Australians and New Zealanders have a playful rivalry that can turn a bit sour when it comes to the blind patriotism, which I know Australians are capable of. We love to beat our Kiwi neighbours whenever we can, but ask any Australian who's travelled to NZ what it was like and I'm pretty sure they'll testify that it was amazing. I travelled to Auckland recently, and have since become an advocate for all Australians choosing New Zealand as their next holiday destination! Here are ten reasons why we should embrace Auckland, as one of NZ's bigger cities:
The City of Sails
1. The weather
: Yes, it is colder than Australia, But surely that's a reason to go, right? Particularly if the weather in Australia decides to chuck us a week of 40 degrees. Auckland was definitely warm enough for me in January, and the cool nights were a welcome relief from what I left in Perth.
2. The people
: It would be a needless generalisation to say they are a hilarious bunch, but I would be inclined to at least say that the sense of humour I experienced was pretty deadpan, and certainly not offensive. Much like Bret and Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords. A country full of Brets and Jemaines? Too good to be true.
3. The work ethic
: Everywhere I looked, people seemed to be enjoying their job. From the taxi driver who demonstrated the Australian Haka (i.e. patting your pockets in search of change) to the coach driver who gave us a verbal account of how best to use the toilets onboard (which included making a beeping, reversing sound like a truck so that everyone would know your intentions) they just got on with what they were doing cheerfully and respectfully, and with a good serve of humour. Which brings me to:
4. The Workmen
: We had workmen all over our building, popping up on the scaffolding outside our windows at 7:30am. But, by the end of the trip- which was a Sunday, meaning no workmen that day- we actually missed them. Why? Because most of the time all they seemed to say was "Cheers, bro!" which was ultimately more endearing than intrusive.
5. The Restaurants
: I wouldn't go so far as to say they were amazingly diverse, and they certainly weren't cheap (Auckland isn't!), but the ones located around the harbour had such lovely views and pretty much all had happy hour, which generally went for a good two or three hours. You could stroll down to the Viaduct and find somewhere simply charming where you could sip on some local Kiwi brew and it would be lovely- I guarantee!
6. The economy
: Australians are all about mateship, so why shouldn't that extend to our next door neighbours (the ones across the Pacific, not the actual people living next door)? NZ has had a bad time recently, and is still feeling the effects of the Christchurch earthquake. They rely on tourism, and why wouldn't you when you have so many natural wonders in one place? Help a bro out, and head on over to buy up big on whatever your heart desires.
The View from Devonport Beach
7. Lord of the Rings
: We could have gone to Hobbiton, which is the pretty much the Shire that the hobbits live in in the trilogies. But we didn't. It's on the bucket list. The Hobbiton is in the North Island, just 2 and a half hours out of Auckland, even though most of the Lord of the Rings was shot in the South Island, where it's greener and more mountainous. It might not be around much longer, so if you fancy a dip into fantasy, this is just what you're after. And the bus trips south make provide a nice contrast to the small-time cosmopolitanism of Auckland.
8. The water
: the beaches might not stretch as far as the eye can see, and might not have the smooth white sand of our W.A. beaches, but they are possibly more magical than any beach I've ever been to. Because Auckland consists of so many bays and inlets, you could walk in just about any direction and come across a picturesque bit of coast in which to cool your feet and kickstart your romantic side. The view of Rangatoto Island just reinforces the sheer mystique and timelessness of Auckland's natural beauty.
9. The fact that it's just across the pond
: You have to travel pretty far in any direction before you actually get out of Australia (unless you live in Darwin, maybe), so why not head east? Bali's getting more frightening every time you watch the news and Europe and the Americas are a fair trek. NZ is different enough to Australia that you feel as if you're experience something culturally different, but similar enough that nothing is a challenge, really.
10. The truly NZ stuff
: Fish and chips. Best meal ever. We got a serve for $6 in Takapuna and ate it on the beach. Heaven. Ice cream. Buy Joshua's in St Hiliers get two scoops for $4.50. The local beers and wine. They've got a pretty good rep. L P. Buy it everywhere you go and just enjoy. Manuka Honey. Same deal. Lap it up because the stuff is delightful. Green stone. Granted, it's not edible, but it's a lovely reminder of your wonderful holiday! It will be wonderful. I promise!