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New Zealand (Day 12): Auckland and Everything NZ

Summary: The last leg of our New Zealand trip was a stay in Auckland, this country's most populous city. It is a melting pot of culture, with 39% of its residents born overseas. Even with such large foreign influence, in recent years, New Zealand has shifted its focus to include Te Reo Māori (the native language) as an effort to revitalize the native Māori culture. This is evident throughout the city with bilingual signage posted throughout. Another example is the All Blacks rugby team, are known not only for being the most successful rugby team ever known, but whose players famously begin each game with a haka performance. Our first day in Auckland involved visiting the Auckland Museum and the iconic Sky Tower, followed by a fun afternoon at the All Blacks Experience.

Auckland Museum. We first arrived early by plane and checked into our AirBnB. From there we spent just a few hours at Auckland Museum but you can easily spend all day here. This museum is beautifully done and we recommend coming here to learn about Auckland and New Zealand history.

Sky Tower. Next we took an Uber back to central Auckland and bought tickets to the viewing platform of the Sky Tower. You can also buy tickets to bungy jump off the Tower ("Sky Jump"), an attraction we most definitely skipped! Instead, we spent time walking around the platform to view Auckland from above.

All Blacks Experience. Adult tickets for the All Blacks Experience are a whopping $35 for a 45-minute tour. Personally, we thought it was worth the expense.


Coming from the USA, where the sport of rugby isn't as popular as it is in New Zealand, we wanted to see what the fuss was all about. This sport that arrived around the 1840s, is New Zealand's largest spectator sport. The All Blacks Experience does a great job of explaining the history, introducing you to the current team, and making you an instant fan of this rough sport.

Giapo Ice Cream. This popular ice cream shop was closed during the pandemic and had only re-opened just the week before we arrived in New Zealand. With a slogan of "Normal Ice Cream is boring," you can see why the line out the door must always be long. We capped our day off with a stop here and only regretted not coming back another day during our visit (bottom right is ice cream over donuts!).

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