How To Make The Most Of A Long Weekend In Auckland

For a lot of travellers arriving in New Zealand, Auckland will be your first port of call after you get off that long flight! The misconception, I know we certainly had when we first visited NZ was that there wasn’t a lot to do in Auckland, the longer we lived (1.5 years in total!) in Auckland the more we discovered this wasn’t quite true.

Auckland certainly is a great place to base yourself for your first 2-3 nights in NZ as you adjust to a new country and time zone. Or if you’re like us and just want to visit the city for the weekend (something we did recently now that we live in Wellington) we do have a few suggestions of what you can do during a long weekend in Auckland:

Friday – You long weekend in Auckland starts here, Welcome to The City of Sails!

long weekend getaway to auckland

If you’re coming from the airport, its easier to just jump in a taxi upon arrival, the new motorway from the airport to the CBD (which opened last year) has sped up the time it takes getting to the city. Yes, you could wait around for a shuttle, but you would be roughly paying around the same price, and the shuttle doesn’t take you to the door!

On this occasion we decided to travel the slow way to Auckland from Wellington, we decided to take the North Explorer, the North Islands only rail service.

Why? Did I hear you ask! Well, we had time on our hands and thought it would be a good way to see some more stunning scenery of the North Island that we had not yet done before. I wouldn’t recommend it if you were a visitor to this country for a few weeks as you would be skipping out on a lot of the best bits of the North Island, but it is certainly a great way to travel for domestic tourists.

The journey in total was 10 hours and it was the most incredibly relaxing way to reach Auckland in our opinion, we were more tired on our return journey flying back to Wellington with Air New Zealand.  It must be something to do with airports, they can be just too stressful! Here is a little video of what we got up to on the North Explorer!

For us, the best place to stay in our opinion in Auckland is either in a centrally located Air B&B (close to the harbour) or one of the Waldorf Apartment Hotels. They are cheap, (but not too cheap), comfortable, clean and central.

Use your arrival day to get acquainted with the beautiful waterfront of Auckland. From the ferry terminal, you can walk all along the water’s edge, past the beautiful Wynyard Quarter (lots of great cafes and bars to choose from here) around to Silo Park (in the summer they put on free movies here, its great) and around towards Westhaven Drive and the Harbour Bridge. An even better idea would be to hire a bike and cycling the fully pedestrianized route in half the time.

Other great central parts of Auckland that are worth exploring on this day or another day would be Auckland War Memorial Museum, a must for any history lover and Auckland’s Sky Tower (you can’t miss this from the skyline of Auckland!). The telecommunications and observatory tower is home to SKYCITY entertainment complex with many bars and restaurants and even a casino. There’s a lift that will take you to the top to check out the incredible views of Auckland and if you want you can also jump off the building and walk around the top of the tower!

sky tower goingnz
A Must Do: Auckland’s Sky Jump

For dinner and drinks, we suggest anywhere in Britomart. It’s not just a train station anymore! This area has been revitalised with a small shopping mall and lots of bars and eateries overlooking the water. If you want somewhere romantic check out XuXu Bar, it’s quite hidden and down a side alley, their cocktails are incredible and the dumplings are just the perfect match!

Saturday – Explore the Hauraki Gulf:

Waiheke Island
Wine O’Clock of Waiheke Island

No trip to Auckland is complete without getting out on the water and exploring the harbour. We certainly think you have to visit Waiheke Island. We LOVE Waiheke Island, when we lived in Auckland we would always jump at any opportunity to visit the island. The island is just a short 35 minute ferry ride away but offers you a completely different pace of life! If you want a taster of what NZ is like outside of Auckland then visit Waiheke Island. To check out what to get up to on Waiheke click on our article here.

Another great island that we love is Rangitoto Island. It is basically an extinct volcano in the middle of the harbour. Fullers ferries will get you there is less than 20 minutes, take a packed lunch (as there is nowhere to buy lunch on the island) and go off and explore at your own pace. The most popular thing to do here is to climb to the top (takes about an hour) to the lookout spot, but we also love taking the detours to other sections of the island, don’t worry though, you can’t get lost!

Rangitoto Island
Rangitoto Island – A great day trip

Other ways to explore the harbour would be by the Americas Cup sailing experience (we are yet to try, but hear it’s great) or by getting out west to The Riverhead Tavern. An awesome pub/restaurant that offers some really great outdoor seating. Every Saturday they run a cruise that departs from the ferry terminal, it’,s a great way to see the harbour in all its glory!

 

Do what the locals do We personally love heading to where the locals go whilst we are on vacation and this boat cruise and an afternoon at their restaurant really does tick those boxes!

For evening activities, we would suggest staying late on Waiheke Island if possible to enjoy dinner at one of Waiheke’s best vineyards (we love Mudbrick and Cable Bay) or restaurants as the last ferry returns at 10 pm or if you chose one of the other harbour options above, then dinner and drinks at the Wynyard Quarter would be a good alternative!

Sunday: Discover More – Get Further.

Mission Bay – Simply Beautiful

The one thing we miss about Auckland now we live in Wellington really has to be the beaches! We never even knew that Auckland had some spectacular beaches until about 6 months into our 1.5 year stay in Auckland. We suggest using your last morning/afternoon in Auckland to get further out of Auckland and explore the surrounding areas of this beautiful region. Our favourite beaches are:

Devonport, North Shore: This is a lovely little settlement just opposite the ferry terminal, the other side of the harbour bridge. The best way to get there is by jumping on the Fullers commuter ferry to Devonport which takes around 20 minutes. The white sandy beaches right next to the ferry terminal is a great spot to watch the world go by for a few hours!

Mission Bay: Mission Bay is a very popular place with the locals of Auckland. You can get here by taking bus number 61 from the ferry terminal. Or better yet if you hire a bike you can cycle along the waterfront (there are cycle lanes) to Mission Bay in under 20 minutes. The white sandy beaches here are swimming friendly as well as family friendly. We also love this place as it has our favourite bar just across the road, a Belgian beer bar!

Out West, Piha, Bethalls Beach and Murawai: If you have a car then West really is Best! If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city this is a great option, it is just 40 minutes from the city centre. It has some of the best black sand beaches in the region and is very popular for surfing. Every time we head out this way we get reminded why we love Auckland’s beaches so much!

Do you have a tip to share from your long weekend trip to Auckland? Feel free to share them in the comments below! 

Auckland Vs Wellington – Living in New Zealand

During our time spent in New Zealand we have lived in both Wellington and Auckland, we spent almost two years in Auckland when we first arrived into NZ and have been living in Wellington for the last 12 months. Now we have spent a considerable amount of time in each city we thought it was about time we did a comparison: Auckland Vs Wellington for anyone thinking of making the move down (or up!) to the big smoke or New Zealand’s capital.

You can read about the reasons why we left Auckland in favour of Wellington in our blog post here. We still stand by our decision to leave Auckland, in the long term our life there was just not feasible. Maybe if the housing market crashes it will be a different story but for now, it isn’t on the cards. That is not to say we don’t miss Auckland, we miss living in Auckland, the great bars we liked there, the sushi, the friends we made and the weather but thus far Wellington is the first place in New Zealand that we feel like we fit in.

But of course like anything, there is the grass is always greener attitude, Wellington has shown us it’s fair share of disadvantages too! Hopefully, this can help anyone who is thinking of moving out of Auckland or alternatively anyone who is currently overseas and thinking of making the move to NZ and is unsure of what city to start in.

I have covered 5 main factors, housing, people, transport, climate and geographical location. Please remember though this is a subjective viewpoint coming from a couple who have never really lived in a city larger than Auckland before…

After 18 months in Auckland it was time to move...
After 18 months in Auckland it was time to move…

Housing:

For us, cost of living is the biggest change we have noticed from our move from Auckland. The savings aren’t huge (I am talking a couple of hundred dollars a month) but housing down in Wellington is generally at a lower cost than Auckland. We can find a comfortable 2 bedroom apartment/house with outside space with a beautiful view of the sea rather than a busy road for around $450 per week. But on the flip side, the houses are actually a lot older and probably less modern than we are used to in Auckland. There are a lot of old properties here in Wellington that suffer from damp problems or have insufficient heating. But money talks, so it a win for us currently.

If you are interested in further comparing the cost of living to say your lives in England to here in NZ I would suggest you check out our recent Cost of Living Comparison article with our lives in Auckland compared to our old lives in England. We hope to do another one of these soon comparing Wellington to life in England – watch this space!

People make places:

People make places, fact! Another fact: While Wellington is a city, it’s town sized to most of us. The CBD itself is home to just 17,000 people, what? This means unlike Auckland, you’ll  find yourself bumping into the same people and noticing the same people around town!

Within the first week here we met a few people and they said Wellington is built on networks, and it is so true. It really is not what you know it is who you know and it is great. We love it, we get this small town feeling that Auckland couldn’t provide us with. We felt like a number in Auckland we are individuals here. Wellington is also full of unique, quirky individuals and being that is simply exciting. My slight craziness is accepted here. 🙂

The Transport:

Wellington has the SNAPPER card, Auckland has the ATHOP card. They are the same concepts. I would say the cost is about the same as well. But hardly anyone takes the bus here in Wellington! Wellington advertising itself as NZ most walkable city. And they are not wrong. With the CBD less than 2km’s long if you live in the CBD there is really no point in waiting for a bus, walking will get you there quicker.

Wellington also has electric buses. If sustainability is your thing, you will like that.

What about the traffic in Wellington? The commuters from the suburbs moan a little but we really don’t think they have much to moan about compared to Auckland’s issues. You really can’t compare it. There aren’t many highways in Wellington, 2 minutes out of the CBD and it is like driving through a town in England.

Auckland highways
Auckland’s network of highways run right the way through the city.

We loved the cycle lanes in Auckland. Sadly, Wellington isn’t as safe or as leisurely for cycling to work. The roads are often narrower, hilly and there are few bike paths – unlike in Auckland. People who cycle in Wellington sit in one of three camps:

  • Biceps like Hulk Hogan
  • Electric Bikes
  • Sweaty Beasts

Auckland, on the other hand, impresses me with their cycle ways and there continual improvements to the cycle paths. It is the city’s way to reduce the number of cars on the road and I do think in a good number of years they will achieve this. I appreciate the long-term approach Auckland have taken on this issue!

Auckland has the best cycle lanes
Known locally as the Pink Bridge, it connects Auckland’s network of cycle lanes up perfectly, making Auckland a safe place to cycle.

The Weather:

This is my biggest and ongoing annoyance with Wellington. Auckland, being at the top of the North Island obviously gets a better climate. My friends in Auckland told me, Wellington is windy, it is cold, Wellington doesn’t get a summer. My ignorance got the better of me, surely it can’t be that bad? But yes, they were right, it can be.

The inconsistency in the weather in Wellington lies in the wind and it can be pretty bad. Our first summer spent in Wellington wasn’t as bad we first expected it to be though, the wind does die down and summer although less humid than Auckland was a pretty stable one. It certainly was more consistent than the average British summer that is for sure! Please remember though this is a viewpoint coming from very British girl!

You can’t beat Wellington on a good day.

This is so true! On the flip side, when it is great here it is great. Wellington has one of the world’s best waterfronts, it is simply stunning. When the sun is shining Wellington has this vibe, everyone comes outside, everyone is happy and you don’t feel that in Auckland. Even though Auckland has better weather, Wellingtonians seem to appreciate the good days and that is priceless.

Wellington's Waterfront is world class!
When the sun is shining Wellington’s waterfront is the place to be.

Natural Disasters:

This is an issue I contemplated not bringing up on our blog. In November 2016 NZ got hit by a 7.8 earthquake. Although Wellington wasn’t the epicentre it still was felt very strongly here in the CBD. It was quite frankly the scariest thing to witness. I am not one for drama and I don’t like to blog too much about negative experiences, but the reality is it happened, and this blog is also about documenting moments in our life.

Those 60 seconds spent under the dining table (yes that is where we went!) when the earth beneath us shook also shook up my mindset. The fact that Wellington is built on a fault line is not an issue you should ignore either. It’s very possible that Wellington in the future will have other strong earthquakes.

When we moved to Wellington we didn’t even consider earthquakes. They are very serious and not something you’d want to experience. What we have taken away from the experience is to not be fooled by our naivety and realise everything is possible.

The council has been doing a great job since on educating Wellingtonians on what to do in case this happens again. If anyone is interested this website by the council has developed in leaps and bounds over the last year and we have found it very useful.

That being said Auckland is a city built on volcanoes, with more than 50 in a 100 Km area…

New Zealand is a young country in the grand scheme of things and is still very active.

As I have said before…

New Zealand really does have it all!

Labour Weekend getaway’s from Auckland for under $150

With October’s Labour Weekend just around the corner, a weekend getaway must be one your radar! The hectic city life can sometimes be too over whelming at times. Here are our top 5 weekend getaway spots to escape city life in New Zealand, make sure you click on each sub heading to find out more and get ready to fall in love again with the true beauty of New Zealand!

Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island

Where: – Just a 35 minute ferry ride from Auckland CBD is the nearest getaway spot for city lover’s you can see the city in the distance but feel a million miles away!

Cost:  A returns journey booked via book me and an Air BnB stay will set you back less than $100 for one night, grab some fish and chips on the beach and your in for a winner!

What we love: The laid back island life, the proximity to Auckland CBD and the friendliness of the locals.

Surf at Raglan
Surf at Raglan

Raglan

Where: A 2.5 drive South West of Auckland, follow highway one and turn off at Huntly, and head to the ocean you can’t go wrong.

Cost: Factoring in fuel for your trip, a stay in a camp site in town, and utilising a Grab One deal for a cheap eat, should only set you back $100 for one night.

What we love: Being by the sea, the surfing and the backpacking culture.

Beautiful Tauranga
Beautiful Tauranga

Tauranga

Where:  Another 2.5 hours drive but this time on the opposite coast (South East coast) follow highway one and turn off at signs to Thames.

Cost: Again a night in a campsite, a meal at Bobby’s Fresh Fish Market and fuel should set you back no more than $120 

What we love: Paddle boarding in the harbour, climbing Mount Maunganui for the views and the cool hip bars!

Kayaking at Snells Beach
Kayaking at Snells Beach

Snell’s Beach

Where: 1 hour north of Auckland is a lovely inlet with a some great camp sites drive to Warkworth and it is about 8km west. This is a really great quick escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Cost: I wouldn’t even factor fuel in it is so close, but a night in a camp site and food may just put you back $50. Stay at Bethshan Seaside Cottages and enjoy there free kayak’s!

What we love: The beaches, the small town vibes, the locals and how close it is to Auckland!

View from Cathedral Cove Carpark
View from Cathedral Cove Carpark

The Coromandel Peninsula

Where: This one is a little further away from the rest but still achievable, it is a 3 hour drive from Auckland we suggest staying at Hahei or Cook’s Beach.

Cost: Factoring in a stay at Purangi Winery for free, eating there delicious pizza’s and a tank of fuel at day in the peninsula will only set you back $80 bucks.

What we love: Hahei, Cathedral Cove, digging your own hot pool at hot water beach, cooks beach, kayaking, Purangi Winery pizzas, The Pinnacles, need I go on!

Where else would you escape for Labour Weekend?! Tips and comments below!

Why we are leaving Auckland

For us this has been is a difficult post to write. After over 18 months in Auckland and a lot of soul searching we have decided we are leaving Auckland. A combination of reasons has lead us to this decision!

Support Network:

When we first arrived in Auckland we stayed with Isaac’s grandmother for approximately three months. That time was great we travelled, enjoyed the summer and took the time to find a job and a flat! Our flat was just around the corner from a good friend of mine – a friend from home that I have known pretty much all of my life. For almost a year we had friends around the corner and a support network with Isaac’s family close by. Something we will be forever grateful for.

Then Isaac’s grandmother decided to move up north and my friend decided to move back to England. Within a space of a month we found ourselves feeling secluded in the largest city in NZ. Although we have made other friends through our jobs and Isaac still has some family around it just hasn’t been the same. Not enough to make us want to stay.

Our opportunities have widened:

I have recently become a freelancer – my own boss for the first time. A daunting, but exciting step for myself and one that has given me the freedom to live anywhere in NZ. Isaac already runs his own business and I have joined his club! With the power of the internet and working remotely as accessible as ever this means we can work from just about anywhere that has internet. We no longer have to be in a busy city.

House prices:

News flash – Auckland house prices are ridiculous! Talk about stating the obvious.

News flash – We are both hitting 30!

Something happens when you turn 30 you find yourself contemplating about the future. Sure, we have achieved a lot in our 20’s but purchasing our slice of this earth is not one of them. We know at some point we will need to place some roots down and one thing we do know is we want that place to be NZ but it just can’t be Auckland – we have to win the lottery first before that can happen! Without getting into a rant – this city really isn’t a place for first time buyers.

Our love for NZ:

Something we both agree on is our love for NZ. We love the people, the culture and the life style that NZ can offer us. And sadly Auckland just isn’t providing that for us at this point in our lives. You could argue Auckland isn’t a true representation of New Zealand – I don’t personally think this, but I do know if I wanted to live in a city then I could have just moved to…Bristol. It is all down to personal preference really, cities just aren’t our kind of places – we are Cornish after all!

So off we move to better pastures! House sitting is giving us the opportunity to live in other regions of NZ therefore we shall see where this takes us until we say “I want to live here” once more!

Sunsets in Auckland

We just love a good sunset! The majority of our weekends here in Auckland are pre planned, to ensure we are in a good location just as the sun is setting!

In our view is nothing is better than sitting some where together talking a load of nonsense as we watch the sun going down. We would like to share a few of our favourite sunset spots with you here in Auckland.

Go West:

When we really want to escape the city life we take a short day trip and head for the western beaches of either Piha or Bethall’s. Or we take the bikes and head to Woodhill Forest we stay all day just to witness moments like these!

piha
Piha
Bethalls beach sunset
Bethall’s Beach
sunrise woodhill
Woodhill Forest

Waiheke:

Waiheke Island is becoming a very special place to us. A short 35 minute ferry ride and we are back to nature, enjoying the great kiwi outdoors. This photo was taken at our Bach last October over the labour public holiday.

waiheke
Waiheke Island

At Evening Events:

This summer the weather has been at it’s best. February was the 2nd hottest summer on record for New Zealand! We definitely took advantage of the bright nights and the amazing sunset’s whilst out and about. Our favourite is watching the sunset at the numerous free outdoor cinema events Auckland council put on. Free movie, free chocolate surrounded by lots of people just out for a good time!

outdoor cinema auckland
Movies in the Park
silo park
Silo Park
Mt Smart Stadium, winter
Mt Smart Stadium at the Rugby!

In the Car!

Isaac is a bugger for stopping and snapping the skyline even if we are just in the car driving home! Auckland really does have the best sunsets!

Stuck in Traffic
Stuck in Traffic
auckland car
Just had to pull over!

And finally:

Mt Eden, is our favourite. It is just 2 minutes from our house and worth the climb every time. There is something about Mt Eden that is special, your are in the middle of the largest city in New Zealand yet you just don’t feel like you are. It’s become a peaceful spot for for us and one that get’s better each and every time.

mt eden sunset

The Cost of Living in New Zealand

The beginning of 2015 marked a year of living in New Zealand for us! Bring out the cake! We can now truly say we are now fully fledged NZ  residents! As we hit the landmark earlier last week, we thought it would be a good idea to go over our finances and publish a breakdown of our cost living in New Zealand vs living in the UK. As you can imagine, this was no small task – we’ve been putting it off… just a little!

There are so many debates these days about how much more expensive New Zealand really is compared to other places around the world. We are constantly hearing about how expensive it is to live in Auckland. And the truth is everyone’s comparison is different – depending on salary, lifestyle and other factors.

In this article we are discussing:

  • Where to compare costs in NZ to your current life;
  • Monthly costs of life in Auckland;
  • A supermarket cost comparison;

 

Life in Auckland
Life in Auckland, NZ

 

You have to do your research before you go:

If you want to do a broader search of the cost of things in New Zealand – as we may have missed a few things below then doing some research before you arrive into New Zealand would be a good idea. Aside from all the unexpected costs that can occur when making such a move, everyday living may come as a financial shock in a new country such as NZ.

A good place to start is to compare the cost of living in NZ with your current location, which can be browsed easily on sites such as Numbeo. This crowd-sourced website allows you to quickly discover the comparative costs of main points of interest, including rent, transport and a selection of groceries. Although not perfect (some of the data hasn’t been updated for 6 months of so) whether you’re coming from the UK, or elsewhere, this will give you a rough idea of how much your Sunday bacon will cost! ($9 bucks FYI!)

It is also worth noting that New Zealand has a GST rate of 15% on almost everything you purchase, with the exception of your income and financial transactions (renting a home or, say, bank charges). You are liable to pay all the GST and other taxes when you become part of the New Zealand’s society and economy.

While it’s useful to see these stats, it’s also important to factor in your new salary if you’ll be working in NZ. It’s no use looking at new costs, and how you will afford them, with your current earnings in mind! A good place to establish an approximate salary based on occupation guide can be found via the Trade Me website here.

cost of living NZ Going NZ

So now you know what your new salary and new living costs look like, but does this translate from your current financial situation and lifestyle?

To be able to comprehend how new living costs will affect you, you need to fully understand your current financial situation. This can be achieved by defining your current spend and disposable income, with a money planner. The website “Sorted” an independent money planner can help you with this! Check it out here!

By creating a tangible list, that takes into account all of your outgoings, you will also be able to recognise all of the infrequent necessities that require planning ahead, such as insurances, as well as the irregular demands that require additional money, such as car maintenance and everyday breakages!

With all of these demands in mind, you can wholly explore the transition of living costs from your current situation to that in NZ. This list of websites will help you calculate some of these core outgoings.

Household expenses (Bills):

Glimp and Power Switch can help you dertermine the cost of core households bills such as electricty and broadband.

Vehicle Costs:

New Zealand Transport Agency is where you go to register and license your car. More on this in our Driving in New Zealand article. And if you want to keep up to date on fuel prices here in NZ, the AA is the website to bookmark.

Insurance:

For all sorts of insurance quotes, health, life, mortgage, income protection Life Direct is a good place to start.

While it’s paramount to plan financially for all of your outgoings in NZ and your new home, don’t forget to think about your desired lifestyle. In calculating all of your costs, think about how you’d like to live in NZ and, hence, how you may intend to use your disposable income. Are you moving to the city where you’d like to enjoy the social scene? Will you have enough money to make that trip down south? It pays to think practically on all these matters.

Can we afford to live the kiwi dream?

So what are our cost’s after one year in New Zealand?

We wanted to know if we are better off living in the UK or New Zealand.

We dragged out all our old bills and comparing September 2014 with September 2015 costs (not summer in the UK and not quite winter in NZ, fair right?) and tried to generalize our monthly costs as much as possible! This comparison is calculated from our old lives in Falmouth, Cornwall to our lives in Auckland – NZ’s most expensive city might I add!

cost of living

Note: All prices are in GBP and converted at the current exchange at the time of writing this article. 

Please also note: Our lifestyle now compared to our lifestyle a year ago is fairly similar. In England we lived in a 2 bedroom apartment, had a ‘reasonably priced car’ and we both had jobs that didn’t require a long commute each morning. In Auckland we lived in a 2 bedroom apartment, have a ‘reasonably priced car’ and Isaac cycles to work (even in the rain!) and I cycle, take the bus and er walk (honestly!).

To summarize:

The figures really do speak for themselves. Auckland for us is around 300 GBP more expensive for us a month. After doing the maths, we came to the realization that perhaps the only difference is location – we now live in a small, but busy city in a fairly isolated country.

“You have to understand that for two people who come from a small coastal town in Cornwall, it’s a fairly different setting!”

Our flat here is on the main road whilst our flat in England overlooked the sea. The view at breakfast is just a little different! For the same views in Auckland city, we’d easily be looking at triple the rent. We live within our means.

So what about our supermarket shop? Is the price of food higher in New Zealand?

The above research lead me to think more and more about if NZ really does have high food prices, sure mozzarella is expensive ($11 FYI!) … but crisps are loads cheaper, do the costs even out over a grocery shop?

To settle the little argument in my head I thought it was about time I did a direct cost comparison of a grocery shop in the UK compared to a shop in NZ.

I enlisted my mother’s help in this (thanks, Mum!) however my original idea didn’t quite go to plan, I was hoping we could do a similar shop and compare the whole lot, it does seem we shop quite differently – she likes liver and onions (she really does!) for dinner, while I like grilled vegetables and halloumi! So, for the sake of this comparison, we’ve compared 9 essential everyday items like veg, milk, and fruit. Here are the results:

Brand in England if Applicable Brand in NZ if Applicable Volume in England Volume in New Zealand Price in England – GBP Price in New Zealand – GBP Winner?
Bananas N/A N/A 0.415kg 0.362kg 28p (58p a kg) 60p ENGLAND
Apples Gala Granny Smiths 0.517kg 1.55GBP 1.15 GBP NZ
Tomatoes N/A N/A 250g 1.55 GBP 3.91 GBP ENGLAND
Paracetamol Morrisons Basics Singature Range 16pp 20pp 30p 1.50 GBP ENGLAND
Facial Wipes  25pp 25pp 1.00 GBP 2.79 GBP ENGLAND
Tin Foil Homebrand Basics  30CM x 10M 30CM x 10M 2.74 GBP 1.12 GBP NZ
Milk  2L 2L 1.30 GBP 1.76 GBP ENGLAND
Snack Bars Special K Mother Earth  4pp 6pp 1.00 GBP 1.68 GBP ENGLAND
Ready Salted Crisps Walkers Singature Range  125g 150g 1.00 GBP 0.78 GBP NZ
*Exchange rate 0.56 pence to the dollar
TOTAL: 10.72 GBP 15.29 GBP
Percentage? 42.6% MORE

So which Country was cheapest?

“Our Results show New Zealand is on average 42.6% more expensive than the UK”

Hands down England was cheaper for a grocery shop! But I think we already knew that though didn’t we? What is interesting is the differences, some items differ a small amount and some differ hugely.

I can only hope that the almost double the cost of some of the veg items is down to the seasonal differences but what is with the high costs of products such as facial wipes and paracetamol?

I know my investigation is only a small representation of the price difference but I have a feeling if I did another comparison on some other products another time I would get the same result.

Going NZ cost of living
The small change matter’s to this little piggy.

To Conclude:

“I guess from the stats above you could say we are worse off, but we don’t like to think of it that way. As we now live in a country that excites us, we live in a country that has a better climate that offers us new opportunities.”

I think the lesson here for us is to stop analyzing it so much and think of New Zealand as a girlfriend. A high maintenance one at that! She is very good looking and has charm. To put up with the good lucks and charm of that sexy girlfriend we have to put our hands into our pockets and “Suck it up”. To live here in NZ the cost of living in New Zealand is something we have to start putting up with. This analogy this has really helped us clarify our thought process on the price issues.

As we roll into year two we are getting nearer to our lifestyle goals, something we felt wasn’t achievable back in the UK. We believe NZ is worth the extra expense and we hope you think so too!

Are you thinking of moving to New Zealand or arrived and finding things to be a bit more expensive than you’d hoped? We’d love to hear from you so feel free to get in touch!

Day Trips Within Auckland

Now we are living and working in Auckland we have had time to visit all the tourist attractions that are here, there is so much to see and do here not just centrally but also in the vicinity of Auckland and all just a short drive away! Here are our top day trips in Auckland!

A Must Do: SKYCITY
A Must Do: SKYCITY

Central Auckland:

The Auckland War Memorial Museum is a must for any history lover, if you can prove you are a Auckland resident (take a bank statement, bill showing your address) entry is free, you can spend hours here on a rainy day learning all about Maori History and New Zealand’s contribution to the first and second world wars.

Auckland’s Sky Tower, is a must for any city lover. The telecommunications and observatory tower is 328 metres high and is home to SKYCITY entertainment complex. It has over 18 bars and restaurants, 2 hotels, a casino and a theatre in the complex it self! The best restaurants are in the Sky Tower including the revolving restaurant (Orbit 360) which rotates every hour, a bit of a novelty but the views on a clear day/night are incredible! You can also jump off the building and walk around the top of the tower with Sky Walk and Sky Jump – Hours of fun!

Free Container Library Auckland
Free Container Library Auckland

If you like sticking close to the coastline we suggest hiring a bike (or even better a E bike) for the day and cycle the entire, mainly pedestrianised coastal path of central Auckland. Starting west at Westhaven Drive underneath the Harbour Bridge you can walk towards the city passing through St Mary’s Bay (spot the expensive boats), along to Silo Park (don’t forget lunch at the Auckland Fish Market or along the Wynyard Quarter) across the Wynyard Bridge  (make a pit stop at the Container Library, a free book swap!) towards New Zealands Maritime Musuem along Quay St past the ferry terminal and then heading east to Judges Bay, Okahu Bay until finally hitting Mission Bay, Auckland’s best beach. Don’t forget your camera!

Mission Bay - Simply Beautiful
Mission Bay – Simply Beautiful

The Parks:

Auckland is built on volcanic field of scoria cone volcanoes there are over 50 dormant volcanoes in a 1000 square kilometre radius! This has made Auckland incredibly hilly and there are some brilliant parks to explore for this reason! Mount Eden is the nearest to the city but the most touristy, yes the views are incredible but the amount of people at times can ruin your photos! We suggest driving a little further to Mount Mangere which is less untouched than Mt Eden and making it a much more peaceful afternoon of exploration!

We also strongly recommend Cornwall Park and One Tree Hill it is the largest area of parkland in Auckland and the views are spectacular!

Beautiful Mt Eden
Beautiful Mt Eden

Another great park we discovered just recently is Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park in Devonport (North Shore) this is great for kids there are old army barracks here from the second world war with lots of tunnels and hidden passage ways to explore! Plus there are great uninterrupted views of Rangitoto Island and the Hauraki gulf as well as the city across the harbour.

Head West:

Heading West is a great option if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city in a short amount of time. Just 40 minutes drive west of Auckland lies some of the best black sand beaches NZ has to offer and some brilliant surfing!

You could easily spend days exploring the Waitakere Ranges, (You first stop should be the Arataki Visitor Centre) finding hidden waterfalls, cycling up at Woodhill Forest or driving along the Scenic Drive (trust me it has that name for a reason!) to Piha Beach, Murawai Beach or Bethalls Beach. Every time we head out this way we get reminded why we love Auckland so much! West is Best!

Bethall's Beach - West is Best!
Bethall’s Beach – West is Best!

Hauraki Gulf:

To me the main thing that makes Auckland so great is that it is so close to the sea! Just a short walk from our city apartment is Auckland’s Ferry Terminal where the Hauraki Gulf is on our doorstep, a pocket of the Pacific Ocean and home to over 50 islands! Your time in Auckland would not be complete without jumping on the ferry and exploring Rangitoto Island (Auckland youngest but dormant volcano) and Waiheke Island. Remember to check out Book Me for the latest deals!

Rangitoto Island
Rangitoto Island

Discovering Electric Bikes in Auckland

We were looking for something to do last weekend in the city that was free, worth doing and as newbies to Auckland helped us meet new people. A few weeks ago I posted about cycling in Auckland and we love to get out on our bikes whenever we can, when we found out Auckland Council along with Next Bike and ‘Bikes and Barbers’  (who provided us with the E bikes) were doing a tour of the city on electric bikes, we thought why not!

When we first moved to Auckland I looked at getting an electric bike, my cycle to work is all down hill one way for half an hour and on the way home when I am tired after a long days work – let’s just say it can be a challenge. I love the cycle path to work though and the council are constantly making more places accessible on bikes, good stuff!

Tearing myself out of bed at 8am on a Sunday morning, even for something free is difficult, the weather forecast was wrong and I’d forgotten my coat…I know!

Bikes and Barbers
Bikes and Barber’s

Tomas is the chap who runs the Bikes and Barbers shop, it has opened recently after great success from a branch on Waiheke Island. He greeted us with a smile, he is a very enthusiastic chap who knows his beans when it comes to bikes. Julian Hulls from Next Bike gave a safety brief which involved a bit of slalom round some cones and we were off!

Julian lead the way, we were a motley crew of all ages – mostly older people, but some other 20-30 year old’s too. The ride it self gave me a new found confidence to cycle on the roads of Auckland. Before this, I tended to stick to cycle lanes and pavements – I also hated crossing the road with my bike!

E Bike Rest Stop Auckland
Rest Stop

There was plenty of rest stops during the cycle including a stop for some coffee and something to eat. Sometimes the rest stops were a bit long, but with a large group and oldies it was to be expected. I’d recommend bringing suitable clothing – gloves, coat, jumper, hat. If you don’t wear it remember most of the bikes have baskets!

We were a small group of individuals all here for the same but different objectives. My partner wanted to “test these bad boys out” as he put it and was keen to test how fast and how much juice one of these E bikes had and I just wanted to find out if  E bike is a viable alternative to catching the bus or cycling to work. After our cycle both mine and my partners bike batteries were at over 75% charge after 20 km, so this sort of bike would be more than suitable for commutes and with proper care should be worth the hefty initial outlay.

E bikes in Auckland
Motley Crew of E Bikers

Overall the day was fun, educational, informative and a confidence builder for us. Being a bit of a critic I’d have liked to have gone a bit further and had less ‘this is how you ride a bike’ time, I can see for some of the riders this was necessary though as the group had varying abilities.

E Bike Auckland
Exploring Auckland the best way

So, if you are thinking of buying an E-bike to get around Auckland and New Zealand, or just fancy a jolly, hit up Bikes and Barber’s or get in contact with Julian from Next Bike’s, they are hoping continue this scheme with the support of the Auckland Council.  Thanks for a great day guys!

Cycling in Auckland

Living in Auckland you soon discover that the roads are a constant traffic jam! It’s one of the downsides of being a “JAFA” (Just Another Fucking Aucklander!) our solution has been to purchase ourselves bikes to get around the city faster and we have soon found it is much less stressful than first considered! The Auckland council are investing over $37 million on developing over 13 urban cycleway in Auckland as part of the government’s $100 million dollar investment plan of developing urban cycling around New Zealand. With the mild weather here it can be achievable to cycle all year round and not just in the summer months. Plus it saves a ton of cash on public transport or fuel costs!

What we Love:

The Grafton Gully Cycle Way:

Besides the fact that this begins right by our city apartment and ends right where I work, this is a great development that was finished in 2014. It runs all along the motorways from Grafton to Parnell parellel to Queen Street, it is downhill all the way (but not so great on the way back!) and you can wave as you go by at all the cars on the motorway as they all sit in the traffic!

Easy Sign-age:

The signs and pathways are really easy to follow plus there is a dedicated page on the council’s website giving you a great map of all the cycle ways in the city. Check it out here.

Easy Signage
Easy Signage

The Paths Link Up:

With the completion of the Grafton Cycleway this has meant the path ways all link up. You can literally cycle from Point Chevalier (West Auckland) to Mission Bay all on a dedicated (sometimes shared with pedestrians) pathway. This has made cycling in Auckland safer than ever.

Easy Paths
Easy Paths

Future Projects:

As mentioned the council are investing heavily on this mode of transport and are working on linking up all the cycle ways. There are plans to build a 160 metre bridge flying high above state highway one as part of completing the Nelson Street cycle way as well as 33.5 million dollar project to begin as soon as there is approval to build a foot and cycle bridge over the harbour bridge, this will be connecting the CBD with those on the North Shore. These are big ambitious projects but ones we are supporting for a better future for Auckland!

Flat Tyre? No worries!

There are now many point around the city where you will find water stations and free air to pump up your bike tyres! There is also lots of areas popping up at train/ bus stations where you can safely secure your bike. For more information click here!

No Bike? No Worries!

You can also hire bikes in Auckland. Great for tourist’s or visitors to Auckland. Next Bike have bikes dotted around the city, it is a great way to explore the city for those who have little time!

Auckland Cycling Culture:

There is a great little cycling community we have discovered as soon as we moved here! If your passionate join Meet Up (more about this website on our Community Organisations in NZ article) where there are a group of keen cyclists that meet up for social aspects of cycling. There are some really great clubs, one is the Auckland Mountain Bike Club who meet once a month exploring areas outside of Auckland with some grub and a social after wards and there always seems to be a bike event on in Auckland.

On June 7th we are taking part in a E Bike Guided Ride around Auckland. Electric Bikes are becoming increasingly popular here in Auckland due to the city’s many hill’s! Auckland Council have teamed up with Next Bike to offer a free guided bike ride for bike lovers to try out electric bikes – watch out for our up and coming article about our experience on the E bikes!

And just recently there was a Bike Rave in Auckland. Yes a Bike Rave! The event was held near Silo Park on the waterfront, the Auckland bike community came to together and decorated there bikes (and themselves) and got raving! Don’t believe me?! Check out there Facebook page!

Awesome graffiti artwork on the Grafton Gully Cycleway
Awesome graffiti artwork on the Grafton Gully Cycleway

Now For what we Hate

Traffic – there is no avoiding it!

Your at those damn traffic lights again! There is sometimes no avoiding the Highway Code and you have to consider you won’t get from A to B as quickly as you may think as you will find yourself stuck at a junction for at least 3 minutes at a time! But at least you get to catch your breath in between the hills!

The Pollution:

Yes cycling in the city is probably not as healthy as you think. The pollution from the cars does pose a health risk, but hey it’s not China! There are far fewer cars on the road than China that’s for sure!

Woodhill Forest:

Get out the city and enjoy the bike with no cars – Check out Wood Hill Forest!

This is cycling or should we say Extreme Mountain biking at its best! Just 40 minutes outside of Auckland on the state highway 16 is reclaimed land that the company have turned into mountain bike tracks suitable for the young keen cyclist just off stabilisers from the extremist who can encounter the 12 foot jumps and not break there neck! We explored this forest recently. For 9 dollars each it’s a good day trip and escape from busy Auckland, the cycle up to the forest from the car park is not that challenging and the tracks are great. You can easily get lost we did think the signage could be better as they do boast they have up to 60km of tracks but an hour or to exploring the forest and a few wrong turns you soon realise you can’t really get lost. For more ideas of what to do if you would like a day trip escaping the city of Auckland check out our article coming soon!

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