Our first stop in New Zealand was Auckland. We arrived at the beginning of a cyclone that was headed over the North island so we were met by colder grey skies than we'd been used to in Australia!
My initial impressions of New Zealand from the plane window and from the taxi ride into Auckland was that it already hadstunning mountainous scenery and a stunning coastline. I had heard all about how the south island was amazing but iI hadn't realised the north island could also make that claim.
Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand housing over a third of the total population of the country but by Australian standards still fairly small, only 1.5 million people live there. My initial impression was that it was a less flat, smaller Sydney with similar Asian influence apparent straight away and with the sky tower much alike Sydney's, there's even a less famous suspension bridge across one of the harbours that you can do another bridge climb on like Sydney.
The differences start with the terrain, Auckland is a lot more hilly than Sydney with nearly every road having a gradient and there are several inactive volcanoes within the city. The most famous of which is the tallest, mount eden with a great 360 panoramic view of the city from up high. Auckland also has three bays unlike Sydney but much more scaled down.
The famous kiwi attitude towards extreme sports and rugby revealed itself as we went along the main street, Queen street, with offers for skydiving Auckland
and even bungying off the suspension bridge. The all blacks (especially highly regarded this year for going so long undefeated) had merchandise in several stores as well as lots of souveneer shops selling traditional Maori artefacts, which Australia had no equivalent of anywhere.
Unfortunately due to the cyclone and the fact that a lot of Auckland's attractions were a car journey away from the centre we only really managed to climb mount eden rather than go to any of the islands or beaches.
Chris and I also managed to go on an organised pub crawl but it didn't turn out very well as even though there is a university right near the centre of the city all of the clubs were fairly empty and none of them really stood out like they had in some Australian cities. Also all around New Zealand a new law had come in that required foreign nationals to use their passport as ID which we didn't really like as we didn't want to risk losing it on a night out and it meant always remembering to bring it.
All in all I liked Auckland but didn't really experience the city properly but there wasn't time to stay longer and there weren't too many attractions to see, next stop Bay of Islands in the North.