Day 1: Auckland


  • Auckland War Museum

  • Beer at Vultures Lane on Vulcan Lane

  • Cab driver asking if Iowa is the place where horse and buggies drive around

Lessons learned:

  • Weather can change rapidly

  • Don't wear moccasins

We are here! You are going to have to bear with us when it comes to time because it's a little wonky but we landed yesterday at 8am on Monday in New Zealand while it would have been 2pm CST in the U.S. The 13 hour flight went faster than we'd thought with the help of some terrible movies (Central Intelligence) and sleeping pills. 

Upon arrival, we made our way to our AirBnb only a few minutes away from the airport in Mangere. Our host, Pui, put us up in his nice little detached guest house. 

We cleaned up a bit and jumped in an Uber (yes, they have Uber) and made our way to downtown Auckland. With no real plan and not a bunch of research on Auckland, we did what most Americans would do—wandered aimlessly whilst taking pictures and drinking coffee. 

First, we checked out Aotea square, where there are not pigeons begging passerby for food but seagulls and DUCKS. Yes, ducks, aggressively waddling toward and quacking at you. 

Auckland sports a Sky Tower, which reminded me of a smaller version of the Seattle Space Needle. Caitlin, being true to form, started nicknaming everything and dubbed it Needle Nose. 

Aotea Square

Aotea Square

There were some great alleyways off Queen and High Streets that house some fun bars, restaurants and shops. We spent a majority of our eating and drinking time here. 


(Coach Cole, this is your favorite part)

Our first meal was at a little cafe called Melba, and we sat out in the alley so we could people watch. Caitlin went with the 'crumbed' fish with tomato aoli and chips. I had their creamy mushrooms on toast. Both were fantastic. 

A little more about food: we were surprised to see Pita Pits all over the place, as well as a fair number of Mexican sit-down and fast food options. There were far and away more Asian options than anything (Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai—you name it). 

Caitlin shifted gears hard into 'Explore' mode and had us trekking through parks, universities and museums. First stop, Albert Park, which soon got named 'Albie P.'

The trees were massive, unruly, and dare I say, Lord of the Rings-y.


We wandered through Auckland University's downtown campus and into another massive park, Auckland Domain. Here, they had large 'bowling greens'—which is essentially bocce ball (I think?).

Auckland Domain's Bowling Greens

Auckland Domain's Bowling Greens

The park also housed large old greenhouses and gardens, specifically a Hot and Cold House that showcased native New Zealand plants. 

Caitlin's favorite plants were "the ones that felt like Mika's furry ears." So, while I don't know what this plant is called, we're still talking about trying to hunt down "Mika ears" when we get back.

The fernery was exactly what you'd think it'd be. Caitlin wouldn't stop walking around talking about how much of a Fern Fernzy it was in there.

After the park we made our way up the hill to the Auckland War Museum. While I had not originally put any museums on our iternerary (for good reason), I will be the first to admit that this museum was very interesting. Caitlin was thrilled to find out that the Maori preferred carving depictions of old chiefs and cheiftesses anatomically correctly, or maybe...liked to generously exagerrate the correctness of their anatomy. 

You all reading this (dad) may be more educated in this department, but when we thought of war we didn't think...New Zealand. However, after three floors of history we both came to the conclusion that New Zealand was pretty much dragged into any war that the British participated in. 

The low point of the day came when we left the museum and within seconds it started pouring. My beautiful wife decided not to bring her raincoat or water resistant shoes on this outing, so by the end of the walk I had a VERY unhappy camper on my hands. 

Below, we are on what was called 'The Lover's Walk.' She doesn't look as if she's feeling the love. 

Thank goodness, when it comes to her it's nothing a good drink can't fix. We found ourselves at Vulture's Lane watching a lively game of professional darts on TV and enjoying New Zealand craft beers with the afterwork crowd. 

After probably four good hours of sleep in 48 hours we made our way to a Pak'n'Save (large grocery store), grabbed some essentials, and strolled through Mangere back to our AirBnb. 

Caitlin had picked up a cheap sweatshirt earlier to warm up, which she proudly modeled before crashing at 8:30pm on a Monday night. 

We woke up early this morning to get coffee and write this update, before renting a car and heading out of town for some real adventure. Stay tuned!

P.S. Snapped a picture of the morning paper at the coffee shop.