Auckland and Surrounds

Auckland Travel Blog

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Fat Boy and friends at Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World
Left Hamilton area today to head off to Auckland to stay with our friends Matt, Mel & Elijah for a few nights.  We stopped between Hamilton and Cambridge at the Tamahere Farmers Market - lots of lovely locally produced food, wine etc., plus crafts.  We saw some pressed tin work at the Waikato Museum done by a Uruguayan lady who now lives here, and the actual artist was at the farmers market with her work.  Driving to Auckland was pretty easy from Hamilton, but just on the outskirts the traffic on the motorway became horrendous.  Not sure if it was just regular Saturday traffic or because of the Chinese New Year festivities, but the whole motorway came to a halt so it took us forever to get into Auckland.
View of Auckland from Devonport
  We used our Auckland map (very cleverly bought by Noel in Huntly!) to take us up to Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World to calm us down ($27pp but you can get discounts in the tourist booklets).  Kelly Tarlton was a NZ Jacques Cousteau who created a walk through aquarium in the old sewerage ponds.  It's done really well, and you also get to see divers feeding the fish, rays, sharks etc..  The start of the exhibition is actually all about the Antarctic expeditions and you walk through replicas of the old huts.  You then go on a snowmobile ride which takes you through the penguin tanks - the highlight is the 22kg penguin called Fat Boy - and yes, he is huge!  We spent the rest of the night drinking wine and BBQing with Matt & Mel so very relaxing!
The next day M&M dropped us at the ferry terminal and we took the ferry across to Devonport, about a 10 minute ride away.  This is a lovely old town with beautiful homes, and lots of nice cafes and shops.  We walked up to the lookout on Mt Victoria and got a great view of Auckland from the top - it's a bit of a hike ,but not too bad (unless you've just enjoyed the big breakfast, in which case you should probably let it settle first!).  Matt drove us back around the bays, and then we headed home to watch the Aussies lose the cricket (again!).
The following day we went into Auckland with Matt (who had to work) and had a quick walk around the centre before catching the ferry across to Waiheke Island.  This takes about 35m and costs can vary dependingon whether you just get the ferry ($28pp) or do the ferry/tour/bus combo ($42pp) - you also get a 15% discount with Fullers on these tours and trips if you hold a YHA card - nice if we'd remembered that at the time!  We did the tour option, and a great driver took us over the main areas of the island and gave us lots of information about where we were.  Some of the beaches are stunning, great for swimming and quite safe - apparently no-one has ever drowned off the Waiheke beaches.  The main township just up from the ferry terminal is Oneroa, and we had lunch here in a cafe that was perched on a hill so had views from every angle.  There are lots of wineries on Waiheke and thousands of olive trees being planted.  We wandered around a couple of galleries and shops then walked back down to the ferry to go home.  The package did include an unlimited bus ticket as well, but we didn't really need that for where we went.  If you had more time to spend, it would be quite useful.  Once back in Auckland, we walked over to the Victoria Park Markets - pretty similar to the Aussie ones like Queen Vic or Paddys - some really nice stuff but lots of junk as well.  We got the bus back to M&M's which was nice, drove along the bay roads so a very pleasant ride.
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Fat Boy and friends at Kelly Tarlt…
Fat Boy and friends at Kelly Tarl…
View of Auckland from Devonport
View of Auckland from Devonport
photo by: Fulla