Kia Ora! 5 months ago I received an Instagram message with this greeting (meaning hello and good fortune) and the news that I had won two free flights from Houston to anywhere in Australia via Auckland through Air New Zealand! I had attended an Aussie by Air NZ event in Houston in October that was promoting their new direct route from Houston to Auckland. If you posted a picture from the event, you were entered to win the flights. When I opened the message I figured it couldn’t be real but I am now back from my journey across the world still pinching myself.
Evan and I arrived in Auckland two weeks ago after a 15 hour direct flight on Air NZ from IAH airport in Houston. The flight left at 8 pm Wednesday night and after watching movies and reading for the first half, and sleeping for the second half it went by relatively fast. A few perks about Air NZ: endless movies and TV options for free, in flight games with other passengers or messaging which is fun if traveling in a group, alcoholic drinks are free in flight and wine = better sleep in the air, they serve you two meals, have spacious foot and back recliners even in economy, and the friendliest in flight crew I’ve ever experienced. Upon landing and checking in we were in search for a classic New Zealand brunch.
We stumbled upon Federal and Wolfe which was a colorful organic cafe with endless brunch options. We split Eggs Florentine which came with haloumi cheese (the best) and Dukkah Eggs with chorizo and both were equally delicious. Their fresh squeezed juices were a perfect way to get in some vitamin C after a long night of travel.
Auckland reminded us a lot of Seattle with the serious coffee scene, popular fish market, rainy weather, and beautiful rivers and mountains as the backdrop of the city. We stayed at a great Hilton along the waterfront which had beautiful harbor views, live music in the hotel bar, and a delicious cheese platter. It was in a central location to walk to several areas and we found it easy to navigate the city.
For dinner we were craving fresh seafood and landed at Harbourside on the Auckland harbour. It was a bit upscale but it was our only night in Auckland and got rave reviews. The fresh sushi and sashimi was the highlight of the meal.
After dinner we headed to The Gin Room for some craft cocktails. They had a speakeasy vibe and they feature gin from across the globe. My cocktail was topped with beet root foam and rosemary.
We couldn’t leave Auckland without one more amazing brunch and we loved Ortolana so much that we compared every other brunch we had on the trip to this meal. I think this was our favorite from the trip which says a lot because breakfast down under is taken very seriously.
I wish we had more time to explore Auckland but with the rainy weather and plans to explore Rotorura we had to hit the road. Stay tuned for my next post about our drive through the beautiful New Zealand countryside/sheep land to get to Rotorura- a geothermal quirky tribal town!