Travelogue | Experience 5 days in Auckland for SGD1400

Oh yea... finally a little dream come true. A trip to the City of Sails, Auckland, the North Island of New Zealand. We have been putting off the plan because the tour package is a little expensive (though worth) and also if we were to travel free and easy, not courageous enough to self-drive (never try before to drive in foreign land). So only this year we decided to plan for a short one (which is a stupid decision though) and never look back. That avoided us from much disappointment. Truly.

Honestly speaking, our impression of New Zealand is all about Hobbiton and Kiwi, their national pride. Then was asked me to find out more on Lonely Planet guide and it did helped a little with some useful information. I have to emphasize that my travel plan might seem lousy to you but it was just perfect for us to some extent because we followed our own pace, relax and travel like a wanderer. Eh... so to say, relying on our own instinct.

Welcome to Aotearoa (New Zealand), 
the Land of the Long White Cloud.
A unique mix of Maori and European Culture.

City Farmers' Market | Britomart
Every Saturday from 8am to 12.30pm

We arrived late at night so there were nothing to look forward to except heading to the nearest shop which was 10 mins walk from where we stay. But lucky us. Because the next day, we headed out for breakfast and navigated our way to Britomart. Unknowingly, there was a weekend market right in front of the public space called Takutai Square. Time to eat.

| Kiwi Tucker - Mussel Fritters |

This stall looks promising because there were queues actually. We ordered a Seafood Fritter and of course, Mussel Fritter. Pricey and wasn't fantastic. A slice of bread spread with margarine, topped with the fritter in the middle then sunny sideup. The mussels though, were quite big. 

| Toastie Bros |

Another promising one but this is like another Expectation vs Reality. At 8 bucks, it was something which my hub can't help feeling unworthy but I think otherwise. Because in Singapore, the price for such sandwiches are about the same and if you want to get a decent and cheaper ones, Subway is the best choice.

Well... this is how it looks after a toast. It wasn't too bad for me and I quite like the taste. This is the Bacon Bro, sandwich with bacon (of course), tomato, gouda and brown sauce. A portion just nice for one to fill their morning stomach. They have another 3 choices so do look out for it.

A chilly Saturday morning and if you have time to spare, watch live cooking demonstrations at The Social Kitchen Theatre which is just beside the stalls. You can takeaway your food and hop on the grass field for a picnic or just spend your morning away in daze, clearing your mind after a 5 days of work.

Smart Sushi | Britomart

Our plan was just to follow our heart or whatever comes in sight for food choices so that we won't be so restrained with those must-eat food in New Zealand. Here we are at Smart Sushi, a dine-in and takeaway shop for everyone's convenience. The seating capacity is limited so grab your seat fast just outside their shop. But be reminded that you will be eating everything cold, at least for this period. Takeaway back to hotel or hostel will be a better option.

Probably you have realized but yes... I admit we are very silly with our choices as you can see similar ones. Well... this is what happens when we think a bigger portion is more worthy the price paid and everything must be big portion, if you are hungry like us on a chilly day. Anyway, average taste and can be better.  

Le Petit Cafe | Takeaway Kiosk/Cafe
12 Queen Street, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Corner of Customs Street & Queen Street, Auckland CBD

This is one nice and cheap coffee kiosk you can ever find here (at least for us). Lucky us. At $4 for a large cup, you can get a hot Latte to warm yourself up on this chilly weather. Not just that but others like Cappuccino, Flat White and more. You can smell the coffee aroma while waiting for your drink.

To get the best out of your holidays, roam like a wanderer. You will be fascinated by what you see like the heritage buildings along the streets or hidden in the alley. My husband and I love it but you must really know how to appreciate such buildings. Plus people watching and you will find a mix cultural scene in this City. It actually reminded me of my holidays in Melbourne, Australia. Everything just feels and looks so much the same. 

- Queen Street -
- Blacketts Building -
- Corner of Queen Street and Vulcan Lane -
- Vulcan Lane -
- John Loft -
- Administration House -
Ferry Building

Orams Marine Village Boat Park
Located in downtown Auckland, between Westhaven Marina and the Viaduct

Came across this place while on a half day city tour with Great Sights. Called me an ignorance woman but this is the first in my life seeing so many boats being housed under one roof. There are 310 berths to house up to 12 m long boats. A 24 hours security and conveniently near the water to drive off to the sea. Just have the boat lift to retrieve your boat. That is a challenging job if you are not trained well. The damage can cost you a lifetime. At least for me. But don't you think is cool rather than leaving them out on the sea when not in use? And of course you have to pay to park your boat here. 

Mission Bay - Tamaki Drive

It was a short one visit for about 30 mins or so. A busy street on a Saturday afternoon, full of people walking around and also pokemon hunters over at the big green field. Manage to catch a few before we head for a quick coffee fix at Dos Amigos Cantina recommended by our tour guide. Plus churros. How is it enough for a churros lover like me? Hot and crispy, dipped in chocolate sauce. Shut up and take my money!

Auckland War Memorial Museum 
(also known as Auckland Museum)

If you are a museum goer, this one is for you. The Maori, Natural History, Warfare History and War Memorial galleries will fill half of your day or even the whole. Not to worry if you get hungry in the midst of appreciating the galleries, they are a cafe that serves a variety of food and drinks. And there is a museum gift store where you can grab something for keep-sake. We walked a long way here from our hotel and just gonna make sure we never miss any part of the galleries, as well as the outside.

And if you are interested to know more about the Maori, watch the cultural performance where they sing and dance. They also showcase the weapons used to fight in the war and many more. 

This is the Natural History gallery and I personally find it similar to the scene in the movie A Night in the Museum.  I think I have not been visiting museums for the longest time and find myself a little restless as we go along. Only perks me up when I saw something interesting like in the War Memorial gallery.

Now I shall leave it to you to explore and I would suggest you buy the Tui Package which consists of museum entry and Maori Cultural Performance. All at NZD45. If you have no where to go for the day, best place ever.

If you take a closer look, the war scenes are portrayed on the entablature of the building, along with the name of places where the New Zealanders fight during war time. Wars are really bitter times and it gets worse when lives are lost. Seriously, make peace and no war anymore.

Right in front of the museum is a big piece of greenery. So green and therapeutic. And a group of boys down there playing rugby. What a nice view! This photo ain't doing justice to the real sight I had. But you can be the judge.

Sky Tower

Like any other countries (eg. Macau, Taiwan, Japan and more), a very touristy place to visit will be the highest building/tower in the country. It is all about 360º skyscraper view from the top. You feel like the 'King of the World'! Joking. And then there is this Skyjump and Skywalk thingy. Very similar yet the view is totally different. Have you been to one before? I guess you have.

And there you have it, a view of Harbour Bridge over the Waitemata Harbour. And if you take another closer look, there is a segment where yachts docked. And that is a lot in my opinion.

At NZD28, you get access to the cafe at Level 50 and the panoramic view of Auckland City at Level 51 and 60. Grab souvenirs at the gift shop before you leave if needy.

Hobbiton | Matamata

Welcome to Hobbiton. I think the only must-do thing for us in New Zealand is to visit this beautiful place, experiencing the life of a Hobbit and everything becomes real when you step into their world. Familiar scenes in the film of Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit trilogies. I can't help giving that silence scream in me and keep going wow WoW WOW!!! You will be guided along the way to the Green Dragon Inn for a nice drink before proceeding for lunch at the yellow tentage where Hobbits hold their parties.

My Travel Plan

Fly with Air New Zealand
I bought the air tickets during their promotion for $774.10 per pax. Consider reasonable as you fly in comfort for 10 hours on direct full-fledged flight. My first time travelling more than 7 hours and also a time-zone difference of 4 hours (ahead of Singapore time). I would suggest to extend 1 more day for this trip to Auckland to compensate back the 1 day on flight. And you might be able to go further to other parts of North Island for exploration.

Stay at Copthorne Hotel Auckland City 
I booked through for the first time and am quite comfortable with paying upon check-in. Paid NZD 440 per room for 2 pax (about SGD 448) + NZD 200 refundable deposit. The deposit is meant to deduct whatever charges incurred during your stay. For us, we had our beer sessions at their bar. So balance we get back during check-out is after deduction of our beers. And if you want to leave your luggage at the hotel and go for last min shopping, the hotel can do so for free. Just ask them over the counter.

Return transfer by Super Shuttle
At about SGD 35 per pax, I find it reasonable for a journey around 45 mins to 1 hour from airport to hotel to airport. 

Hobbiton Movie Set tour by Bush and Beach 
I booked this tour via Expedia and paid about SGD 268 per pax which includes pick up and return to hotel, guided tour, lunch and NZD 10 voucher for your purchase at the gift store. I definitely find this visit worthwhile because, how many times will you visit New Zealand? Once or twice. So while you are there, do book the tour. Experience the life of a Hobbit. Plus that 4 hours to and fro journey (2 hours each) from Auckland to Matamata, you get to see lots of scenic views.

Half day afternoon city tour by Great Sights
I booked via City Discovery and why I choose afternoon tour is because I worried we couldn't get enough rest because we were on the flight the day before for almost the whole day. At about SGD 54, you get a rough idea of the place and thereafter, you can start exploring on your own. This is what I usually think and half a day tour is really helpful for me even if it is a touch and go thing. Luckily we were at Mission Bay for a quick coffee and also catch pokemon. The crowd there is comparable to the ones in Singapore. 
Places of Interest
  • Britomart
  • Queen and Princes Wharf
  • Queen Street
  • Sky Tower at Federal Street
  • Walk past The University of Auckland and Albert Park along Kitchener Street
  • Auckland War Memorial Museum
  • Hobbiton Movie Set tour
  • View of Harbour Bridge
  • Viaduct Harbour
  • Countdown Supermarket
  • Mission Bay
  • Parnell Village
I quite enjoy this trip because we didn't rely much on transportation to get us around (except for the tours). We rely mostly on our own navigating ability and strong legs to get us around. People watching and experience a Kiwi lifestyle is quite fun despite an injured ankle. Given the chill weather, it is better than to walk under the hot sun which will only make you feel lethargic easily.

So in total, I spend about SGD 1,355.10 per pax and that excludes expenditure over at Auckland. Please remember to buy a basic travel insurance at affordable price (I always get mine from NTUC Income) and also register with Ministry of Foreign Affairs just in case. A must thing even for just 2 or 3 days trip. So this is just a basic guide. Worthy or not? For you to tell. Enjoy!