I didn’t really like Auckland. I still can’t figure out why though. I ran into some people who felt the same while others seemed to really enjoy it. The surrounding areas are actually quite beautiful-but all of New Zealand is quite beautiful so that doesn’t really make Auckland special. Auckland is surrounded by volcanoes and sandy beaches. But the city itself is quite ordinary. I always despise the saying, a city is just like any other city. Some people seem to not bother with cities when they travel, sticking their nose up to the dense population and chain stores, believing that the real spirit of a country is found in the less frequented areas. I never agreed with this, having been raised in a city I believe that a city can represent a collaboration of culture and growth; it can reveal a lot about a country. There is always something unique about certain cities, whether its art and culture, architecture, or overall ambiance. However to me, Auckland really seemed like a generic, bland, mundane city. I did all my “sight-seeing” in one day. I went up to the Sky Tower and looked down at the city. I viewed the sky line from the water which looked like a commercial shipping area rather than a beautiful waterfront. The CBD was a grid with square blocked buildings. There were very few hidden laneways, outdoor cafes or novelty shops that would pump some life into the place. I walked down K Road which is supposed to be the bohemian section of town, but was unimpressed with the tattoo and sex shops and mostly kebab themed restaurants. Maybe I just didn’t find the niche that Auckland has to offer, or maybe Auckland only existed to serve as the largest city in a very sparsely populated country. Either way, I set off for Wellington two days later.
Now Wellington is such a cutie compared to Auckland. Infamously known as San Francisco's sister city, I felt right at home here. Its built on hills, not as steep as SF, but similar, with Victorian houses lining the waterfront. The downtown area was the Embarcadero equivalent, and the city itself felt very green and clean. There is one cable car that takes you up to the botanical gardens that overlook the city. Cuba Street cuts through downtown and offers unique cafes and restaurants. The Te Papa, New Zealand's national museum, is also located in Wellington and teaches visitors about the Maori culture and its influence on Kiwi life today. Maori culture is really prominent and celebrated throughout New Zealand. Kia Ora means “welcome” in Maori and is painted around the city.