The Auckland Museum is packed full of good stuff. Obviously there is a huge, beautiful Marae (pronounced: Moorai) and lots of engaging Maori artifacts.
The bottom floor is dedicated to the people of the pacific (those indigenous to Hawaii, Easter Island and New Zealand.)
The second floor is dedicated to the natural history of the area (oceans, costal areas geological history, biology.) There are some really fun things on this floor like live lizard/bug exhibits, interactive microscope displays and lots of taxidermy. There is also a exhibit for the New Zealand Maori team which has a great video teaching about the huge importance of Ruby in New Zealand.
The third floor is dedicated to New Zealand wars. There are heaps of interesting videos explaining past conflicts and displaying weaponry. You can learn about New Zealand’s participation in the Boer War, imperial war inside New Zealand, WWI, WWII and others. there are beautiful memorials of WWII and armory displays from the old days.
Bottom line, this museum has something for everyone. There are heaps of things to see and do there so set aside a few hours. The place is so packed with interesting exhibits and artifacts that one can easily become overwhelmed with all the information.
If you do get overwhelmed, just go for a stroll. There are beautiful nature walks throughout the domain. It’s very pleasant to just meander around and enjoyed a pause from the hustle of the city.
Make sure to visit the winter garden. There they grow some amazing plants on display in a beautiful old brick and glass building. It’s the most relaxing place I’ve visited in Auckland and I sincerely recommend it.
Before you go to the Museum, go to the library with a printout of letterhead that says you live in Auckland. You could use a credit card statement or anything really. Just photoshop an Auckland address into the address bar. This takes about 10 minutes of your time and you can get an Auckland library card. With a library card you can rent books, but more importantly, you can visit the Museum for free.
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The Rotorua Luge is mean. We had an awesome time with the family. I used the GoPro to slap this video together:
Honestly, I had my doubts about doing this. It seemed a bit overly family friendly for my radical roots, but I was wrong. The high speed corners led to adrenaline filled skids and I almost rolled a few times. One of our party did roll.
“Rotorua Luge vs. Queenstown Luge” No real competition, the Rotorua Luge is better. I heard this straight from the mouths of a few Kiwi fellows who have visited both Luge locations more times than they could count. Word is, the Rotorua Luge is better quality, longer and faster than it’s counterpart in Queenstown.
We really had a great time. It’s a lot like a short day at the ski area, but not quite so cold!
While traveling the North and South Islands of New Zealand you want to take the ferry across the Cook Straight. When crossing you have two companies to choose from; the Interislander and the Bluebridge. Both services can take you as a passenger with or without your car. The crossing is fun and I consider it essential to a New Zealand adventure. The ferry is a testament Kiwi ingenuity! It’s also scenic and fun as you spend 3 hours at sea.
Interislander vs. Bluebridge
Q: Which should I take?
A: Interislander, No doubt about it.
Tips for crossing:
Prepare to get a little seasick
Put the emergency break on in your car
Turn you car alarm off
Enjoy the outdoor deck, you’ll cross some stunning scenery
Food and drink aren’t more expensive than normal New Zealand prices.
There isn’t a lot of preparation needed. The ferry landing is easy to find in Wellington and Picton. Driving on is easy.
On both services you drive your vehicle onto the boat yourself. Here’s a video of us boarding in Wellington and disembarking in Picton!
I’ll show some pictures and brief descriptions of the Bluebridge:
The cabin of the Bluebridge is very functional. You can order food and have it delivered to you while you sit indoors and watch the shores of Wellington and the North end of the South Island pass by.
The Bluebridge ship is smaller and simpler than it’s competition. For this reason, it is slightly quicker at crossing the straight…. but only a few minutes faster. It’s not a significantly faster experience.
The bluebridge cabin is comfortable and simple. If you require a private room, they offer that. I don’t really know why someone would want a private room on a 3 hour trip though .
There is seating on the blue bridge outdoor deck. You can also walk around on the outer deck while crossing.
They don’t have sky (New Zealand’s television service) so there is no television while on board. This wasn’t cool for us because we missed two Rugby World Cup matches while crossing the straight. They do show movies but there is only one option played on all the screens. If they play a movie your not interested in, tough luck.
Anyways, the Interislander is without a doubt the one that I recommend.
Here is why:
This boat has heaps of different cabins for whatever your different interests are.
It’s like a playground for kids and adults! They have so much cool stuff to do!
They have a cafe
Their outdoor deck is great for watching the progress of the crossing.
At the back there is a great glass enclosed observatory if (and when) it gets too cold to be outside.
There is a playground and a cafe for the parents and their kids. It’s really nice because it is on the bottom deck so all the kids are nice and busy away from the cafe and the pub. The playground is in the bowls of the ship! It’s perfect, you can’t even hear the little buggers.
Yeah, they have an awesome pub. The drinks are about as expensive as any other pub in New Zealand. There was even a really entertaining live band playing.
There is lots of seating in the pub.
So that’s it folks. The showdown of the Interislander and the Bluebridge goes to the Interislander.
Do you have any experience crossing the Cook Straight? Tell me about it with a comment below.
We’ve spent the last few days in Cooks Beach, New Zealand. Its surprisingly quiet in this little scenic suburb. It feels a bit like that movie 28 Days Later; heaps of well maintained homes without a soul around. I heard it gets crowded around Christmas and New Years, but it sure isn’t crowded now.
To get goodies and internet access we bike from Cooks Beach to Whitianga. We load our bikes onto the ferry to cross the bay to town. It’s fun taking a boat to get to town.
On the way back, we stopped at Shakespeare Cliff. This is a tiny hike out to the point where you can look over the stunning Cathedral Bay. I found a cool rope swing down on the beach
When the swell picks up we drive across the peninsula to surf at Hot Water Beach.
Hot Water Beach is a sand bar beach break. It breaks left and right. The right generally shapes up better than the left. It seems to me that it works best at low to mid tide.
It’s called Hot Water Beach because during low tide everyone digs into the sand and chills in the warm spa-like water. It’s a cool touristy beach scene. If you’re looking for a good place to park your van for the night and sleep near the beach, go to the Surf Beach parking lot. It’s got a toilet and its far from the road.
We set off on our best trip of the New Zealand asylum to date; RAGLAN, New Zealand.
Once again, we began without any preparation or expectation of an adventure. In all actuality, we set out to go to the internet cafe. We stopped to get some avocados from the nice people selling them for a dollar on the side of the road. I got to talking to the avocado slinger about surfing. He said the surf was good “just down the road.” So we set off on a hour long drive down a rocky dirt road that led us up and down the costal hills to a secluded surf beach called Ruapuke Beach. This place is heaven with good waves and stunning scenery!
On the drive back, we came to the conclusion that there is no way we should live in Auckland. Sorry to all those that would wish me to get a real job, but Auckland just isn’t a viable option when you have such a beautiful country to explore. The drive back was stunning.
The exclamation point warning sign was to mark this here perilous river crossing. Have no fear, the Audi made it across without a scratch. Guess perilous isn’t the right word!
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We traveled all over Ohope and Whakatane this last week. Whakatane is a must visit spot on the North Island. Lots of locals told us that Whakatane is the “sunniest place in New Zealand.” There is an extensive Maori culture. For you budget backpackers driving around, there are great free activities; you can surf and there are awesome hikes. Enough cool stuff to do to keep you busy for a few days.
Here are some photos and descriptions of our hikes.
Here is a photo of the Marae that is behind the Ohope Christian Camp on the main street of Ohope Beach (Across from the petrol station). Paul and Daphne are great hosts! They have inexpensive places for budget travelers. We hiked up the mountain behind the Marae to check out the beach town from up high. You can see down at the end is a spot called “The West End.” It’s got pretty good surf, but it’s a bit unpredictable.
We walked back down the steep cliffs back to the Marae:
Later on we went into town to hike from the middle of town up to a beautiful overlook. There is a really inspiring mosaic staircase art piece that builds images as the stairs climb. The bottom stair represents the bottom of the sea while the top represents the sky. Here is a photo of the bottom:
The hike was beautiful and refreshing. The next day I worked a day or two with a brick layer while Veronica helped with the Christian Camp. Duty called and she volunteered to go help save a beached pilot whale with the camp director! Beached AZ!
The Kiwis really came together to save the whale. Here is a line of people carrying buckets from the ocean to the whale to help keep it alive:
After our days apart, we reunited to go visit the Marae in Whakatane, New Zealand (Whakatane pronounced: fuck-a-tan-e)
Maori Carvings are stunning:
After this we drove out of Whakatane towards Ohope Beach. After going over the hill towards Ohope there is a lookout to the left. We drove up there to check it out. Of course, the view was stunning.
We decided to hike a little while. We were definitely unprepared, but the hike was so sweet we just kept going and going until we couldn’t turn around! Barefoot and without water, we walked all the way back to Ohope Beach. Here are some photos of the spontaneous 3 hour hike:
We made it! At last! So worth the trip! All the best things happened, beautiful photos, great sea shell collection and a greater understanding of the geography of the place. Our feet are sore, we are thirsty and all we have to do it get back to the bach and get a ride back to the car.
Hope you enjoyed this little blog about Whakatane.
If you read this, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear back from the folks that read this!
So we left Hanmer Springs! Yehaw! On the way to the coast we had to pull over to check out the free wine tasting:
We headed to the coast and slept near the beach. We spent the morning laying around reading and watching the waves. A nice family of Kiwis from Nelson invited us to eat some Paua (Pronounced “power” its Maori for abalone) on the beach.
Of course, we had to take the ferry across the Cook Straight. We took the BlueBridge and learned that we recommend the InterIslander! BlueBridge and the InterIslander are both ferry services, but InterIslander is without a doubt a superior service!
We found our way north via the east coast.
Here is our first Travel Blog Video! More to come! We will get more professional as time goes!
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