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The Leaving Journal


NEW ZEALAND | Monday, 19 January 2015 | Views [280]

I regret spending four days in Auckland. The highlight of our time there was an afternoon spent at The Backyard Bar in North Auckland with my friend Leigh (who I met at surf camp in Morocco last year). Local DJ's, an epic water slide and a brood of friendly, crazy locals made it a grand introduction to the kiwi recreational lifestyle. The star of a stag party body-slammed Leigh on the ground, another guy sucker-punched the bouncer in the jaw and our new buddy Jimmy staple gunned himself in the hand. A public bar party in New Zealand puts the wildest US frat party to shame.Outside of this glorious afternoon (which cost us 24 hours of recovery and some serious budget damage), Auckland is the stereotypical picture of an urban, industry-focused city: big buildings, scattered character and not a whole lot to see. Below are the pretty bits.

The Food Truck
The Food Truck is the epitome of Auckland's very popular "warehouse-chic" restaurant scene. An open-air floor plan invites a breeze, old glass milk jugs act as water vases, aluminum cans hold silverware and the servers are cheerful (probably because they're jacked up on chia seeds and kale). We had an Instagram-worthy beefroot burger and flax-seed guacamole: our first real food off the plane and it did not disappoint. Any place that prides itself on "awesome mayo" is a winner in my book.

Fred's, Ponsonby
A tiny closet of a restaurant with garden seating and a fifties soda shop feel, Fred's has revolutionized the iced coffee by dumping a scoop of ice cream in it and covering it in heavy cream. So, really, they just turned it into a milkshake. I'm okay with it.

The Bamber House
Clean & quiet - an excellent place to recover from jet-lag, catch up on sleep and relax. 10-minute bus ride from city center but only a 5-minute walk to Mt. Eden. Kind of a scrappy area, but the house itself is very well-kept and tranquil. Staff were polite & accommodating and I was extremely impressed with how often they were found cleaning. Oddly, they don't assign beds, only rooms - caused some confusion, but I guess this is a common (and unfortunate) practice all throughout NZ. If you do stay here, grab breakfast at Gala. Not worth a trip out of the city, but convenient if you're already in Mt. Eden.

Don't stay at Nomads Fat Camel Hostel unless you want to drink until 4am and not sleep. In which case, it's perfect. The staff were also extremely kind - Ghulam helped me get my iPad back (long story).

The Workingmen's Club, Ponsonby
Despite it's suggestive name, we found this place packed with a mixed-gender crowd and wandered in. The bartenders were sweet, scantily-clad chicks and the DJ might have been 15 years old, but we didn't care because he played a pretty delightful mix of house music, old-school hip-hop and top 40. Someone actually asked us, "What made you decide to come to a locals bar?"

The Longroom, Ponsonby
This is the kind of place I'd avoid like the plague in the US. Girls in six-inch heels that will shoulder check you if you don't maintain a two-foot radius, guys in Ed Hardy shirts a size too small, all-leather-everything, LASERS. In the US, these are the clubs where people go to sulk and judge. It's hard to find anyone having fun. But despite it's appearance, this is not true of The Longroom. Everyone was perfectly buzzed, particularly the masses of silly people on the dance floor, and laughter poured in from the large outdoor patio. The bartenders were SMILING (?!) and genuinely wanted to take your drink order (maybe because they get paid a living wage and aren't scrounging for tips). Generally a happy, classy place.

Brewbar, Britomart
BEER! I sipped on a beautiful, cloudy Northern Steamship wheat while watching the hip, young professional crowd schmooze on a Thursday after work. Great spot for people watching and next door to an awesome little park complete with BEAN BAGS! Kiwis love beanbags. And being barefoot. And burgers.

Tags: auckland, bars, cities, hostels, restaurants


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