I’m an early thirties web developer based in the North West of England and recent newcomer to blogging.
I set off on my first round the world trip in 2003 which was a three week organised trip that gave me a taste for the big wide world. In 2006 I took a year out and backpacked with my partner around South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand and a couple of South Pacific Islands.
Since returning I’ve been to countries closer to home and made a trip back to Australia and New Zealand last year.
How did you get involved in writing/blogging?
I love to travel and most of all, talk about travel. Friends and family were always asking where I’ve been and what I’ve done as they were thinking of visiting the same places. The natural thing was to start up a blog so I could share my tips and experiences with others.
Describe your earliest remembered ‘adventure’.
As a child travelling from Manchester down to Cornwall always felt like an adventure as it always felt so far.
Share you ‘guilty’ travel secret.
Trying different foods in every country I go to is always a must, but I do admit that if I’ve had too much I sneak into McDonalds. The crazy thing is I haven’t been to one in the UK for at least five years!
Rockstar blogger or bestselling author and why?
Easily has to be a rockstar blogger. Although having my name in print would be exciting, it is far outweighed by the ability to interact with readers on my blog and if I ‘rock’ at blogging then I would love it.
What is the best tip you have ever been given?
My best tip would actually be a place I hadn’t considered visiting on my major round the world trip. We met a couple of Norwegians in Penang, Malaysia who recommended a hostel called Geckos on the nearby Langkawi. Not only was the hostel really hospitable but Langkawi became one of my favourite places in the world.
Where would you be if you could be anywhere right now?
Auckland, hands down for reasons I shall explain later!
If you could travel with any three people, celebrity, fictional or historical who would be your companions?
Charley Boorman would be on the list for his sense of adventure and to add humour to the group. Michael Palin for his ability to pick out really interesting places to visit and my third would have to be my fiancé Angela as I’d want to share the experience with her.
What invention do you wish had been invented already?
A teleporter would mean I’d be able to visit more places and it was also be a greener way to travel. Either that or a hoverboard
Why Auckland Stole My Heart
For those that know me well, they are aware that given the opportunity I would leave the UK shores and plant my feet firmly on New Zealand soil and in particular, the city of Auckland.
Home to around 1.4 million people (a third of the population of New Zealand) the ‘City of Sails’, so named due to the large number of boats found in the harbour, found a place in my heart during a six month stay in 2006.
However my relationship with Auckland didn’t get off to the best of beginnings. During a three day stay a few years earlier I spent a day wandering the city centre and came to the conclusion that it was just a city for workers and that as a tourist your options were limited unless you wanted to shop for tacky souvenirs in the numerous shops that line Queen Street.
So it was with some trepidation that we decided that Auckland was where we would base ourselves for six months to find jobs to fund the remainder of our round the world trip.
Discovering the suburbs
It was with friends who had recommended Auckland that we discovered the suburbs of the city and what I feel really makes Auckland so special. Staying with them in Epsom to the south we were a stone’s throw away from One Tree Hill, one of several volcanic cones that are dotted around the landscape. One Tree Hill and the adjoining Cornwall Park were a great escape for walks, runs or just for a quick coffee or ice cream.
We moved into a hostel in Mt Eden shortly after where we stayed for a month as it was an easier commute to work. It’s a quaint little area which seems to revolve food with butchers, greengrocers, delis and a great fishmonger where sold excellent fish and chips.
Our final ‘home’ of the trip was a city centre apartment in the shadow of the SkyTower and opposite the headquarters of TVNZ. Being in the centre meant we were in walking distance of all the restaurants and bars around Viaduct Harbour.
On a recent return we stayed on the North Shore and home to its numerous bays. Each bay holds small communities all with independent shops and little cafes and bars. We took time to walk from Mairangi Bay to Browns Bay walking along cliff side paths, rocky outcrops and sandy beaches all with views out to sea and to Rangitoto Island.
Anyone for Champagne and Pizza?
The people of Auckland are among the friendliest I’ve met and very laid back. It wasn’t unusual to open the fridge at work to find it loaded with beer and champagne bottles. Anything from a birthday to moving from the second floor to the third floor (this really did happen) was cause for popping the cork and ordering in the pizzas.
We have made many friends whilst we were there and I feel what Auckland gave me was a sense of belonging and pride to be there.
Something for the weekend
Weekends were taken up in leaving the city centre and exploring more of the scenery that New Zealand has to offer. We would often catch the ferry across Waitemata Harbour to Devonport to sample the local chocolates or on to Rangitoto Island to hike up the volcanic rock and get the great views back over the city. If you are a wine lover, then Waiheke Island is the place to go with a couple of vineyards offering tours and tastings.
A Sunday morning Flat White coffee in our local Esquires or in one of the cafes along High Street was usually followed by a browse through the stalls of Victoria Market.
I think the secret to Auckland is to not to judge it on the city but on its surroundings. I was right in my initial judgement in that the city is for workers but if you get out and visit the islands, the North Shore or the volcanic hills to the south then you’ve really found the real Auckland.
There are many wonderful cities around the world famed for their landmarks, culture or food. Auckland rarely makes it into the Top 10 but for me the people and the nooks and crannies of Auckland will always make it number one in my heart.
Kia ora Thank you