Travel Spotlight: Auckland 

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By June Ramli

I travelled to New Zealand for the first time this year, thanks to Tahiti. 
My flight to Tahiti from Sydney, Australia meant that I had to stop over at New Zealand for an aircraft change. 
It was not possible for me to take a direct flight from Australia to Tahiti and so this was my only option.
So, I decided to do a pit stop of three days in Auckland at the tail end of my trip so that I could experience New Zealand for a couple of days.
I met a couple of publicists that had helped me with DailyStraits.com, two to be exact, thanks KG and KW for taking the time to meet with me, to buy me coffee and breakfast.
Now back to the assignment at hand.
What do you do in Auckland, when you have three days to spend?
Nothing much, as I was staying at the Auckland Harbour Suites, I noticed there were a lot of shops which I could explore.
The shops were pretty much similar to Australia, except I found the prices to be a wee bit more expensive.
So, my shopping in New Zealand was limited.
Plus prior to my trip to New Zealand, I had stayed in Tahiti for 12 glorious days, and spent heaps of money there which explained why I had to be careful with my expenditure in New Zealand.
As soon as I arrived in New Zealand, I realised that the immigration was pretty much similar to Australia. 

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There was a disembarkation form to be filled.
Anyone who had been to Bali in the last seven days were asked to make a special declaration, you get asked the same question when entering Australia.
Once that was done and dusted, I started queuing up in a long snaky line and when it came close to my turn, I realised that the New Zealand government gives out free rapid tests kits.
I took just one but I haven’t used it yet but wow New Zealand, good job mate, even Australia doesn’t give out free rapid test kits at the airport.
When it was my turn, the immigration officer wanted to know all about my Tahitian ukulele.
I told him that I had purchased it from a sidewalk in Papeete, and after inspecting the instrument, I was good to go.
Soon, I was left with the task of figuring out how to get myself to the city and eventually to my first coffee meet-up with publicist KG in Armano.
I was in my Tahitian dress, there was no need for me to make a pit stop anywhere and I could show up presentable at my meet-up.
But before leaving the airport, I got myself a travel SIM card from Spark NZ.
The lady who sold me the sim card told me how to get on the $17 shuttle bus that goes right into the city centre.
I arrived at the area just in the nick of time and the driver helped me with my luggage.
I met an American guy who sat next to me on the plane and we exchanged pleasantries.
As soon as I got down at my stop, I began frantically looking for Armano.

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After much running around and asking people for directions, I finally arrived at my destination.
Thankfully KG had stayed on, we met briefly and had some nice coffee.
Once that meet-up was over, I headed back to my hotel.
If you haven’t been to Auckland, I’d like to warn you that the Kiwis are not as friendly as the Australians.
They will not stop and help you with directions if you are in need of some.
Only two men stopped and helped me but judging from their accents one was from US and the other one was from UK.
Finally, I arrived at my hotel, thanks to an American man who helped me with some directions.
At the hotel, I called my former belly dancing teacher and another publicist- KW.
KW had agreed to meet me for breakfast at Beast and Butterflies the following day but my friend from KL – Nancy Bakhsay said she will show up in the next hour.
Nancy is now seeking asylum in New Zealand.
Her story is an interesting one, she stayed in Malaysia for 30 years but was denied permanent residency.
She now lives with other asylum seekers and and aims to get New Zealand citizenship soon.
Originally from Iran, she had a really glorious life in Malaysia.
The last time I met her, she told me that she was looking for a job in the medical field which is a far cry from her belly dancing days.


She picked me up and we headed to a nearby mall to have some Indian food which I missed very much because while I was in Tahiti, I couldn’t find any.
It was also there that I realised Woolies is known as Countdown in New Zealand.
When we were done with our meal, we had coffee and parted ways.

The writer and her friend Nanncy Bakhshy.



The next day, after my breakfast meeting with another publicists KW, I wanted to go to visit the Hobbiton but found it impossible without any prior booking or reservation.
So, I pivoted and headed to Waiheke Island instead, which is a 40 minute ferry ride from Auckland.
On the way there, I met with a very talkative Singaporean lady who had married a Kiwi and had lived there for years.
She wanted to know everything about myself especially what I was doing there on my own.
I told her that I was going to the island to research a story, which was for this esteemed publication – DailyStraits.com.
She told me that her sister was visiting from Australia.
I later found out that they had been visiting Waiheke from Curl Curl in Sydney.
That ferry ride to Waiheke turned out to be a nice and unexpected experience owing to this lady and her family.
I spoke to them for a bit before we parted ways.
I was going to explore the island for the day whereby they had been planning on staying for the weekend.
Once I got to the island, we said our goodbyes and left.

I was thinking about renting a car in Waiheke but decided against it because of the huge deposit.
I decided to check out Waiheke Island because earlier in the year I had been offered a role there as a journalist at the Gulf News.
I didn’t take the role because of the low salary but I was intrigued to see what I had said no to.
Once I was at the island, I quickly realised that the island wasn’t my cup of tea.
After visiting Tahiti, Waiheke Island did nothing to me.
And by that I mean it wasn’t as great looking as Tahiti was and so suddenly, I didn’t feel a deep sense of regret for turning down the role at the Gulf News.
After deciding against renting the car, I took the bus and headed straight to lunch as I was absolutely famished by the time I had reached the island.
The bus driver recommended some cool spots for lunch and I ended up at one posh Italian restaurant by the beach.
The food was super expensive and portion size was small but I finished it all because I was hungry.
The waitress that served me at the restaurant was French and so we spoke in French for a bit.
She had told me that she was working on her residency visa and was hoping to make Waiheke Island her permanent home.
She also told me that the restaurant she was working in had heaps of Italian servers and that she was the only French person there.
After lunch, I hopped on the bus to Oneroa Beach.
That area looked slightly more happening than the rest of the place with more shops and everything looked a tad bit livelier there.
I went into a couple of shops and was trying to look for something to buy that was made in Waiheke Island.
Unfortunately, there was hardly anything that tickled my fancy.
I then proceeded to visit my ‘office’ – the Gulf News, but I didn’t want to go in.
I left soon after but not before taking some pictures and ended up going to the Island Grocer for a drink.
I met an Aussie lady working there by the name of Sonia.
She recommended me the Passion Fruit drink, but what tickled my fancy was their coconut drink.
I even made a TikTok video about it.
Take a look at it here.

@dailystraits

Check out this cool coconut I bought in Waiheke Island in New Zealand recently ❤️

♬ original sound – DailyStraits.com

After that I proceeded to head to the Oneroa Beach to take some product shots, I left the island soon after.
Once back in Auckland, I checked into my room.
I don’t remember what I had for dinner that night or if I ate at all.
My two night sleep at the Auckland Harbour Suites was rough as I was woken up by a false fire alarm.
Someone had broken into the hotel and triggered the alarm for fun.


We all had to leave our rooms using the staircase and were down for sometime until given the all clear to return to our rooms.
The next morning, I woke up and had my coconut water in the room and finished up my laundry.
I checked out from the hotel but left my bags there and headed to the shops nearby and ended up having Indian food for the second time for lunch.
The food was alright, Sydney Indian food is much better.

@dailystraits

Checked the grocery store at Waiheke Island recently ❤️ #newzealand #waiheke #nz

♬ original sound – DailyStraits.com


After a bit of walking around and seeing one person getting arrested, I headed back to my previous hotel, collected my luggage and waited for my taxi.
Normally the taxi prices from the city to the airport would be around the $70 range but the hotel managed to get one for me for $50 which also included tolls.
The driver who drove me to the airport was an Indian man.
He asked me whether I was going back to Fiji or Australia.
I will be honest here, there were times I wasn’t sure that I would get to the airport in one piece cause that whole taxi ride seemed doggy.
Halfway to the airport, the driver asks me about payment.
I told him that I would pay him cash upon arrival.
He seemed at ease after hearing me say that.
Once I arrived at the airport, I realised the driver had taken me through the back route which did not consist of any tolls but he still took full payment from me.
Nevermind, I thought to myself, at least I arrived at the airport in one piece.
I checked in and left for Sydney soon after.
That was how I spent my three days and two nights in Auckland, New Zealand.

About the author: June Ramli is the editor of DailyStraits.com. This is an opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this publication.

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