Auckland Layover – Kiwi For One Day
During my recent trip to the Cook Islands I had a layover twice in Auckland. Once on the way over to Aitutaki and one on the way back home. This gave me the opportunity to experience what life is about in New Zealand and be a kiwi for a day!
Kiwi is used throughout the world as a nickname for the people from New Zealand, it comes from the flightless bird which is the national symbol of New Zealand. It was first used as a symbol in the military as regimental signs in the late 1800s.
People of New Zealand are still mostly referred to as Kiwis, but another national sign is the fern. This is now used as a symbol of their national airline, Air New Zealand but the best known reference is the national rugby team, the All Blacks who have it as a logo on their team outfits.
So when I was wandering around the airport of Auckland, I couldn’t resist to buy a souvenir of the All Blacks!
My Trip To Auckland
My trip to Auckland was a long one as I flew from Denpasar to Bangkok, then to Perth, continued to Melbourne and arrived very early morning at Auckland airport. This journey took me just over a day and I would have a 14 hour layover in Auckland.
Before arriving in Auckland I had already made up my mind about what to do during my layover. I wanted to give my luggage into holding at the airport and then take a bus to explore the city. So I checked the airport website and found that there were several services that allow you to store your luggage.
The cost for holding a large suitcase for 24 hours was quite cheap actually, it was 16 NZD which comes to less than 10 Euros a day.
As I had arrived early morning in Auckland, around 5.15 AM, I didn’t have any plans yet. I got through immigration without any hassle and got a stamp with a fern in my passport.
First thing I wanted to do was get something to drink and eat and then head out to get a ticket for the SkyBus so I could visit the city. I went over to a money exchange office and sold the leftover Euros, US Dollars and Indonesian Rupiah I had left to get some New Zealand Dollars.
When you walk out of the arrivals hall of the airport, you walk straight into the kiosk of SkyBus so you can’t miss it. Even though it was early morning, there was a big queue of people waiting to buy tickets so decided to skip it. I crossed the road to the smoking area beside the Novotel and sat down to watch the sun come up.
After about half an hour I went back to the kiosk and got my ticket for the SkyBus which would take me into the city center. A round trip ticket will cost you 28 NZD and you can either pay with cash or credit card. Just note that they won’t accept American Express, so either use a Visa or MasterCard.
When purchasing a ticket for the bus you will receive a brochure which has the timetable of the busses and a map with all the stops on the route to and from the city.
The bus wasn’t very packed at all, the only inconvenience I had was that I chose to travel with a trolley as hand luggage instead of a backpack. At least I didn’t have carry any weight on my back and could drag it behind me, but with a backpack you’re a bit more mobile.
The main attraction I wanted to see in the city was the famous Sky Tower, so I decided to get off the bus at Queen Street where the Town Hall is located. The map inside the SkyBus brochure turned out to be very useful as it helped me to navigate around town and first thing I looked for was a place to sit down and have a tea. Yeah I’m not a coffee kinda guy, my stomach just can’t handle it.
Luck was on my side and the first place I noticed was a Starbucks, Chai tea latte here I come! I’m seriously addicted to this stuff… The tea woke me up and I decided to go wandering through town and I no longer needed the map in the brochure as the city hosts a free WiFi network to which you can connect with your smartphone.
The coverage was good in most parts of the city and it helped tremendously. My first target was the Sky Tower and you honestly can’t miss it, because every time you walk around a corner, you’ll be able to see it.
It only took me about ten minutes to navigate through the streets and I managed to snap the much wanted selfie with the Sky Tower in the background.
I didn’t go up the Sky Tower though, I was too exhausted from being on 4 flights and didn’t want to queue up to get a ticket. Instead I decided to head down Lower Queen Street and visit the marina. I got myself a sandwich and sat on a bench by the water, overlooking all the commuting boats coming in.
It was surreal sitting there, thousands of miles away from home, a 12 hour time difference and even a completely different season. Back in Belgium spring was at its peak (with crap weather though) and in New Zealand autumn was setting in. Tree leaves were changing colours, but the sun was out in all its glory, bathing me in a comfortable warm temperature. It made me sleepy and I felt myself nodding away while thinking about life…
After a spending a couple of hours at the marina I decided to head back into town and go back to Aotea square. There is an old Maori welcoming arch which was made by Selwyn Muru, who’s a Maori sculptur. The arch was fabricated with wood and copper and is called a Waharoa, meaning gateway in the Maori language.
After another dose of Chai tea latte I headed back to the bus stop and waited for the SkyBus to take me back to the airport. My flight to Rarotonga would leave at 7.30 PM and I wanted to spend some time at the business class lounge of Air New Zealand. This would give me a chance to fresh myself up and get something to drink and a bite to eat…
On the way home from the Cook Islands I would have a 18 hour layover again and I didn’t see myself wandering around the city for so long so I decided to book a hotel at the airport. Usually hotels can only be booked for a night, but I knew some hotels also offered day rooms.
A quick browse around the internet later I managed to find a website called Between9and5 which acts as a booking platform for day use hotel rooms. I was able to book a room at the Novotel hotel, located right outside the airport, that I could use between 8am and 8pm. Although the room didn’t come cheap, I decided to go ahead and book it for 199 NZD (about 122 Euros).
The reason for booking this hotel room was just to be at ease as the trip home from Aitutaki all the way to Belgium would take me 4 days! This way I could relax, fresh up and maybe even take a nap while staying at the hotel. It would break up the trip into several pieces and make it less tiring. Although I shouldn’t nag about getting tired from being on a plane, as last year December I did a 7 day trip which took me around the world twice and only spend 1 night in a hotel!
The entire day I did nothing much, besides catch up on some writing for the several travel blogs I write for. A review of the Novotel hotel will appear on InsideFlyer.nl and I’m currently catching up on other travel stories from my 3 week trip. I’m also in the process of getting all the pictures online shortly, so much work but I ain’t complaining!
I will leave you with a picture of the statue of Jean Batten, a woman that meant so much to the aviation history.
Till next time!