I’m always banging on about London, which isn’t a bad thing in my opinion as it happens to be the coolest city in the world #fact #dontarguewithme. However, it occurred to me I don’t give much air time to my other home, the one I grew up in and the reason I have a ‘funny accent’ according to The Boy Next Door. Known as The Land of The Long White Cloud – I think the photo above that I took on a ferry into Auckland City is proof of that – let me introduce you to New Zealand.
As you can see already, Auckland is full of harbours, marina’s and beaches, hence the nickname The City of Sails. The Half Moon Bay Marina in the photo above has many memories for me, it’s where I used to walk to the store with my neighbours to buy sweets with my pocket money, it’s next door to my first home I lived in when I was born, it’s where many of my father’s boats were launched when he owned a boat building company, even my doctors surgery is located there. Pretty huh?
To get to Auckland City, I have the option to either drive, or take the ferry from Half Moon Bay Marina and arrive at the wharf above. The ferry wins out every time on a warm, sunny day.
In the city you’ll discover great boutique shopping, amazing coffee and the very best of cafes. Bars and restaurants line the harbour above and this is where I spent many a night out dancing til the early hours before I moved to London.
The neighbourhoods surrounding the city are considered the hip and trendy areas. Places such as Ponsonby and Parnell are where you would head for a weekend brunch, Saturday night cocktails or shopping in fantastic independent stores.
Auckland is such a widespread city, it takes up more space than London does. If you’re heading there anytime, make sure to do your homework on where to eat, what to see, and where to shop, or you’ll find yourself caught on the tourist trap road that is the centre of town, Queen Street. It would be a shame for you to be unaware, that running parallel to Queen Street are some great spots that you just shouldn’t miss!
When I’m visiting NZ, I have two places I stay. The first being Auckland, where I grew up. The second being a beach town on the east coast, called Pauanui (pronounced Pa-wa-noo-ee), where my family have a beach house. Just under two hours to reach by car from Auckland, it’s where my family mostly spend all their public holidays, Christmas and New Year.
In 2006, the population census was 741. During Christmas and New Year, the population can rise to around 15,000 with holidaymakers heading there to enjoy the long stretch of white sandy beach, walking in the mountain ranges or visiting the nearby beach towns along the coast.
My visits to Pauanui usually follow the same routine. A sleep in, followed by a lazy breakfast, a few hours spent sunbathing at the beach, and an afternoon coffee (NZ knows how to make a good coffee!) at the little shopping centre – when I say shopping centre, don’t think mall, think one bakery, a fish & chip shop, two cafes, a supermarket and a surf store, and that’s about it! – the evening usually consists of a bbq sat outside in the back garden, and an early evening stroll. Thoroughly exhausting stuff!
The other great thing about Pauanui, is that so many of my friends also have places there, so it’s a great way to catch up with people when I’m home visiting. And because it’s such a lovely place to be in summer, it is very easy to convince friends to come and stay at our place, so the holiday turns into one big social event.
One of my favourite childhood memories will always be hearing the faraway jingle of an ice cream truck getting nearer. Panic would ensue, rushing around the house to find either mum or dad, so they could kindly donate some money and then legging it to the end of the driveway just in time to madly wave at the ice cream truck driver to STOP! so I could place my order. Still popular with kids (and apparently adults too as you can see how happy my own mother seems to look below!), it makes me laugh to see my nieces and nephews going through the same panic/search for parent/run to the end of the driveway routine that I once carried out.
There are so many stories I could tell you, so much information to pass on, about the country I grew up in. I cannot wait for my next vacation to The Land of the Long White Cloud, where you will find me parked up between the hours of 1-3pm on the beach at Pauanui, or enjoying a coffee catch up with friends at Shakey Isles in downtown Auckland.
Who is adding New Zealand to their holiday destination list now? x