Lantern Festival: Illuminated art in Auckland

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One of the most popular summer festivals here in Auckland is Lantern festival organized to celebrate Chinese New Year. This year it took place in Auckland Domain which was illuminated with more than 800 homemade lanterns. Everything was about Chinese art and Asian food, of course. The park looked magical with all those lights but it was so crowded, I didn’t really expect  so many people there, we could barely move around.

However, to mark the year of the Monkey, which started on the February 8, I managed to capture a few of the imaginative lanterns from this year’s festival… Enjoy!

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Colors of Duder Regional Park

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We found the perfect destination for a day trip just half an hour from Auckland. Duder Regional Park in Clevedon is one more beautiful example of New Zealand stunning nature. Spending the day outdoors, just walking up and down the hills, was what we were looking for. It is great how fast here you can find a place that will make you happy. That’s one more reason why I really love this country!

The weather was perfect for wandering around. It wasn’t sunny all the time and we were happy because of that, and you know why? The sun in New Zealand is not friendly at all. You can’t stay outside for a longer time during the sunny day. After ten minutes without the shade the skin start to hurt because of the heat. It took us some time to get used to that and now I’m taking the sun block cream and my hat whenever I leave the house.

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This park is open to the public from 1995 when Duder family sold the land to the Auckland Council. Now you can choose between three easy walking tracks – blue, yellow or red. For the longest one you need around two hours.

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Sheep are enjoying the grasslands all over the park and they really fit perfectly into the picture…

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Colors are really beautiful! Look at that blue sea and green pastures! You just have to love the nature here. I adore it!

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Duder Regional Park definitely fulfilled our expectations. New Zealand convinced us one more time that it doesn’t matter where we will go because there’s no way that we can go wrong!

 

Follow me around Waiheke!

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It took me just 40 minutes from Auckland downtown to get to this wonderful green island in Hauraki Gulf. Perfect idea for a short getaway! Here I have found everything I needed – fresh air, clear blue sea and the nature which is hard to describe in a few words.

This island you can explore by walking over the several trails. That was my way because I didn’t want to miss anything while I’m here. I was ready to walk for hours and it is easy to wander around the places like Waiheke, great scenery is just pushing you to go further! Lot of people come here to walk so called Te Ara Hura Trail – 100 km of walking path which lead them all over the coastline, through the native bushes and across sandy beaches.

My first stop was Oneroa, island’s main village just 20 minutes from the port. I just sat for a while on the Little Oneroa Beach and the sound of the ukulele played by this guy in front of me just perfectly completed the picture…

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Then I got here. Wandering around the Promenade led me to this small, peaceful beach called Surfdale. I can easily imagine it as my little secret place!

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Wiheke is famous for its vineyards. I saw those places on the photos and I was really excited about finally getting there! You can take a vine tour and taste the product of this wonderful green fields…

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Beaches here really look like those from the brochures which are inviting you to go and visit the dream destinations. After a walk through the bush I arrived to the sandy Palm Beach. It is one of those places!

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After almost eight hours walking I had to go back to the port to catch the ferry. All I need to do now is plan my next trip to this island because Waiheke is definitely worth visiting more than once…

 

 

The best of Auckland – cheap or free!

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New Zealand is expensive country and if there’s no Working Holiday, for some people, it would be very hard to travel around for a longer time.

The great thing is that you can always find something cool to do – cheap or free – so as I promised in one of my previous posts here are a few more great things to do around the Auckland area!

1. Stroll around the Wynyard quarter and enjoy in the free movie nights in the Silo Park

Best place to enjoy on the waterfront, especially during the summer, is Wynyard quarter where you can find lots of restaurants and bars. On the Friday nights this is the spot where the night market is taking place so you know where to go to bite something delicious. After a good meal relax on the grass in the Silo Park while you are watching the movie under the stars for free!

2. For a bit of culture stop at the Auckland Art Gallery

Entry to Auckland Art Gallery is free and here you will have the chance to see more than 15000 artworks. In the gallery you will meet the volunteer guides who are ready to tell you the story about the history of art. Free tours are available every day at 11.30 am and 1.30 pm so while you are wandering around the city centre don’t forget to come here too.

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3. Choose one of the walking tracks near the city and enjoy in the unique nature

Around Auckland you can find many beautiful walking tracks through the unique rainforests. Few of them can easily be reached in Waitakere Ranges, only 20 km from the city centre. Walking through the bush of Waitakere Ranges Regional Park is something that you have to do. On your way you will have the chance to discover magnificent nature, beautiful beaches and hidden falls!

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4. Spend a day on the beach – surf, windsurf, kitesurf or just be lazy!

Milford and Takapuna beach on the east or Piha and Betthels beach on the west – it doesn’t matter which one you will choose because the day spent there is something that you will remember. Money can’t buy the long sand beaches and the beautiful view over the ocean  so consider visiting this places and spend a wonderful day with your friends. If you would like to enjoy in the water activities then these beaches are definitely here for you!

5. You can enjoy in the free festivals and events all year around!

Free events and festivals are held in Auckland throughout the year. Few of the most popular among visitors are Lantern Festival, Pasifika Festival and Matariki Festival. During the summer months you can enjoy in the great event called Music in Parks. It doesn’t really matter what kind of music is you favourite because there’s always something for rock, pop, blues, electronic or jazz lovers!

As you can see there’s always something going on in the biggest city of New Zealand and it definitely doesn’t have to be an expensive experience.

Just put the smile on your face and enjoy!

 

 

“Time flies fast when you’re having fun!”

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“Time flies fast when you’re having fun!”, I totally agree with that! One of my favorite places in Auckland for a quick break is definitely Auckland Domain. It’s huge, green, has great walking tracks and it is a perfect place to stop and to chill for a while. And what about these trees? Their transition is my reminder that the time in New Zealand is flying so fast… and I still have a lot to discover…

Top things to do in 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!