Recap – Months 2 & 3

Halfway through our 3rd month I realized I hadn’t done a 2nd month recap… and since our 3rd month was kinda slow, I figured I would lump the two together for this edition of… MONTHLY RECAP!

The Breakdown

Our second month in New Zealand started off with the music festival Splore. It feels like such a long time ago now!

We bought our tickets months in advance and had been really excited to go. Overall we had a good time, but that was the beginning of  all the rain, which put a real damper on the event. Held in a national park that acts as grazing for a large sheep farm, you can imagine with all the added water and foot traffic what kind of mess it made. It didn’t give off the best odor, either. We made the best of it, however, and were able to find an amazing lookout point under a forest that hadn’t been trampled to the point of swampiness. We were able to enjoy the last few acts without having to go traipsing through the foot thick mud again.

After Splore we spent a ridiculous amount of time in Auckland working towards getting our van. In the meantime, we took advantage of what the city had to offer, despite not really wanting to be there. We went to a number of Auckland Fringe Festival performances. Trying to stay within budget (as well as support the up and comers) we mostly went to the free shows. We saw some interesting acts and got to experience cool places around the city that we probably wouldn’t have known about otherwise. Our favorite was definitely a storytelling show at Ellice Road, a quirky retro games bar with a soda shoppe feel.

Being in Auckland for so much time, we were able to jump around the neighborhoods quite a bit – we stayed in Ponsonby, Devonport, Parnell and the CBD… we also spent a good amount of time in Newmarket. I’d really like to write profiles for all the different Auckland neighborhoods, they all have such a different feel. If that is something you think you might like to read, let me know in the comments and I will make an effort to do that next time were around there.

We’ve been on the South island for two weeks now, so keep an eye out for upcoming posts following our time here.

By the Numbers

Where We’ve Been

Tapapakanga National Park: 3 Days

Auckland: 35 Days

Hobbiton: 1 Day

Wellington: 5 Hours

Picton: 2 Days

Blenheim: 4 Days

Kaikoura: 3 Days

Christchurch: 2 Days

What We’ve Done

Museums: 4

  • Torpedo Bay Naval Museum
  • Aviation Heritage Center, Omaka
  • Classic Cars Museum, Omaka
  • Auckland War Memorial Museum

Wineries: 5

  • Thomas’s Bach, Waiheke Island
  • Stonyridge, Waiheke Island
  • Peacock Sky, Waiheke Island
  • Geisen, Marlborough
  • Hunter’s, Marlborough

Breweries: 1

  • Moa Brewery, Marlborough

Birthdays: 1

  • MINE!

Where We’ve Stayed

Hostels: 15 nights

AirBnB’s: 2o nights

Philben: 13

Glamping: 2

Highlights

Definitely my 29th birthday. We got a nice, private AirBnB in Devonport, a suburb directly across the bay from downtown Auckland. Our host had a birthday cake and bottle of sparkling rosé waiting for us in the kitchen!

J planned the whole day. We grabbed breakfast at a cute little cafe then headed off to the Torpedo Bay Naval Museum. Not quite as grand as the Maritime museum just across the water, but worth a visit, none the less. Plus, it’s free! I got another coffee, because birthday caffeine is even better than regular caffeine, and we headed off to wander around the North Head Historic Reserve. It is a beautiful park with lots of trails, beautiful views and a collection of bunkers dating as far back as 1888 and used all the way through WWII. The bunkers are open to the public, and judging by the used condom – violent gagging sounds – discarded in the corner of an ammunition room, I’m guessing it is frequented at all times of day (and night). Despite the utterly abhorrent litter we came across, it is an absolutely stunning park and the perfect way to spend a sunny morning. We were lucky that we had such a beautiful day.

We caught a late afternoon showing of Life at the historic theater in Devonport, The Vic. Then headed back to the apartment to get ready for the main event, a very special dinner. We splurged and went to The Grove, one of the best reviewed restaurants in downtown Auckland. It offers two prix fixe menus based on local and seasonal ingredients. In hindsight I wish I had taken some photos, but at the time I was just enjoying the experience, not wanting to take myself out of the moment.

Another, highlight, would be finally getting to the South island. Even with the violent crashing ferry ride (thanks cyclones Debbie and Cook), it was a wonderful morning when we arrived in Picton.

Low Points

As mentioned in other posts, the weather has been pretty ghastly these past two months. So that has been a bummer.

Also, food in New Zealand is not great. I’m probably a bit of a snob, given my background, but seriously, it is kind of disastrous. No wonder “chef” is listed on their immigration site as a skilled laborer they are in need of. No duh.

 

 

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