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October 20, 2009

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Having just moved to Auckland from Toronto about 6 months ago, these are the things I love about Auckland...

- Mt Eden. It's possibly the best view in the city. (And, yes, I've been up the Sky Tower). Great place to just relax and take in the views on a nice day. Weekdays are better since it can get busy with tourists on nice weekends.

- The French Cafe. The best food I've ever eaten in my entire life. It's a little pricey but worth the splurge. Though I didn't try it, the degustation menu has been raved about by just about everyone I know.

- Karekare and Piha beaches. They're just so pretty. Ridiculously pretty. The drive there/back from Auckland is almost equally enjoyable (and pretty).

- Mission Bay is nice, too. Lots of little restaurants/cafes/etc.

- The ZOOM experience at the zoo is awesome, too. Again, a little pricey, but you get to go behind the scenes and feed a hippo, giraffe and a lion, pet a rhino and do some other cool stuff. Very cool if you're into animals and close-encounter type stuff.

You must have a flat white while you're here. If you don't like coffee, have a hot chocolate. They take their hot beverages seriously here and it shows. Everything's yummy.

http://www.aucklandnz.com/index.php/landing_A/?L1=38 is a good place to see what various events are happening in Auckland, as well.


Enjoy your trip! It's an amazingly beautiful country and the people here are all very easy-going, social and fun. At least, the people I've run into so far. :)

I've never gotten the "I don't want to see what tourists go to" thing.

"Must-see" attractions are must-see for a reason. They are usually extraordinary.

I also think that it's very hard to "experience life as a local would" when you are only passing by. Popular tourist destinations tend to be popular because they combine some element of localness with added elements of accessibility and entertainment.

Most San Franciscans don't cross the Golden Gate Bridge very often. Most live at home and go to work in SF and then return to their home. This doesn't mean you shouldn't go to the GG Bridge.

Eat fusion cuisine in Auckland and Wellington, Malaysian and Burmese food, fish and chips (of course), lamb, forget the beef and chicken 100 percent. Don't order them once.

I very much like Napier. Do "quaint" things, like shopping for tea cozies. Try to rent a cabin for a day or two away from a city. Drink their wacky fruit juices. Go for walks. Don't expect too much culture or good art to look at. The Pacific materials in the Auckland museum are superb, however.

I do tend to agree with Ben, although also appreciate the desire for an authentic experience that suits your interests. So here's some responses to your bullet pointed points:

"I could not care less about the Things You Must See. Any landmark featured on a postcard does not require my presence."

Fair enough. Guess you won’t be dressing up as a bee and posing in front of the Beehive then.*

In terms of things not necessarily on the figurative Things You Must See list, but that you must in fact see/do I’d recommend:

- Havana coffee and the chocolate brownie at Deluxe on Kent Terrace
- Watching a movie at the Embassy Theatre (conveniently located next to Deluxe)
- Going to a play at Bats and/or Downstage
- Getting a barperson to read your cocktail personality at Matterhorn (nb: this isn’t actually an official tourism product – I’m just immensely indecisive when it comes to drinks of choice and luckily they’re skilled in the realm of tastebud reading)
- The Writers Walk
- The Sunday food markets
- Fidel’s Café on Cuba St
- Havana on Wigan St
- Sweet Mother’s Kitchen on Courtenay Place.

* People don't actually do this.


"I will not personally be carrying around a camera, and thus will not need to visit anything in front of which tourists cluster and give the thumbs-up."

Refer to sentences one and two in above comment.


"Actually, I want to actively avoid most places tourists go. I care more about existing amidst NZ life as it's lived; I can see the damned Sky Tower on Google Earth. The one exception is museums, but I'd be going to those anyway, even if I lived near them. (Smaller art galleries I'm definitely interested in.)"

This is good. We have lots of museums. Te Papa is the national one, Museum of Wellington is the local one, and there’s a cricket one, a Cable Car one, a Katherine Mansfield one and probably some others.


"I will, at least some of the time, be carrying around field recording gear, so sonic richness is a plus."

For sonic richness of the urban variety, I’d suggest hanging out along the waterfront about 8am on a weekday. People transport themselves to work in a variety of ways here (bike, walk, rollerblades, skateboard, running etc) and it can make for quite an aurally interesting experience given the changing underfoot patterns of the developed infrastructure. For sound recording of the natural variety, do a night tour at ZEALANDIA – it’s a sanctuary about 10 minutes’ drive from the CBD and you can hear kiwi calls. The males are the high pitched ones and the females are of a lower vocal tone. Please note, I am talking about birds here, as in animals. Not 'Kiwis' as in the colloquial reference to people of New Zealand descent.


"I tend to prefer the built urban environment to the suburban or rural. But I realize that this is one of those breathtaking-majesty-of-nature countries, so I'm keeping my mind open like a well-functioning parachute. (It may say something that I'd originally considered doing the less nature-y north island only.)"

This is also good as ‘built urban environment’ is what Wellington does. Although one of our key marketing pillars is ‘nature close to the city’ and Wellington is in the North Island so I am somewhat concerned the ‘less nature-y’ reference means our marketing team need to step it up a bit. I’ll have a word. Wellington’s downtown is pretty small – read 2km in diameter – so I won’t tell you where to go, you’ll find it.


"I never made it to the second and third Lord of the Rings movies."

So the movie tour circuit probably isn’t going to be your thing. If you’re out Miramar way (which you probably won’t be as it’s quite suburban and I note you don't really do suburban or rural), go and have a coffee at Café Polo and check out the Weta Cave.


Art galleries and the like are listed on www.WellingtonNZ.com and we also run www.texture.co.nz when we've got our underground hat on. The latter is a good point of reference for music gigs that are on when you're in town.

We're also on Twitter at @Wellington_NZ if you want to be kept in the loop when you're about/on your way.

Enjoy.

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I also think that it's very difficult to "experience lifestyle as a regional would" when you are only moving by. Well-known holiday locations are generally popular because they incorporate some factor of localness with included components of availability and enjoyment.

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