I made it! The flights went smoothly and confirmed the value of paying for the extra legroom seats. When you’re spending 23 hours in a plane (7 to Dubai, then 16 to Auckland) it’s a glorious thing to be able to stretch out and/or stand up as much as you want.
I went directly from the airport to a food tour in downtown Auckland. The tour and the food were ho-hum but still served as a sort of ice breaker for the city. I got a sense of the Central Business District: smaller than I expected, a bit dated, and nearly deserted in this summery holiday/vacation period. Interestingly, I saw fewer of the big British and American chains/brands that made Sydney feel like such a familiar mashup of England and California — so far Auckland feels more “other” to me, which adds to its charm.
After the tour, I wandered over to the Wynyard district. Down on the waterfront, this area seemed at first to be a fairly nondescript industrial zone-turned-office park (similar to Seattle’s South Lake Union neighbourhood), but then right at waters edge, it turned into a delightfully vibrant collection of restaurants and bars that took advantage of the water, weather, and views.
By this time the sun was starting to get low and my jet lag harder to ignore. I hopped back in the car and drive around the bay to Devonport, where I would be staying at the Peace and Plenty Inn. The village turned out to be completely charming, with shops and restaurants and a little park tumbling down the hillside to a waterfront that looked back toward the Auckland skyline.
I took a brief stroll to get the lay of the land, enjoyed dinner at one of the few restaurants that were open, and went to bed in my spacious, frilly, and blessedly comfortable room.