Jan 31, 2016

Aotearoa – Cities (Part 1)


Finally starting with my New Zealand blog series, trying to post regularily from now on

As New Zealand is known rather for its outstanding natural features than for its cities, you probably haven’t heard much about the latter. 
There are not that many big cities in NZ, the four biggest cities being Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Hamilton. Another city worth mentioning is the student city Dunedin (notice its unusual pronounciation "dun-EE-din"), which is the second-largest city on the South Island. 

 If you ask me, when it comes to bigger cities, the must-see ones are Wellington and Dunedin only. There are a bunch of small cities and towns that are well worth a visit though. 

As it would be a veeeery long post if I wrote about all of the cities mentioned in one post, I thought it would be better to split it up. Today we will have a look at Auckland and Hamilton, both located on top of the North Island


NZ consists of two islands, in total about twice the size of England. The total population is only about 4 million people, of which a third lives in Auckland

When you arrive in NZ at Auckland International Airport, you will most probably not really get the feeling like you’re actually in NZ. Auckland kinda leaves the impression of a huge Asia town; there are countless Asian grocery stores as well as Asian restaurants and even Asian bakeries. There’s not much of that laid-back-feeling you will get in the more remote areas of the country. 

There’s usually a lot going on in NZ’s biggest city and downtown is flooded with people. There are various events, a lot of possibilities for shopping and countless cafes and restaurants. 

Auckland’s landmark is the Sky Tower. On top of it there’s a restaurant, furthermore you can do bungee jumping or walk on top of the tower (like secured with straps of course). 

One of my favorite things about Auckland is the city’s skyline, which is really stunning, especially at night.  

You can see the Sky Tower sticking out from all the other buildings.
Another nice spot in NZ’s busiest city is the harbor site. You can take a ferry to Waiheke Island from here or just enjoy a coffee in one of the cafes next to the sea. 

My favorite part of Auckland is Mount Eden, on top of which you have a really lovely view all over the city. And the best thing about it – it is free :) In contrast to going up the Sky Tower. 

 You can walk up Mount Eden or just go by car. I have been up there during day time as well as at dawn. It is said to be amazing to see a nice sunset from up there. I haven’t been so lucky to see one unfortunately, though. 

 There is a lot more to see and do in and around NZ’s biggest city, like various museums, art galleries, parks, markets and also beaches, so it’s easy to spend your time there. 

And if you ever happen to get bored there, you can always just go shopping for souvenirs and relax in one of the many lovely cafes afterwards. 

You can even see the Sky Tower in the background
 Furthermore, my friend and me had really delicious sushi there in an authentic restaurant! 

There's also a variety of vegetarian and vegan restaurants and cafes


Hamilton is just a short hop from Auckland. Honestly, I don’t think Hamilton has that much to offer. Except for free WIFI in the city center, which is something every backpacker appreciates. 

What I really loved about it though was the Hamilton Gardens
This huge botanical garden is split into lots of different little gardens, each of them having their own theme. 

Each of the gates led to a differently themed garden.
 My favorite gardens are the Indian Char Bagh Garden, the Italian Renaissance Garden and the Chinese Scholar’s Garden, all of them belonging to the so-called Paradise Garden Collection

Indian Char Bagh Garden. I'm so loving its colorfulness!
Italian Renaissance Garden
Chinese Scholar’s Garden
Other themes were for example: American Modernist Garden, Japanese Garden of Contemplation, Surrealist Garden, Tropical Garden, Victorian Flower Garden, Te Parapara Maori Garden, Tudor Garden, The Sustainable Backyard, Herb Garden and many many more.  

Te Parapara Maori Garden

What I enjoyed as well during my stay in Hamilton was taking a stroll at the riverside of NZ’s longest river, the 425 kilometers long Waikato River.  

What are your thoughts on big cities - are you rather the type who likes being amidst the hustle and bustle of city life or do you prefer it a bit more quiet and laid back?

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