This is one of the many statues you will see in the Auckland Airport in New Zealand as it is the Gateway to Middle-Earth from the Lord of the Rings movie.
Landed safe in New Zealand at about 5ish AM on a Tuesday. Some of you might be thinking how can that be when I left on a Sunday. There is a huge time difference so the time I left from San Fran to New Zealand was about 14hrs so that puts me a day ahead.
So going through customs & security was not so bad. They do not have you take out your laptop or camera when they run your carry on bags/items with you from the plane shoes or take off your shoes as they have an X-Ray machine. This saves so much time and hassle.
I grabbed my bag that I checked and headed outside to look for a shuttle to take me to the Hilton Auckland Hotel where I will be staying for my duration in New Zealand.
I called the hotel prior to see if they had a free shuttle for customers. They did not offer that but said there were shuttles available to take that you shared with other people and the fee who be $35 NZ dollars an additional $8 for each extra passenger (which is not bad). I researched other options and they would cost $60 with a taxi.
So hotels do however offer free shuttle service from the airport to the hotel. Make sure to look into that prior to your travels.
Your flight will be long so take dried snacks and water with you in your carry on bag.
I got to the hotel before my room was ready they will hold your bags for you there. So you can go out to explore or eat. Whatever you like but will not have to worry about lugging around your bags around.
Oh, I saw this place called MexiCali on my way to the ferry way and hell it is Taco Tuesday! $3 fresh tacos with good salsa at a laid back and friendly staff place.
These are some images by the Ferry way where I had to catch the bus!
It is about this time once I have gotten to the hotel and dropped off my bags. Now what to do this early in morning? Where do I begin?
I go to see the concierge at the desk and gives me a bunch of choices. Information on tours and must sees around New Zealand.
On one hand I am tired from my flight and then on the other hand I am pumped to be in a new city, hell in a new country. So I looked through all the material that was provided and finally settled on the Hop on/ Hop off Bus that one of co-workers suggested. The cost for this was pretty cheap $45 NZ dollars. The ticket was good from the time you made the purchase of the ticket and ended at 5pm (9-5pm). The buses took you around to several spots around Downtown Auckland that were some of the must see popular attractions.
So I got my ticket and got on the next bus by the Wharf. It look like one of the red double decker London buses you see in the movies labeled Hop ON/ Hop Off bus. There was commentary that ran about the spots that the bus went to bus did not stop the bus for the passengers to get a quick photo op. They would leave you there at whichever designation you choose to get off at but the next bus would not show up to grab you for another hour. And some of the location pick ups were very early like 3:45pm. After falling asleep and going around again to catch what I had missed I made a stop at the Auckland Skytower.
The Skytower is a smaller version of the Empire State Building that is 61 floors and it revolves (which I did not notice) with big windows to look out to see the whole city and off to the ocean. You can bungee jump off it if you like for about $225 NZ dollars. Less than a minute of adrenaline rush no thanks. I would rather jump out of a plane for that price. I did got up however to check out the views of the city for a whopping $25 NZ bucks. The views were good from up there and good place to take photos at especially since I was there early on a weekday it was not crowded at all. It happens to be their winter which makes it less crowded since it is not peak season. Once I was done looking around up on the Skytower I left to go walk about the city. Then I went to have smoke and wait for my bus to arrive at 3:45pm and he was on time. I got see a few people jump off Skytower while I waited. The bus driver picked us up and said that the ferry stop on the wharf was the last stop. WTH?! There is still an hour left on my ticket to use and he calls it quits. Well I am tired anyhow so I get off at my stop and walk back to the hotel when I spot some shops around. It was a small mini mall so I decided to go take a look to waste some time. See if I could possibly find some gifts for my friends and co-workers back home and some coke for that Jack Daniels my brother texted me he bought along with snacks. Found what I needed and now I was finally headed back to the hotel when my brother sent me a text that he was heading to the hotel as well. We arrived at about the same time back and then went to go get something to grub on.
Some sights from the Hop on and Hop off bus
Me below the Skytower and images from above the Skytower
Some sights while walking around downtown.
We agreed that seafood was all that we wanted. There are so many places around the wharf to choose from but how do you know if they are good? Ask the door man at the hotel and also consult with Yelp reviews. What the locals tell you is usually right. So we went to check out a nearby restaurant that was within walking distance from the Hilton hotel that is very expensive but comes highly recommended.
Harborside Seafood Bar & Grill - 99 Quay St. Auckland New Zealand
The place is located in the old ferry building which has character and as we know I am all about that. This lighting was good for these Vampire eyes who do not like bright lights and this is a very upscale joint.
1. Seared New Zealand Scallops and Scampi $27.95 NZ
2. West Coast Whitebait Fritter $35.95NZ
1. Kingfish (no sides) $38.95 NZ
1. Prawn Mac N' Cheese Crayfish Bechamel $12.95 NZ
1. Lemon Pie $16.95 NZ
The Lemon Pie was more like a tart and totally small (see images)
After dinner we walked back along the harbor to the hotel. We were both beat from our all day flights and no rest. So hot shower. PJ's, and lights out!
So I told the waiter where is my free birthday treat and so he brings out the dessert with the words "Happy Birthday" written on the plate. Funny guy. But still had to pay for that dessert. WTH? nothing is free people oversees. ugh. I tried.
Late night view of the Harbor lit up.