This was my second time visiting Auckland, but this time I was here for work, so although I had a little free time in the evenings, I didn’t have as much time to explore the city as I did the last time. I find this city to be pretty easy to navigate but the traffic to be worse than most anything I’ve experienced in the US. For a country with more sheep then people and a size smaller then California with only 4 million inhabitants, I don’t get how there can be so much traffic. On my last night there it took me two hours to travel 14 KM (about 9 miles), of which almost one hour was to travel 1 KM. I was tempted to ditch my car, but that would not have been a good idea since it was a rental.
I stayed in the CBD, because it seemed like the best option for entertainment and food choices in the early to late evenings. I’m sure there are other possibly better options, but with only four nights here, and being most familiar with this area it made sense to me. Plus being alone it seemed to offer the most in the way of entertainment and food choices.
I stayed at the Crowne Plaza Auckland, which is on Albert Street, about ½ a block from the Mega Casino complex of Sky City and one block from Queen Street, the main drag in my opinion. I found the hotel to be pretty good, the rooms were clean and spacious, with a mall on the first four floors of the building, plus the central location made for easy access to most of the CBD. If I had to stay in town again I’d gladly stay here although the Hilton Auckland (another very nice hotel) is my favorite, but in this case way out of my budget.
The Crowne Plaza offered a spacious room with a comfortable bed and good pillows (a must in my opinion), decent TV selection and good internet speed, but not free. This was a super bummer; they charged $12 for 2 hours and 100 MB or $29 for 1000 MB per day. Ouch, again I get that companies can really stick the traveler when it comes to internet, but man for something you only pay for in US hotels occasionally, this is ridiculous, let alone making it a maximum MB per day to boot. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves in regards to the room, there’s really not much else to say.
I had a couple of solid meals here to and some pretty fabulous ice cream too. It wasn’t Gelataria Messina in Sydney, but it would have to do, and my belly sure didn’t complain about it. As for other food I had along the way, well let’s just say I travelled 8000 miles and the first meal I had was New York Pizza, and YES it was good. I had it the last time I was here and was dreaming about it on my trip down. Sure it’s not exactly NY Pizza, but its damn sure close.
I also had some really great ice cream at Giappo, on Queen Street. They tout all organic and as much local ingredients as they can get their hands on, and it was just delicious. I also went to The Grill by Sean Connolly at Sky City and had a really great piece of meat. It was a rump steak with red wine Jus and a side of potato gratin. Needless to say I polished off the whole thing, I do love my steak but don’t eat them too often, and this one sure didn’t disappoint. If I’m ever in town again I’ll be sure to hit up the Grill again, but next time make a reservation, for sure. The only thing I was not in love with was the Wedge salad with Blue Cheese and capers. The odd part was the olive oil dressing that was just a little too greasy, but hey blue cheese makes anything taste good.
Lastly Fish and chips at the O’Hagans at the Viaduct. Again a solid meal, and an even better glass of Guinness. MMMM. The fish was something local, sorry can’t remember what it was, but I liked it.