Alicia: After a long flight from Santiago (13 hours including many in flight films) we arrived in Auckland on tues 21st at around 4am which meant that we'd managed to miss a day because of the time-date line. Having messaged the hostel about our early arrival and not hearing from them, we decided to chance it and headed straight there. When we got there was 6am and no one was about so had to wait on the doorstep until 7 in the cold until we found a coffee shop to hang out in. All very posh though we looked a tad out of place in our llama jumpers ( as we're obviously the trend setters, Auckland will be covered in llama from now on :P) Finally after getting settled in our hostel in Ponsonby, we headed out to the harbour and to plan our side trip to the Bay of Islands. Unfortunately after chatting to a couple of info places, found out that it would cost a few hundred each to travel there on top of the boat tours and such which was just to expensive for us :( So we decided to spend the rest of the week in Auckland which turned out to be pretty good actually. On the weds we headed out with a group from the hostel to attempt the Coast to Coast Walk across Auckland (about 16km I think). We walked from Viaduct Harbour, through town, up Mt Eden, then through a village where we picked up some chips, then through Cornwall Park and up One Tree Hill and finally to the other side. Phew! Was a long day and took about 8 hours in total but got to see some awesome views of Auckland and the group were pretty cool. Was a lovely day with perfect sunshine.
On Thursday we took the ferry to one of Auckland's many volcanic islands, Waiheke. We'd been told that Waiheke was where all the millionaires live amongst loads of vineyards. After a little bus tour around the island we could totally see why. It was ridiculously beautiful with gorgeous white sandy beaches, crystal clear water and a amazing view over Auckland harbour where you could see the Sky Tower in the distance. After picnicking on the beach we took a mini wine tasting of three local wines with bread and a local olive oil 'rangihau' which was lush and tbh better than the wines :P our plan that evening was to go to Mission Bay to have dinner but we were caught in a freak downpour on the way back so had to delay it another day. However, it did mean we could check out the Indian restaurant in Ponsonby which was gert lush but ridiculously spicy. Loves it.
Friday we spent on another volcanic island, Rangitoto, which is Auckland's youngest volcano. Apparently on the other island nearby they found drawings from the Maoris showing how they saw it erupting from the water which I thought must have been amazing. On the island we walked up to the summit and looked into the crater which has completely been covered by trees and shrubs. Worlds away from our South American volcanoes with the snow capped peaks. We then spent the rest of the afternoon in Mission Bay drinking more wine on the beach :) As I'd been waiting to eat some New Zealand lamb, we scoured the restaurants for some in our price range but was all to pricey ( as for most of NZ tbh) so we headed back to Ponsonby. As we still couldn't find anywhere with lush lamb (surprisingly its only what it's famous for!) we settled on a swanky wine bar/ bistro and had many ciders ( though might has well have been appletisers) and some lush steak after waiting a good hour for a table.
Overall not enough time to truly see see NZ. Had a lovely time there though and found the first place on our trip we could see ourselves living in. Wished we could stay longer to see more of the North Island but maybe that's a trip for another time :)