After a great tour of the South Island and some time in Wellington, we had only two nights to spend in Auckland before we headed home. Boasting a scenic skyline and modern architecture, this city of about 1.5 million residents has some of the most expensive real estate in the world. The city is the largest in the country and as such, wields great economic power and influence in the region.
We were eager to explore, so on our first day in town we took to the city on foot, perusing the many shops and restaurants in the downtown area near our Airbnb. We stopped for some amazing burgers and shakes and felt immediately at home. The people in the city were incredibly kind and welcoming to us, not a surprise since our interactions with New Zealanders up to that point had been nothing but positive.
Our second day in town was spent on a wine tour of nearby Waiheke Island. Just a short ferry ride from downtown Auckland, Waiheke is a small island about twelve miles by six. We boarded the ferry in the morning and were able to enjoy a spectacular view of the iconic Auckland skyline on our way there. Home to about 9,500 permanent residents, Waiheke Island has dozens of vineyards and countless picturesque views from hills dotting the landscape. It has recently garnered recognition as the 5th best destination in the world by Lonely Planet and the 4th best island in the world by Conde Nast. Many residents work in Auckland and commute by ferry into the city every day, returning to the quiet small-town atmosphere in the night – the best of both worlds. We toured a handful of vineyards and enjoyed lunch from cliffs overlooking the ocean. The vineyards overflowed with green grass, flowers, big trees and each felt more pristine than the last. It undoubtedly would be a serene lifestyle to live on this small island, just a short trip out of the big city.
We wrapped up our day with a ferry ride back into the big city. As the skyline came into view and grew bigger, I realized our trip to this region of the world was coming to an end. We met kind and welcoming people, explored diverse environments, ate great food, and enjoyed vibrant and eclectic cities. The world is big, but I have to say this small corner of it carries an outsized place in my heart. // Jeff