Aukland Hop on Hop Off Bus – this is an adventure we choose every time we visit a new City, so we were eager to learn more about Aukland. The cost was $45 NZ and included two routes. We boarded the bus at 9:40 AM and finished about 3 PM.
We immediately noticed a few differences from our usual touring experiences: 1) most of the NZ busses were not double decker; 2) there were no headsets for choosing alternate languages as the commentary was taped and ran through a central speaker system; and, 3) the commentary was very dry and matter of fact.
We chose to get off the bus near the highest point in the city, Mt. Eden. It has a footpath to get to the top which takes about 20 min. From the top you get a magnificent 360° view of the city and also a look below at the deep caldera. We were standing on an extinct volcano! In the distance you can see several more extinct volcanoes. It was a fun part of our day!
The second stop we made was at Mission Bay. Again the weather was perfect for a stroll on the beach and we did some more shell collecting. I had wanted to kayak on Mission Bay, but the winds were too chilly for me. The area is dotted by some spectacular, towering trees. The drive is lined by “Christmas trees”, which bloom with red flowers around Christmas. Also there is a beautiful fountain in the center of the park.
Since we still had plenty of time, we also hopped off at Parnell Village. We ate at Burger Fuel, which offered a great hamburger. Then we wandered through the village streets and happened on Chocolate Boutique Cafe. Not only was it charming, but the menu of hot chocolates was very tempting. We were just too full!