Rainforests, dance clubs and shopping!
Check out the photos for the sights of Auckland here: NZ Auckland 2010
We arrived into Auckland the evening after our glow worm adventure and checked into our hotel called The Quadrant. The Quadrant Hotel is a great hotel located inside the City Centre and situated on top of a hill next to Auckland University. Our room was extremely cool and hip; our separate bedroom had sliding glass doors that closed it off on two sides to create a cube in the middle of the room. Loved it! The hotel also offered free wifi which was actually our first free wifi hotel of the entire trip and a major selling point for selecting the hotel.
After checking in, showering and changing we went out to the wharf and had dinner at Euro Restaurant (a great seafood place) followed by an evening cocktail on the Viaduct Quay. We went back to the hotel to sleep; however, Knape had her own agenda and snuck out for the evening to go party until the wee hours of the morning!
The next day we all woke up and Noah and I found a great cafe with plenty of vegan options — Raw Power Cafe. Then we left Auckland to explore the New Zealand Rainforests and black sand beaches on the West Coast while Knape went shopping on Ponsonby Road. Our scenic drive and into the rain forest near Auckland was amazing! The scenery was incredible and it was, not surprisingly, raining! At KareKare Beach Noah and I took a hike down into a trail into the rainforest (see video) and discovered a waterfall (KareKare Falls) that we had all to ourselves! I have to admit that being in front of a waterfall, with no one else around but the one you love, inside of a rainforest, is a very magical experience. We captured the moment with many pictures and even a video log of us making our way down the trail. It was truly impressive! If you are ever in New Zealand you should certainly visit KareKare!
We could not access the black sand beach at KareKare due to flooding, so instead we drove over to Piha where you can drive right up to the beach (Piha is a small beach town popular with the summer surfing crowd). The black sand was amazing to see and the blue water made for an excellent contrast against the black sand. We arrived at low tide so we were able to watch the water recede from the bay as it formed large waves back into the ocean. It was my first time to visit a rainforest and our first time to see the Tasman Sea!
After we ended our excursion to the rainforest we met back up with Knape in Auckland and wandered down Queen’s Street and did a lot of shopping! We found some incredible T-shirts (taking advantage of winter sales) and I bought an excellent new winter coat in grey. I know, we will all mourn the red jacket. However, I assure you it has not left; it has only been given a reprieve as my -only- favorite coat for out of town journeys! We had dinner at a nice restaurant in Auckland recommended by our hotel that had a very good tapas menu and contained a cozy fireplace in the middle! Great ambience and service was easy to find in Auckland although the food was at times a little less hit and a little more miss.
I wanted to go clubbing on our last night in New Zealand so we headed out to find the ever-elusive 42 Below bar, an exciting ice bar in the middle of the city with great drinks made with — yes you guessed it — 42 Below Vodka. Well, after 45 minutes of walking and countless asking of nightclub bouncers we were finally directed to a location of the bar. With anxious anticipation we walked across the street only to find, well, a door. The door did open (if it was not locked) into a hallway with a sign for the 42 Below bar; however, the club obviously had been closed for quite some time. Counting our losses and lamenting that we just took a wild goose chase all over Auckland (was that some Tennessee coming out??) we went to Flight Lounge instead to dance the night away. Noah left us after about some time (to sleep) but Knape and I stayed dancing until the wee hours of 3:30AM! I kept trying to convince her to stay out all night to which she constantly replied “we have to wake up in 4 hours” to which I replied “let’s just not go to sleep!”. (Un)fortunately she won and we got home around 4AM. After a few laughs and photos we called it a night and tucked into bed to rest up for our last day.