New Zealand my home away from home.
I am officially in love. After a 23-hour flight, numerous drinks we finally arrived in Auckland, New Zealand, a country I honestly didn’t even know existed until I saw Lord of the Rings.
On a whim last Christmas Eve I booked a groupon to a magical place I had only seen in my fantasies. Luckily I have a very dear friend in New Zealand and Casey has a best friend in Australia so we are taking a month to explore new accents and cultures.
For our first few days we stayed at the Langham hotel. It is right in Central Auckland located at 83 Symonds Street, Auckland 1140. This boutique hotel has a wonderful view and is just blocks away from multiple vintage shops, cute cafes, venues and bars. After we dropped off 200 pounds of fashionable luggage, we headed out for mimosas and good food.
We found a place nearby called Revel located at 46 Karangahape Road, a small artsy diner with tons of gluten free and veggie options. I ate the most amazing mushroom and walnut burger I have ever had in my life. The local radio station 106.9 was playing Pretty Lights and we felt right at home. The two guys running this place are awesomely weird. We went back several times for the great food and awkward company. I highly recommend the eggs on gluten free toast with mushrooms and the homemade gluten free vegan desserts.
That night we were looking for a good dive bar to check out the scene and drink as cheap as possible. A cute girl at a vintage shop told us about two bars one a dive bar and one a punk venue called Wine Cellar and Whammy 183 Karangahape Road Auckland 1010.
We were promised there were often punk or metal shows going on and that the crowd was rowdy but tolerable. After taking a nap to help make up for the 17 hour time difference from Richmond, we took her advice and walked there at 1am to have what we thought would be a few last call drinks. As we approached the Wine Cellar, located among an arcade of shops and restaurants, there was a small New Zealand girl screaming at the top of her lungs “I did what you told me to do! I’m not that drunk” at a very large cuddly Fijian body guard. We knew we were in the right place. The bar was dark and people came in and out from the show next door. The bartender was friendly and within an hour we had made best friends with the owner and anyone left drinking in the bar. We sat crouched in a hidden indoor alleyway the size of a crawl space until 6am talking about the good ole days of punk rock and traveling the world. People are so incredibly friendly here. We walked the three blocks home in our designers shoes laughing about what a great time we had as the sun rose.
The next morning we booked a wine tour through Fullers Tour to the Island of Waiheke. We took a 45-minute picturesque ferry to the Island. New Zealand has the highest boat ownership per capita in the world, so the bright blue water was full of white sailboats. There are over 50 volcanoes and several small islands. It is not uncommon to see whales and dolphins alongside boats. We were blown away at how beautiful Waiheke is.
We stopped by three wineries on our tour. The first was Mudbrick Vineyard a small boutique winery with a little over 40 acres of vines. The owners purchased the property when they were 28 for $186,000.00 and spent the first 6 years planting and bottling all the wine themselves. After 20 years their land is worth over 3 million dollars and they still process all their wine without machines. There is a beautiful café that is on the to hill of the property where they host over 140 weddings a year.
The second winery we went to is called The Goldie Room this property is one of the oldest vineyards in New Zealand. The vines overlook the ocean and you can sip wine on a rope swing starring into the blue abyss of life and the endless green field of vines. Casey and I were speechless at times its hard to believe that this is our life.
The last and final winery we went to was high up on a hill. The owner and creator was there and he gave us a very detailed and funny history of his company. He uses a gravitational organic method of making his wine. You could tell how much work and pride he puts into his product. After several glasses of wine we met some girls from California and a nice English bloke who had a house overlooking the beach right next to our ferry. He bought around $300 dollars of wine and we went back to his house to drink and laugh until we caught our ferry home. I honestly can’t remember the ferry home except that it involved more champagne and more English blokes.
The bartender we met the night before at the dive bar Wine Cellar invited us to a garage show to see his band Sex Pissed that night. We were running on next to no sleep and too much wine, and were so excited to go to a New Zealand punk show. We got off the ferry stumbled into an awesome bar called Trench Bar, through back some more drinks then jumped in a cab to the show. When we arrived there were tons of people outside.
There is nothing like being in another country and showing up somewhere and being greeted by people who know you. Some of our friends were there from the night before and the bands we saw were amazing. There was a swing in the middle of the floor and it was sort of perfect chaos. I was smashed city so Casey put me in a cab home, put me to bed and went to a metal show at the Whammy to party the rest of the night away.
The next morning we checked into a hostel called Nomad 38 Fort Street and we slept for half the day on tiny bunk making up for who knows how many hours of sleep we needed to catch up on. New Zealand is 17 hours ahead of Richmond, basically meaning we are living in the future. We finally left our rooms in search for food, and we found an amazing Mexican joint called Mexico right near the waterfront.
Wonderful art covered all the walls, and the waitresses looked like Frida Kahlua paintings.
Their champagne sangria and mushroom tacos were to die for.
It was so nice having an authentic Mexican meal in New Zealand.
After an amazing meal, we walked down near the water to the Viaduct and starred into the ocean looking for whales. This trip is going to change our lives.