Top things to do: Auckland area

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You just arrived in Auckland and you have probably planned some of the things that you want to see and do during your stay in the “City of Sails”. It doesn’t matter whether you are in the inner city or a bit away from the crowded streets because here on every corner you can find something exciting to do. Auckland is a great mix of lively city streets, long beaches and beautiful rainforests and sometimes, to get the best experience, you don’t really have to spend a lot of money.

To make traveling more affordable it is always good to know what you can do for free and where you can find a few cheap activities. To help you save some money I gathered some of the best free and cheap things to do while you are in the biggest city of New Zealand!

1. Spend the morning at one of the weekend markets

During the mornings on the weekends there’s a lot going on in the city centre and a bit away. Saturday and Sunday markets are great places to taste the food from all over the world and of course to buy domestic products from the farmers. Market in Coatesville and in Otara are colourful places to be and definitely the places to enjoy in delicious meal for a few dollars.

IMG_26492. Enjoy in the surroundings of the Auckland Domain

Few minutes from the city centre you can enjoy in a true nature oasis. Auckland Domain is a big city park where you can have a nice picnic near the lake and a walk through the native bush, just choose between the Lovers Walk and Centennial walkway. Stop for a moment at the Winter garden, its courtyard is very peaceful place, just the one you need to enjoy the atmosphere.

IMG_25683. For a bit of history stop at the Auckland War Memorial Museum

While you are at the Auckland Domain you can visit this great museum. It is really huge so you have to leave at least two hours for wandering around. Museum is open every day from 10 to 17. Admission is 25$ for international travelers but if you are on the Working Holiday you can use the letter from the IRD as your proof of Auckland address and you will get the free entry.

DSC026304. Visit the craters of the volcanoes – view from the top is magnificent!

You won’t be often in the city which lies on more than 50 volcanos. Here you have the opportunity to walk around the craters and as they are on the top of the hill at the same time you will have the chance to enjoy in the magnificent view over the Auckland. If you want to see the city lights during the night, perfect place for it is definitely Mt Eden cone. Other than that take a walk to the One Tree Hill and Mt Wellington.

DSC027075Free fresh meal straight from the sea is always a good idea!

You love sea food and would really like to taste some of the shells? There are few places near Auckland where you can collect the cockles straight from the beach during the low tide. Usually it is allowed to pick up 50 shells a day per person what is definitely enough for a very nice and fresh bite. Just take a walk around Okoromai Bay and you will easily get free and delicious meal!

To be continued in the next post! Happy travels!

 

Ludwig II. and his crazy ideas

Not so long ago I went with my friends to Austria and Germany. We were so happy because we could go on this trip by car and we didn’t need to change the buses or trains to come to our destinations. You would agree that this way of traveling definitely has its advantages, right?

First stop on the rout was Eisriesenwelt, world’s largest ice cave situated in Werfen at an altitude of 1656 m. It’s something that you have to see! Cave tour takes around one hour and it costs 22 euros – cable car to the top and the cave. Remember that the warm clothing is must because temperatures are really low even during the summer. You will take a walk through the cave with the guides so they will tell you all the stories and show you the best spots while you are crossing 700 steps. The cave is 42 km long but only the first kilometer is the area which tourists can visit. It is really spectacular. Check out the gallery!

The main reason why we went to this trip was to visit Bavarian castles. Castles aren’t something that really impresses me but this time I wanted to see what was going on in the head of Ludwig II. First we took the ferry and went to the Herrenchiemsee, royal building that was built on the island Herreninselin on Chiemsee, Bavaria’s largest lake. This palace stands as a monument to Ludwig’s admiration of king Louis XIV. because he always wanted it to be the same as the Palace of Versailles but he died and never finished it.

As the place for the night we chose Fussen, small town in Bavaria, just five kilometers north of Austrian border. I think it’s the best place to stay if you are going to visit other Bavarian castles. We spent the night in the great hostel in the city center, very close to our next stop. In the morning it was time for Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein, most popular castle because everybody seen it, at least on the television.

Hohenschwangau was built by Ludwig’s father in 19th century. It is really beautiful from the outside, I didn’t enter in this one, I rather walked through the forest to the lake. Ludwig liked this castle very much, especially because he was able to observe the construction of  Neuschwanstein, which is located just nearby.

Rain was falling, wind was blowing and the fog covered everything. The weather gave a special touch to the castles but it also didn’t let us see the Neuschwanstein in all its glory. This castle was built on the altitude of 965 m and the fog there was so thick that we couldn’t see anything as you can see on the photos.  We took a guided tour through this very dark and murky place. It should have 228 rooms but Ludwig finished only 15 before he died. You may find this castle very familiar because you can see it in the opening sequence of Disney’s movies. I photographed the postcard just to be sure how does it look like when the weather is how it should be  🙂

Last stop was Linderhof castle, the smallest of the three palaces built by King Ludwig II. In this palace only four rooms have a real function. Ludwig liked to be alone so it was really stupid to build all these huge castles. He just wanted to show off 🙂 I liked this one, the surrounding is very beautiful, with the huge green meadows and great view from the top.

In the end, I just need to show you how crazy this man was. In the park of the Linderhof castle you can see the Moorish kiosk which Ludwig bought on the exhibition in Paris, Moroccan house from the exhibition in Vienna and Music pavilion. But the best part is Venusgrotte, artificial cave with a pond and lightning where Ludwig II. listened the Wagner’s music while driving the boat in the shape of swan. What a crazy man…

Venusgrotte

Venusgrotte

Under the stars and near the sea: Camping in the Far North

Are you for a bit of wandering around the Far North? Let me take you on a trip! Last weekend was the perfect opportunity to open the camping season. We had a few days off, tent was ready, weather forecast wasn’t so good but, of course, it didn’t stop us.

Our first stop was Whangarei, nice town hundred and something kilometers from Auckland. Here we spent our first night under the stars, it just reminded me how much I love camping! There’s a few free camping spots but even if you need to pay for it, it is really cheap, under 10$. To make your traveling a bit easier you can find all the information about the camping spots via the free travel app called CamperMate.

It was pretty obvious that while visiting New Zealand spending time outdoors, surrounded with the magnificent nature, will be our favorite thing to do, so it was during this short trip too. While walking through the woods, over the bridge all the way to the Whangarei Falls the only thing we could hear was the song from the birds, sound of the water and rustle of the leaves under the feet. It was the best music ever…

Our second day on the road was the day when the rain didn’t stop for a minute. We are almost five months in NZ and it never rained that much 🙂 After a few hours of driving we arrived to our next stop for the night. Camping area just under the Cape Reinga is one of the most beautiful camping spots I’ve ever seen. Sun rays and the rhythm of the ocean woke us up in the morning. We couldn’t ask for more…

Tapotupotu Campsite, Tapotupotu Bay

Cape Reinga is the place from where the big number of adventurers start their Te Araroa venture, 3000 km long walking trail that goes from here all the way to the Bluff in the South. At this point the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean and you can really see the swirl of currents. It was a great feeling to stay there, at the end, where the only thing you see is the huge blue vastness. This cape is not quite the northernmost point of New Zealand, Northern Cape has that title but it is not open for the public so we couldn’t go there.

Sand-boarding on the Te Paki Sand Dunes was something that we really wanted to try and this was the perfect chance to do it because those giant piles of sand are close to the Cape Reinga! You can’t even imagine how huge those dunes are, it was like in the middle of Sahara. You can bring you own board or you can rent it for 10$/hour. Ohhh we enjoyed it so much! It is a bit hard to climb up to the top of the dunes but when you slide down you just have to climb up and do it again!

Last stop before heading back home was the Ninety Mile Beach. Beaches in New Zealand are really something special and I’m telling you, this one looks like it doesn’t have the end! It is actually “just” 55 miles long and it is officially a highway but it is suitable only for 4W vehicles. One day I’ll definitely take a ride but this time happy jump on it is more than enough…

Illuminated sky over Antwerpen

During the trip through Belgium, one of our stops was Antwerpen. Here is located one of the biggest European ports and I have to say that I’m not really a big fan of the cities were the port and all the rotten ships are among the most popular attractions. It gives to the city a bit gloomy note and if there’s not so much of the sun and the sky is more grey than blue it is hard to be impressed.  That’s why we have found this great courtyard a bit away from the city center. People who live here don’t want to miss the stars because of the grey sky so they made an illuminated starry sky over Antwerpen. What a perfect idea, isn’t it?

Cycle path to the Lake Bohinj

Where do you go when you want to spend an active weekend? A few months ago we really wanted to go somewhere to enjoy outdoors. As we love to ride a bike and to spend time out in the nature we decided to sit on a train and just cross the border to the neighboring Slovenia. We went there from Zagreb, stopped in Ljubljana and spent three days in Bohinjska Bistrica. It’s a small village where I booked a place on a farm and the whole weekend was just about cycling all aroundBike trail 16 kilometers long took us through the woods, along the river to the Lake Bohinj all the way to the waterfall Savica. Weather was perfect, surroundings so beautiful and the fresh air was just what we needed…It was a real treat