Awesome Auckland

Posted by jswt | Posted in General, New Zealand - Auckland | Posted on 05-09-2011


After spending the better part of 5 months in Australia, I’d learned that the aussie national sport was not rugby, but slandering and belittling Kiwis. It was with the expectation of inbred sheep shaggers that we landed in Auckland for a couple weeks, which ended up being absolutely fantastic.

The week started on a high note when we checked into the hotel and found out that they’d upgraded us as a pre-emptive wedding treat (big thanks to SA!). We had a beautiful penthouse loft in a great hotel with a jawdropping view of the the harbour and coastline.

Immediately, we picked up on the extremely welcoming nature of the kiwis: where the Australians share the American cowboy mentality, the Kiwis have a self depricating warm cynicism and serious warmth similar to Canadians. Every hello led to a conversation, and I was surprised to meet so many kind, welcoming, intelligent people in one city.

Over and over we kept saying to eachother how at home we felt in NZ. Auckland was like taking the best parts of Vancouver (ocean, green space, chill vibe) and mixing it with good parts of hawaii (ocean, palm trees, non-humid warmth, polynesian culture). And again, over and over, the people were just so likeminded to the Canadian vibe and so much friendlier than Vancouver that we couldn’t help feel relaxed and at home… More than a few times we said we’d be able to live in NZ quite pleasantly.

The city was covered with a sense of waiting as we were there before the World Rugby Competition was set to roll into town, but we were there during NZ Fashion Week and landed a few tickets to some runway shows that were kind of fun.

A highlight of the stay was the day we spent visiting the Waitomo Caves where we did the full Black Abyss tour: abseiling down 100+ feet on a rope, wandering underground caves, ziplining into blackness, climbing up a waterfall, and tubing down an underground river in pitch darkness except for the thousands of points of light coming from the constellations of glowworms on the ceiling. Hugely, hugely, hugely worthwhile and one of the more memorable days off we’ve ever had together on tour.

One random afternoon, tho we got suckered into the worst hop on/hop off bus tour ever, we ditched it quickly and I spent a really nice day w/ G and V kickin around town, sharking out at the aquarium, drinking wine, nibbling and shopping before ending up back at the hotel with a few bottles of wine and booking Balinese tour breaks. Seriously fab day with a couple fab ladies…

Back in the city one night, some of the people from the tour had put together a stag party for Chris and though I had some reservations about it, I was invited along. So glad I did, as it was a debaucherous hop around town on a party bus bar hopping across Auckland that descended into a lot of stuff I can’t remember and a lot of stuff I just can’t post (in a good way – hahah).

Interesting tidbit of the night: The Eagle (the legendary standard of seedy gay bars everywhere) in Auckland has a reading room and book selection (but no sling), and a bar suitable for dancing upon.

Few other nights out at really really great lounges, dj’ing a Lord of the Rings party (Last minute costume: I went as a treasure map – heheh), and just generally enjoying the really fantastic laid back vibe of the city.

Late in the visit was S’s bachelorette party (she’s getting married the week after us in SA), and I got invited along on the ladies night which was a ton of crazy fun: taking over and turning a shitty bar great, turning random college guys into strippers for the night, and laughing and laughing and laughing. So much fun, and a good sendoff for a lovely lady… Congrats chiquita!

Though not quite as fun and exciting as my normal travels, my stomach problems flared up a bit a few days later and I ended up landing in the hospital for a few days. Chris was great and was there as much as possible, and I’ve got to give serious props to the NZ medical system for having the nicest overworked nurses I’ve ever met – they were really caring and helpful, even to the crazy diabetic crackhead chick I got to share some time and space with. Unfortunately, the health system there works slowly (it’s public, so they’re in it to fix ya, not in a rush to get you out the door) and they’d put me on monitoring over the weekend and were going to revisit my case the week after which didn’t really work for us as I was to fly home on the Sunday. I know the symptoms and the routine well enough to know that things had settled down and against the doctor’s wishes (and with a mountain of paperwork to confirm that) we checked me out of the hospital and went back to the hotel to start packing and head for the airport. I’m on some medication now to help with the stomach stuff that’s been creeping up on me lately, so fingers crossed that my stomach stays settled, especially during the next few weeks of hectic wedding prep and planning!

Overall though, I *loved* New Zealand and can’t wait to get back to explore more of it… supposedly the south island is even more beautiful, and has a lot of skiing options. NZ is definately some place I could spend a few months wandering and settling into without a problem… Can’t wait to come back one day.