New Zealand, South Pacific

South Pacific Part 5: A Visit to A Great Friend in Auckland

New Zealand, we finally made it here…the furthest country in our 5 years of travel and probably the furthermost in terms of distance from Boston! In the flight we were given an immigration plus a declaration form…it was the longest form ever with specific questions! New Zealand has strict bio-security laws on what you can’t bring into the country to protect its agriculture which is the country’s economy based upon. I read that the rule of thumb is if you are unsure, you should declare it just in case. And if you don’t declare it, you could be fined on the spot $400 NZD. Once we got off the plane, we walked through this long hallway to the immigration and border control and on the way, signs and warnings of what you can’t bring, declaration, etc in all sorts of languages! That’s how serious they take it so no excuse for you to say you are not aware of it 😛

We gave the declaration card to the bio-security officer and he went through the questions and on questions that I checked yes, I gave him an explanation such as…food: canned macadamia nuts, sports equipment in contact with water: our snorkeling gear in which we snorkeled in the Cook Islands, etc. I was surprised how quick it was and he didn’t open our luggage to inspect them. It was probably we came from the Cook Islands where they have similar bio-security laws since they are closely tied with New Zealand.

We walked out the international arrival gate and looked around for Jason’s classmate, Evita. There she is! We all are super thrilled to meet again; she came to Boston to visit less than a year ago (hubby and her haven’t seen each other for over 20 years) and now our turn to visit her in New Zealand! Look at those smiles 🙂

She and Tony (her godfather) came to pick us up since she was afraid that her compact car wouldn’t be able to fit all our luggage. They dropped us off at our hotel, Celestion Waldorf Apartment Hotel, to check in and drop off the luggage. I originally planned to use points to stay at the Crowne Plaza Auckland but then saw a promotion from Rocketmiles that give extra AAdvantage miles for first signup and hotel stay. That was why I picked Celestion Waldorf Apartment Hotel to earn extra 5,000 AA miles! Its price was pretty good too for a two bedrooms apartment-hotel room for only $135 per night. Our apartment turned out to be much better than expected! Our bedroom:


The dining, living room, and kitchen; that sofa was super comfy. The studio kitchen has a full sized fridge, microwave, stove, and all the cooking utensils, every convenient if you prefer to cook.



The restroom was good size and clean.


The only downside was the wifi……it wasn’t free sigh! Noticed that I didn’t take photo of the 2nd bed room and kitchen since I was extremely starving that I couldn’t wait to go eat! Tony dropped us off at a Chinese restaurant where we had dim sum, the restaurant was Evita’s first job when she came to New Zealand to study.

Everything tasted so good when starving, but to be fair, the dim sum wasn’t as good as the ones we had in Hawaii nor London but still better than Boston! Trust me, Boston has the worst dim sum ever!


After dim sum, we took a stroll out to the harbor area where many cruise ships and yacht were docked.



Auckland’s Sky Tower could be seen from every corner in Auckland Center.


Auckland looked very much like other big cities that was settled by British so we weren’t particular interested in; the only reason we had a short stay in Auckland was to visit Evita 🙂


Auckland weather changes in a minute according to Evita and it’s true…one minute was cloudy and then another……clear blue sky…and the few drops of rain….


Britomart Transport Center:




More shops on the famous Queen Street. We were searching for Starbucks to see if they have an Auckland gift card, our cousin collects Starbucks gift card from different places but unfortunately gift card is nonexistent in New Zealand!


There’s the Sky Tower again!


We walked all the way to a park and turned back. This wooden gate was weird looking.


Evita said afternoon tea time…urg what..didn’t we just ate? LOL! We asked her if there’s any Taiwanese shaved ice place in Auckland and she said yes! Ever since we had our first Taiwanese shaved ice at Sweet Home Cafe in Honolulu, we had been craving for it!

Evita ordered a taro, red bean, tapioca, and mochi bowl:


Jason ordered a green tea, red bean, mochi, and egg pudding bowl:


I ordered a coconut, jelly, tapioca, and mochi one while brother ordered a mango shaved ice.


Refreshing and good but not as great as Sweet Home Cafe’s 🙁


So much mango on brother’s Mango ice!


It was pretty expensive like $13 NZD per bowl! Thanks Evita 🙂 After chit-chatting and finish with our shaved ice, we were walking again to a supermarket – Countdown! I love to check out the supermarkets in foreign country because that’s the place to check out that country’s specialty food especially soft drinks and chocolates at the lowest price! It was fun to see things or flavors they have that we don’t see in the States 🙂 Evita highly recommend the L&P drink and chocolate. We loved the L&P white chocolate, it wasn’t too sweet, slight hint of lemon taste, and it has popping candy in it so fun to let it melt inside your mouth! I ended up buying 10 bags to bring home as souvenirs for coworkers and they all loved them; most of them never had rock/popping candy so it was very fun to see their reaction when they realized something popping inside their mouth hehe!


Guest what? It was time for dinner LOL! We had been fed nonstop by Evita! She took us to a very authentic family-like Cantonese Restaurant where we had our first famous Australian lobster! That one weighted 1.6 kg (3.5 lbs) and cost $207 NZD OMG it’s like $137 USD for a lobster!!!!! Thanks Evita!


Ginger-scallion stir fried Australian big lobster! You might not think it looked big from this picture….


But how about this? See the size? Woahhhhh! Tony and his wife, Barbara, joined us for dinner too so more people get to try more dishes 🙂


Black pepper New Zealand lamb chop sizzling hot plate, it totally changed my view of lamb! It was so tender and without the strong lamb taste, it tasted better than beef. I can’t believe that I said that lamb tasted better than beef!!!


The “bird nest”, tons of fresh seafood and the scallops there were excellent!


The aftermath of the lobster, Evita and hubby are professional lobster eater!


We were extremely full; the Cantonese food was so much better than Boston!!!!

Next morning (late morning), Evita took us to another dim sum restaurant that she promised better than the one we had. She was right!


Yummy yummy yummy!


After lunch, time to burn some calories! She took us to One Hill Tree for a hike….when she said hiking I thought was like a mountain hike but nope….the road was paved all the way up.


We passed by this old colonial house, it’s a museum inside but we didn’t go in…..we are not a museum type of people remember?


We put on sunscreen before the hike…not going to make the same mistake again!



First, we saw cows, plenty of them!


Aren’t they cute?


Next, we saw those absolutely adorable lambs and look they were looking at me! Looked like they just got an hair cut 🙂


They were roaming around the hill, eat and sleep haha! Look how many of them hanging out under the tree?

But they ran away when we get close 🙁 There’s the monument, I read that there used to be a tree there so that was why it is called One Tree Hill.

Instead of walking up via the paved road, we decided to “hike” up from here hehe!

Crossing lambs 🙂 You could drive all the way up there but we chose to walk to burn some fat.



A big hole in the tree, doesn’t it has the Alice in the Wonderland feel?


It became cloudy…yea that’s the Auckland weather!



Evita said this type of tree blooms around this time of the year, we were just in time!






Some parts of the hill were very steep….


The hill looked like a bowl:


Hubby was running like crazy and made it up in no time while we……


The lambs were everywhere and lamb poops as well so I was watching my steps!





They love to hang out under the tree….





Ohhh Evita said those lambs had their tail cut when they were born so they are much cleaner and less susceptible to diseases.




People must had a lot of time stacking rocks to form their names, I don’t see mines!


Top at the monument offered nice view of the whole Auckland!


Evita’s compact car 😀

She cooked us dinner that night at her place 🙂

Thanks for the awesome hospitality Evita!

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