TRAVELOG 06: WELLINGTON AND AUCKLAND
As New Zealand's South Island slowly faded in the distance we crossed over the famed Cook Strait via the Interislander Ferry service. One of the worlds great Ferry services it provides both a physical and cultural link between the comparatively populated and cosmopolitan North Island and it’s Southern agrarian focused neighbor. Imagine if the Larkspur Ferry and a Carnival Cruise line had a baby. The Kaitaki offered private cabins, a VIP lounge, multiple viewing decks, shopping, two cafes, and a sports bar, where we chilled and drank our local craft Garage Project beer while an Irish band played. After approximately 3½ hours of mild seas and strong winds, we arrived in New Zealand's Capital of Wellington.
As both the Capital and second most populous city in the country, Wellington offers a unique blending of historic colonial-era architecture, while also being a major commercial and governmental hub.
The following morning we set out to explore. We quickly discovered that “Windy Wellington” (Wellington is the windiest city in the world with an annual average around 18 miles/hr as it is located in what is known as a River of Wind, the corridor between the South and North Islands) would require a generous dose of caffeine and we hightailed it to Havana Coffee Works on Cuba Street for multiple cups of our favorite brews. There are also a lot of great Cuban restaurants and bars to check out. We recommend Fidels Cafe which offers a Caribbean-inspired brunch until 4pm. After spending the early afternoon perusing the cities wealth of vintage book and curio stores (check out Arty Bees) we headed to Director Sir Peter Jackson's acclaimed WW1 museum exhibit which offered a compelling yet chilling reminder of the sacrifices given during that terrible conflict. As the sun came out, we decided to go in search of some of the city mural art. Wellington is rich with street art, with many women artists adding to the amazing works. Our favorite by far was the Bowie mural on the side of Jam Hair Co on Ghunznee street which is 3 stories high and 3 Bowies deep. we ended the day with a hearty meal at one of Wellington's most happening eateries, Charley Noble, which is a perfect spot to indulge in locally sourced food (NZ Steak is a specialty) and brilliant wines.
JAFA NO MORE
After driving over 900 miles throughout the South Island we opted to fly onwards to Auckland, New Zealand's largest city and are soon to be jumping off point to Sydney. Jafa is a somewhat derogatory term which stands for Just Another Fucking Aucklander. We found this to be untrue and the city to be culturally rich and diverse compared to other parts of NZ.
Arriving in Auckland we were immediately struck by both it’s comparative size and diversity in relation the rest of the country, With a greater population of over 1.7 million people (and the largest Māori population in NZ) the city feels far removed and yet connected to the majority of New Zealand. Although we normally gravitate to unique Airbnb properties, we decided to stay at the Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbor . A 5-star hotel with amazing harbor views and a great central location for walking the city. With limited time to spare before our departure for Australia, we grabbed some great cocktails at Coley and Punch located on one of Auckland Harbors busy wharves. From there we chose to catch a local ferry (our favorite means of transport) across the harbor to the small town of Devenport and had lunch at Corelli’s Cafe (try the fish and chips) and we were treated with gorgeous views of the Auckland Skyline on our return.
Returning to the city center, we traded in our books read for fresh reading and shopped on the famous Ponsonby Road. We perused Mr.Bigglesworthy for mid-century modern furniture and loved Working Style, which is one of New Zealand’s leading menswear brands that creates bespoke shirts. We ended our evening by grabbing an early dinner at Mezze Bar which offered great wines and tapas.
A stunning end to our NZ adventures and those to come..
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