Getting to Auckland
I flew from London Heathrow to Auckland with Cathay Pacific. The flights were booked with STA and this company was one of the better ones within my budget. The flight times were good and both flights were on time, I left London Heathrow at 8:30pm GMP, had a 4 hour layover in Hong Kong followed by a second flight to Auckland. I was able to do the online check in 48 hours before my flight and pre-select my seats. I opted for the window seat as you have something to lean on if you are trying to sleep, however, be prepared to have to climb over people to get to the toilet. The onboard food and entertainment were good enough, I managed to watch The Martian, The Dressmaker, The first two episodes of The Walking Dead, a Ted Talk and about 20 minutes of Paper towns (which to my surprise I didn’t like). The one thing I was anxious about was my checked Bag being lost or damaged and thankfully it arrived promptly and in perfect conditions.
All in all, I would recommend this airline to a friend.
Getting from the Airport to the Hostel
Transport from the Airport to the City Centre where my hostel (Nomads Auckland) is located could not have been any easier. As I stepped out of the Arrivals exit, I was greeted by the sight of the SkyBus. Which is a Bus that constantly runs from the Airport to the City (I believe there is a bus every 10 minutes). I purchased a one way ticket at the Kiosk for $16 Dollars (you can buy a return ticket for a small discount but the ticket has to be used within one month of purchase) and when I mentioned the name of my Hostel, the lady behind the counter advised me that the bus stop I needed was number 5. As Auckland is full of backpackers, people who work here seem to know the location of the main Hostels which are mostly all located along Queens Street (A long road which runs through the City Centre full of shops, cafes, bars and restaurants). At every stop down Queen Street the bus driver would announce which Hostels were close by and sure enough at stop 5 he confirmed that anyone going to Nomads Hostel should get off the bus. Easy Peasy!
Once off the bus, the walk from the Bus Stop to the Hostel was less than 5 minutes, which is great because with less than 3 hours sleep in two days, and with theweigh of an adult, well fed hippo on my back I was exhausted. TIP: when I booked the Hostel I went on google maps and selected ‘street view’ to familiarise myself with where the hostel was located. This was really helpful when I got off the bus tired and delirious as I recognised the area and knew exactly where to go.
Check in was quick, I had pre-booked my accommodation through hostel world, when you book through them online they only take a 10% deposit for your stay, therefore on arrival be prepared to pay for the the balance. For two nights accommodation in an 8 Bed female dorm I paid $54.60. The hostel is exactly what I was expecting, great location, good facilities but basic and a little run down. The rooms have reasonably comfortable bunkbeds, and lockers under the bed. The downside is that they don’t have free internet (which apparently is a common theme in NZ Hostels), however you can purchase internet access for $3 per hour which isn’t too bad. I also found out on the second day that you have one hour free internet access per day in the Hostel Shop which is located right next to the Hostel and is furnished with sofas and bean bags. The reason I chose this hostel is because it is very close to one of the pickup points for the Kiwi Experience Bus which I will be starting tomorrow. The pickup time is 7am from Queen Street, therefore I wanted to stay somewhere in close proximity to basically fall out of bed and carry my backpacks for as little distance as possible!
First night at the Hostel
Once I arrived to my room, I met the girls who I would be sharing with. We all chatted and exchanged stories of how we got here, what our plans are etc. It was nice to be exposed to the welcoming and friendly 'backpacking' attitude straight away. It confirmed what everyone who has travelled before me had told me - Everyone is in the same boat, you might be travelling on your own but you are always surrounded by people who are trying to have a great experience just like you.
Tomorrow I start on the Kiwi Experience Bus which I will remain on for the next 5 weeks. I am really excited as we will be visiting some breathtaking places, doing incredible activities and making amazing memories along the way.
Of course, you will virtually be coming along with me :)