New Zealand is known for a lot of great things, like its gorgeous and unparalleled natural scenery. However it is also known for being very costly! Everything is way more expensive than both Americans and Europeans are used to. We saw a family traveling from the Netherlands who also complained about the price of everything, except for chocolate! Food in general is pricey, whether shopping in the grocery store or going to low-medium scale restaurants. We did not even venture into upscale restaurants since we already found the normal ones very expensive. Alas, it was not exactly surprising that the breakfast at our hotel was way too over priced. Hence we ate a random assortment of things we had saved from our RV's fridge and the kids drank small milk packets the hotel provided for tea and coffee....mmmm...breakfast of champions....!
The trip to the airport and our flight from Christchurch to Auckland went smoothly, without anything overly exciting to report, which is always good when you talk about flying. After a quick call to our car rental company, they picked us up and brought us to our teeny tiny car! What a difference between this 'zippy' car and our motorhome! We felt very cramped in our tiny car for sure, and hubby complained about feeling like an ant on the road, but we did enjoy the faster acceleration and the ability to pretty much park anywhere. You might be wondering why we didn't continue our NZ trip in a motorhome. The answer is quite simple, and it is an honest one, price! From December 14th, almost all companies start charging much more per day, as they begin charging their 'Holiday' rates. Since we have a budget for our around the world travels, we did not want to pay the higher rate, hence entered the cheap zippy car.
We spent the evening checking out Auckland, and I don't know if it is because we were there in the evening when everything is pretty much closed, or the fact that in my mind I had pictured Auckland as a hopping, crowded city, but whatever the reason, we were less than impressed. Sorry Auckland! Though our hotel was located more in the suburbs, we ventured into the center of the city and found a restaurant that self proclaimed the authenticity of their New York pizza by naming themselves "Sal's Authentic New York Pizza". The pizza was yummy and certainly hit close to the mark of a good New York pizza, by far the best we've had since leaving the states. The walls were decorated with pictures of the New York skyline, which made me slightly homesick, and I don't think the emptiness of the streets helped the situation any.
We took a walk over to Queens Wharf, and as you can see in the pictures below, encountered pretty much no one!! The kids had fun jumping around and kicking a can. I do wonder if the place gets busy during the day, since there were quite a few spots to sit and relax. We also saw a funny Christmas tree made of donated bicycles. Cool Idea!
All in all, Auckland as a city will forever remain a bit lackluster for us. Maybe it is not fair to judge a big city based on seeing a small section of it for only a few hours in the evening, but as they say, first impressions are key!
Have you been to Auckland? What do you think of the city?
Elmer the Elf's Update
Elmer arrived at our hotel with some chocolate from the North Pole and a sweet note to wish us well on our travels. We hope he doesn't have a hard time finding us in the North Island.