For different view of Southern Hemisphere life, make a point of visiting Antarctica while you're in Auckland. At Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World you can meet King and Gentoo Penguins in a world of real snow and ice.
Piha is a small area a little north of Auckland (less than 1 hour by car, if I remember it).
We took a very pretty rainforest walk here to Kite Kite falls (pictured).
The area is also not far from the famous West Coast beaches with their black sand....
It was all very nice and scenic.
BNZ Shopping Centre
BNZ Tower Shopping Centre is on the ground and first floor of the building. You will find fine jewellers, antiques, florists, cosmetics and perfumery amongst others as well as a Robert Harris Coffee Shop. On the basement level there is also a food court as well as the office to buy your token for going up the tower.
Long Term Car Parking at Auckland Airport
I used the Long Term carpark at Auckland Airport Domestic Terminal which I found to be very reasonably priced and not worth making other arrangements.
I also used the credit card service SmartPay where you insert your credit card into the machine on entrance, the barrier arm is raised and you enter. On exit, some days later you merely enter the same credit card and it charges the card, issues you a receipt and you may exit.
This is the most simple and convenient system.
The fee is calculated hourly, I was there 2days and 55 minutes for a cost of $NZD40.00.
What is also good about this is that there were trolleys right there in the park for me to take my luggage to the terminal which was merely a 5 minute walk away. The path was covered all the way, so very convenient. The carpark is uncovered.
Now there is a Park & Ride long term carpark just 2 km from the terminals, with free courtesy shuttle bus every 15 mins. Parks are monitored by security while you are away. The rates are very reasonable: Stay for 5 days – only $59.00; Stay for 7 days - only $69.00 .
You can read more about it on the website quoted here in this tip.
Chinese food on Queen Street
Chinese Restaurant is a small no-frills restaurant selling Chinese and Korean food on Queen Street.
It is located amongst a row of Asian restaurants (Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Mongolian) at the upper end of Queen Street, close to Karangahape Road.
The interior is unspectacular, with no particular effort having been made with regard to the decor. At the time of my visit, the other diners were mainly Asian students.
The menu includes a number of rice dishes (fried with chicken, pork, seafood, vegetables, etc..), noodle dishes (with various sauces, soups, meats and seafood) and a number of main dishes (particularly stir frys). The main dishes were quite expensive (25-30 NZD) and the menu frequently stated that the dish in question was recommended for 2-4 people, so I would expect the portions to be large.
The staff are friendly and the waiter service is excellent. Each time I emptied one of the side dishes, the waiter would appear in a flash to fill it up again. I opted for:
Prawn fried rice and soy sauce - Cost: 11 NZD
A large plate of rice with circa 10 prawns, egg, carrots, cucumber, sweetcorn and a soy sauce containing diced onions.
It was served with a bowl of spicy seafood soup (containing red chillis, onions, octopus and squid), as well as a couple of complimentary side dishes (one containing sliced onions and a yellow fruit of some kind; the other containing vegetables in a tangy sauce).
I was also given a complimentary bottle of mineral water.
The food was pretty average, but the portions were large and the service was outstanding.
Lion Red beer (330ml) - Cost: 5 NZD
Average Chinese food and excellent service in an area with plenty of Asian restaurants to choose from.