Quick Stop in Auckland

I never really heard much about Auckland as a destination and unfortunately, I understand why.  Consider this city a stopover on your way to explore the nature and world renowned beaches its country has to offer.  In the heart of the city you will discover boutiques, restaurants, and cafes in the laneways, which are walking distance to the waterfront.  I loved that!  The waterfront is filled with vibrant restaurants serving award winning vino.

My husband and I arrived in Auckland in the afternoon and we walked around the entire central area.  There is another cool neighbourhood called, Ponsonby, which we toured through as well.  You will need to drive there as it is about 10 minutes away from the central area.  Oh…renting a car is a must and you may as well do that from the airport!  Read below for information that you can use to help you navigate better.

Tips Upon Arrival

Buy your SIM card at the airport.  We hoped to get a better price in the city, but we checked with all providers and the best price was $20 New Zealand Dollars for 1G Data and 200 minutes of talk from a company called 2 Degrees. The 2 Degrees SIM card was not available at the airport, so Spark may be your best option.  Upon arrival at the airport, you may find yourself a little frustrated.  It was slightly chaotic and there was no internet service.  The closest place for Wifi was a McDonalds nearby, but even that was lousy. That’s another good reason to get your SIM card before leaving the airport.  We are technology dependent and it does make all of our trips easier.  With little time, we have no time to spare trying to figure things out the old school way.  It’s very important that you have your mobile device already unlocked.

Renting a Car

We booked our car online from Apex and had a good experience. We called for a shuttle from a designated airport shuttle phone.  The shuttle picked us up outside and the wait was about 10 minutes.  The drive to the car rental place was another 10-15 minutes away.  Be sure to check with your credit card and know what coverage you have and what you need.  If you have never driven on the left side before this will be a cool experience for you.  Travelers from Canada and the US, do not need an international drivers license.

We only had a few days to do as much of the Northern region as possible and we chose the following sites and thanked God every step of the way:

Upper Nihotupu Walk, Piha Beach, Hot Water Beach, Rotorua, and the Coromandel area. Site seeing along the entire coast will have you captivated, but be careful the roads are tight and curvy with tons of hills and valleys.

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The path towards the Nihotupu Dam
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One of the waterfalls when you take your walk through Nihotupu towards the Dam. You can get in this water, but it is very cold.
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Piha Beach

 

 

 

Black Sand

What picture do you have when you think of the beach?  We usually have the image of a beautiful hue of either pristine blue or green water with white or beige colored sand along the coast.  Have you ever stepped foot on a black sand beach?

I walked on black sand at Piha Beach in New Zealand.  This is one of the most beautiful destinations in the country, based on my short and sweet adventures in the northern region.

Every bare foot step that I took  along this beach felt like I was stepping on a hot plate.  I have never felt so inclined to keep my sandals on while walking along the beach.  I can say that I am not a fan of black sand, but it is worth seeing and this beach is a short drive from Auckland.

 

Aaaaah Piha

If you love beaches and you have looked at possibly visiting New Zealand then you likely have heard of Piha Beach.  This is a world famous surfers beach 40 km west of Auckland.  A friend had told us to “hire a car”, that’s kiwi speak for “rent a car”, upon arrival in Auckland and start touring around as much as possible.  I absolutely loved the drive along the coast, but it wasn’t easy.  First off, we were driving on the left side of the road and the driver’s seat is on the right and to top it off we were driving up the mountain and many times we were so close to the edge, I feared for my life.  Be encouraged though, as the drive is worth the eye-popping experience.  You will see lush green hills and valleys with abundance of wildlife including sheep, cows, and alpacas.  You will make windy turns up and down the hills and finally come down to Piha.  When we arrived I felt my mind and spirit reach a state of calm.  I thought, “aaaaaaaaah, Piha”.

Piha Beach is a beautiful black sand beach surrounded by enormous cliffs.  I’m not a fan of black sand though, it was too hot and I had to keep my flip-flops on so I didn’t burn the soles of my feet. After spending some time on the beach, we took a hike up the rock to have a beautiful aerial view.  You will also find secluded beach areas.  Be careful though the sea here can be vicious and life threatening.

Visiting this place from Auckland is an easy short and sweet day trip.

 

 

 

I am so thankful that I connected with this part of the world.  All praises and glory to God.

 

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