6 Day Trips from Auckalnd

Containing about a third of New Zealand’s population and a large proportion of the big businesses, it’s easy to see why lots of backpackers and ex-pats decide to make Auckland home. The city is hardly bustling in comparison with London, Sydney and New York but the surrounding suburbs are charming and packed full of independent bars and restaurants to relax in after work. In the CBD, it can be easy to forget you’re in one of the most naturally beautiful countries in the world but you don’t have to travel far to get a taste of the real Kiwi lifestyle. Here are some of my favourite day trips from Auckland for when you just want to leave the city behind.


Piha Beach

Piha Beach by Real World Runaway

Drive Time: 50mins

Located on the West Coast, Piha beach is a surfer’s paradise. Take advantage of the rough waters of the Tasman Sea or explore the various nooks and crannies along the shoreline. If you’re feeling up to it, climb Lion Rock for amazing views over the black sand.


Kitekite Falls

Kitekite Falls by Real World Runaway

Drive Time: 50mins

Located in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, Kitekite Falls is a great place to relax for a day. The walking track is about an hour and half round trip to the base of the falls but it’s definitely worth the extra 20 minutes to get to the top. Go on a weekday and with a little luck, you’ll get the pools to yourself. They can get pretty cold but the views over the ranges are not to be missed.


Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island by Real World Runaway

Drive Time: 40 minute ferry

For wine lovers, a trip to Waiheke Island is a must. You can pay for a wine tour but most of the vineyards just let you rock up and do a tasting for around $10/20. For a bit of added fun, head to Wild on Waiheke where they offer archery and clay pigeon shooting as well as food and tastings. Maybe go for the dangerous activities pre-wine though. Just to be safe.


Manukau Heads

Manukau Heads Lighthouse by Real World Runaway
Drive Time: 1hr 30mins

Often described as one of Auckland’s “hidden gems”, the Manukau Lighthouse provides some amazing views of the Waitakere Ranges across the water. Despite this, it’s a long way to drive for the lighthouse alone. Make the trip worthwhile by visiting one of the amazing nearby beaches. Even in summer they’re pretty empty and you can have a whole stretch of sand all to yourself.


Goat Island

Goat Island by Real World Runaway

Drive Time: 1hr 30mins

The Goat Island Marine Reserve is a snorkeler’s dream, full of interesting sea creatures to discover. Don’t expect water full of tropical reefs, instead, go hunting for string rays and comb through the seaweed for beautiful fish. It’s more of a treasure hunt than a window display. If snorkelling isn’t for you, rent a kayak or take a glass bottom boat tour.

Added Bonus: The little town closed to the reserve is the only place I’ve found that does a proper bacon sandwich.


Karekare Falls

Day trips from Auckland: Karekare Falls
Drive Time: 50mins

Close to Kitekite Falls (in name and location), Karekare is usually a little less busy. The base of the waterfall is right off the road but most people tend to not stray far from their cars, meaning the track to the top is often quiet. Follow the stream to the end to find the oasis style pools that feed the waterfall. Just don’t forget a towel. It’s pretty chilly without one.


Where’s your favourite place in Auckland to escape the city? Let me know below!

Katie x

What to Eat in AucklandWhile traditional New Zealand food seems to barely extend beyond a Maori Hangi, that does not mean that Kiwis don’t know how to cook! Don’t be fooled by the fast-food filled shop fronts of Queen Street, Auckland is full of fantastic, independent eateries, peppered across it’s many suburbs and newly renovated areas. As much as it pains me to say, there’s no way you (or me, or anyone) could possibly eat everything there is to try here, so these are my recommendations of where to start when deciding what to eat in Auckland. Bare in mind that my taste is not at all fancy and I pretty much have the palate of a child, so if you’re looking for Michelin Star dining, this is not the place.


Best Chains

Sal’s Pizza

Sals Pizza

Moving to a new city can be stressful. Finding a new house, a new job and new friends can be hard, but nothing is as challenging as finding a new go-to pizza place. I moved to Auckland in mourning of my previous favourites, worried that life would never be quite the same. And then came Sal’s. They serve amazing individual slices, 30 inch pizzas and garlic knots which means they cater to every stage of hunger and are liberally scattered across the city so you’re never too far away from heaven. The perfect local pizzeria. Thank you Sal.

Burger Burger

Burger Burger in PonsonbyBurgers are one of the most popular foods in Auckland but none are raved about as much as Burger Burger‘s burgers (confusing). With locations in Newmarket and hipster hangout, Ponsonby Central as well as one down by the water in Takapuna, they have the most popular neighbourhoods covered.  The sandwiches are simple and they provide good quality for a relatively cheap price, especially as you usually need to pay at least 20% more just to enter into hipster territory. 

Dante’s

Dante's Pizza in Ponsonby

I don’t know if it’s obvious but I LOVE pizza. Finding a great New York style slice is one challenge but finding a good Neapolitan is something else entirely. Another Ponsonby favourite with roots in Takapuna, Dante’s serves up fantastic, authentic Italian pizza in a restaurant that steers well clear of the pretentiousness often found in these areas. With sticks of salami hanging from the wooden bar, and a reasonably priced menu, this place offers the experience of a good family Italian.

Mexico

Mexico in Takapuna

Auckland is full of Mexican chains but the imaginatively named Mexico is by far the best. They specialise in shareable street food with the tacos and fried chicken being my personal favourite. They also make amazing homemade soda and serve 10 different flavours of margarita! Sign up to their club and get free corn chips with salsa or guacamole every time you visit!

Best Ugly Bagels

Best Ugly Bagels in Newmarket

A New Zealand institution, Best Ugly Bagels is a rite of passage whilst in Auckland.  Grab one of their imaginative creations or take home a pack of freshly baked deliciousness to make you’re housemates jealous on a daily basis. You can find them in the CBD or head out to Newmarket for a bite in a perfect people watching spot.

 CBD

Orleans

Orleans in Britomart

Do no visit Auckland without eating the fried chicken and waffles at Orleans.  I’m sure are all great, but I’ve never felt the need to stray past the glorious waffles. Take a seat in their adorable courtyard in the Britomart area and peruse the menu of classic dishes from Louisiana, before ultimately deciding that you can’t just take my word for it. Go on a Wednesday and get them, plus a shake, for only $12! How could you not?!

Want the real deal? Check out my food recommendations for New Orleans here!

 Depot

I haven’t actually been to Depot myself because of my complete aversion to sea food (it’s an oyster bar) but I’ve heard fantastic things from those people who think slimy food is good food. Owned by Al Brown who also has Best Ugly Bagels and The Federal Deli in his repertoire, you can be sure to find a young and trendy atmosphere along with some pretty tasty meals.

Baduzzi

This modern Italian in the newly developed (where isn’t?!) Wynyard Quarter is named after meatballs but it can do other stuff pretty well too. Don’t be expecting pizzas but Baduzzi do a great range of pastas and mains as well as four kinds of meatballs for you to try. Note to self: Wood Fired Bistecca is not a fancy word for pizza. It means steak. Now you look stupid.

Ponsonby

The Blue Breeze Inn

The large Asian population of Auckland means there is no shortage of authentic Asian food in the city, and The Blue Breeze Inn provides some of the best. With an innovative selection of interesting small plates and mains, it’s perfect for sharing while sipping a few cocktails on the outdoor terrace. They also have a smaller, “chop chop” restaurant round the corner so those wanting a quick bite.

Mekong Baby

Just down the road from The Blue Breeze Inn is Mekong Baby. Serving a very similar kind of shareable, Asian fusion (tapas style food is very popular here), the food quality and atmosphere are very similar. The duck massaman curry pushes Mekong Baby into first place for me but be sure to give both a try and see for yourself.

El Sizzling Chorizo

El Sizzling Chorizo Ponsonby

Meat is the order of the day at Argentinian BBQ joint, El Sizzling Chorizo. And pretty great meat it is too. Order meats separately or opt for one of the platters (pictured above) which can come with a variety of sides including empanadas and fried potatoes. The kitchen is open so you can watch as the chefs pile up steaks, ribs and sausages on the grill. Not suitable for vegetarians although they do have a go at being accommodating by providing a grilled cheese option. Nice try.

Freeman and Grey

Freeman and Grey’s food isn’t exactly mind blowing but I’m including it as they offer $4 pizzas during there Happy Hours, which are 12-2pm and 5-7.30pm everyday. The topping choice are interesting and the quality is definitely good enough for $4 to feel like a fantastic deal. Join their “best friends club” to claim a free pizza and $7 glasses of wine from now until forever. What more do you need?

Where is your favourite place to eat in Auckland? Let me know below!

Katie x

Behind the Filter: Gardens by the Bay by Real World Runaway

I’m not made to be in photos. I’m awkward and shy and my mouth does this weird thing where it can only smile on one side. Because of this, it’s fair to say that, as my blogging life became more photography heavy, I had my fair share of bloopers, outtakes and mishaps. While Insta-life may seem fabulous (and trust me, travelling the world is still pretty great), I thought I’d give you an insight into the not-so-glamourous moments that go into creating the perfect Instagram picture in this Behind the Filter series.


The Picture

Behind the Filter: Gardens by the Bay by Real World Runaway

The Story

This picture was taken on our first day in Singapore at the Gardens by the Bay. The super trees are something I’ve wanted to see for a very long time and it was amazing to go up into the canopy and see the city from above. What a perfect moment right? Wrong. About 30 minutes before this picture was taken, I was sitting on a bench with my head between my legs, whilst the possibility of fainting kept toying with my body. Singapore is HOT and I was stupidly not prepared for that after spending the previous few months in British winter. Top tip: Drink lots of water kids. I downed a bottle of water and climbed the stairs up to the walk way, only to be confronted with another issue. I was suddenly scared of heights.

Behind the Filter: Gardens by the Bay by Real World Runaway

Just a few moments before my one of my favourite pictures of all time was taken, this beauty of a shot came to being of the exact moment I realised that I wasn’t that big on heights. I don’t know what it was. I do a lot of rock climbing, I love zip wires, I’ve been on top of some of the tallest buildings in the world, but this 22 metre high walk way just got to me. I don’t know whether it was the remnants of the fainty feeling or the fact the bridge felt like it was swinging just slightly but it just wasn’t working for me. I pushed through though and was so glad I did. The Gardens and the walk way are just incredible and it’s well worth going for a visit. Just try not to faint.

Do you have a funny story behind your Instagram and want to be featured in Behind the Filter? Feel free to get in touch!

Katie x

Believe it or not, even us travel bloggers like to play tourist sometimes. There’s a lot of judgement out there expecting us to be ‘travellers’ not ‘tourists’ but there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a good theme park or zoo. In between my days exploring the city/country of Singapore, I headed to Sentosa Island for some good, old-fashioned, touristy fun! The resort is packed with activities, beaches and shops so it’s practically impossible to be bored. Here is my ultimate guide to the island so you can have the best trip ever!

Warning: This definitely not the ‘real Singapore’ so travel snobs, turn back now.

Ultimate Guide to Sentosa Island by Real World Runaway


What To Do

  • Universal Studios: I’m a sucker for a good theme park so I could never resist a Universal Studios. With 7 movie themed lands to explore, you’re transported to another world (or several worlds) full of rides, shows and your favourite characters. It’s nowhere near as big as its Florida counterpart but still houses a surprising number of big, thrill rides that are well worth the visit. Don’t miss Human vs Cylon and the classic Jurassic Park Log Flume.

Ultimate Guide to Sentosa Island by Real World Runaway

  • iFly: Sentosa Island houses the world’s largest indoor wind tunnel for simulation sky diving. If you feel like jumping out of a plane isn’t for you (fair enough) then this is the best alternative. It even has a glass wall so you still get some amazing views while you fly!
  • S.E.A Aquarium: Home to over 800 species, the S.E.A Aquarium is an impressive, hands on experience. See dolphins and sharks and even take a scuba diving class in one of the open ocean style exhibits!
  • Palawan Beach: Just because this beach is man made does not make it any less impressive. Relax on the luxurious white sand or head over the iconic rope bridge the visit the Southernmost Point of Continental Asia (although it’s on an island so I’m not really sure how that works). It’s as close to a tropical paradise as you can get in a country that is entirely city.

Ultimate Guide to Sentosa Island by Real World Runaway

  • Mega Adventure Park: Are you a fan of adrenaline? Then Mega Adventure is for you. Including huge zip wires, high ropes courses and a free-fall simulator, you’ll fly through the trees, with great views of the beaches below.
  • Adventure Cove Water Park: One of the most pleasantly surprising activities on the island was the Adventure Cove Water Park. The relatively cheap ticket includes unlimited access to a range of exciting (and mildly terrifying) waterslides, a huge lazy river, complete with a wall of sting rays, and an obstacle course. The highlight though is a snorkelling experience through their imitation coral reef.

Ultimate Guide to Sentosa Island by Real World Runaway

  • Wings of Time: End your day by taking in the spectacular Wings of Time show. The outdoor arena is filled with music, lasers and fire as they tell the story of a bird called Shahbaz. I don’t know why this bird is special. I think visuals have taken priority over storyline here. But it’s still a pleasant way to spend an evening.
  • Sentosa Merlion: Singapore is pretty rich, right? And what guards that prosperity? A giant Merlion, obviously. Whether you go inside the statue or just marvel at it from the pavement, it’s well worth a look. You can read more about the legend of the Merlion here.
  • There’s so much more to do from street luging to a trick eye museum. Find all the activities here.

Getting There

There are a range of hotels on the island but you’ll find a much bigger range and better deals elsewhere. It’s incredibly easy to get to Sentosa Island from the city so there isn’t much point staying there unless Sentosa is the main reason for your trip.

Ultimate Guide to Sentosa Island by Real World Runaway

  • Sentosa Express: The free train departing from Vivo City shopping centre (a short walk from HarbourFront MRT) is the easiest way to get to Sentosa. It’s also pretty handy for navigating around the island if you don’t feel like walking with stops by the theme parks and beaches.
  • Walking: We’d been told that the train cost $5 (curse whoever that was) so we walked across the boardwalk to Sentosa 3 times before getting tired and giving in to the train. The walk is easy (especially if you’re going to Universal or the aquarium at the front of the island), gives you a great view of the city and gives you plenty of time to eat all the tasty treats you picked up at Vivo City.
  • Cable Car: An activity in itself, travel in style on the Singapore cable car. Obviously the pricier option, the cable car gives you stunning, panoramic views of the area as you float high above the water. Whilst not really a viable form of travel in the long term, it might be worth doing once if you’re on the less thrifty side. 

Top Tips

  • There’s an ice lolly shop by the Merlion. It’s amazing, but if the lady behind the counter warns you that the lemon lolly is incredibly sour, BELIEVE HER. I love lemon. I did not take her advice. I happily ate my lolly, enjoying the sourness in all its lemony glory, then my tongue started bleeding and a couldn’t eat for the rest of the day. I think it was the Merlion’s fault. Not cool.
  • OK now a real tip. We bought all our Sentosa tickets through a website called Klook. It offers huge savings on attractions around Asia and it was 100% legit. We were a little nervous at first but all of our tickets worked perfectly and we saved over £50.

Ultimate Guide to Sentosa Island by Real World Runaway

  • For Universal, get there early and go straight to the back of the park. There’ll be no queues for these rides as people just go on the first thing they see.
  • At Adventure Cove, go to the snorkelling reef as soon as you arrive as this gets incredibly busy as the day goes on. Also, lockers are expensive so try to bring minimal stuff.

Have you been to Sentosa? What would you recommend?

Katie x

While I do agree that 2016 has been a year that will fuel pub quizzes for at least a century, it’s been a pretty great year for me personally. Whilst I’ve always loved travelling, 2016 really saw the start of the obsession. I graduated from University, created Real World Runaway, crossed off 5 countries and 7 cities from my bucket list, visited a few old favourites and planned a whole 18 months of travel for 2017/18. But travelling isn’t just about where you go, what you do there is also fairly important. So in the spirit of ending the year on a high (we all need some positivity in 2016), here are my favourite bucket list experiences I crossed off this year!

Travel firsts of 2016 by Real World Runaway


1) Tearing Up the Slopes (Or At Least Trying To)

Skiing, (well snowboarding really), has always been something I’ve wanted to try, and with university coming to an end, I thought 2016 was my last chance! Whilst I was a pretty dreadful snowboarder, I found out that actual time on the slope is only a very small part of ski life. From amazing scenery to mountain top bars to fantastic food (so much cheeeeeeese!), you can have a great time in the mountains without having to hurl yourself down one!

travel firsts of 2016

(Obviously not posed at all)


2) Travelling Just to Catch Up with Friends

Last year, some American girls turned up in Newcastle and quickly became some of my favourite people. When they left in June, I couldn’t wait to organise a trip to see them. Me and Pete travelled to Baltimore at the end of October to experience Halloween, American style. Baltimore is not somewhere I ever thought I’d end up, but getting to be there with locals (and friends) was  great. We got the full US college experience, from on-campus Starbucks to house parties complete with beer pong and even went pumpkin picking at an orchard. We definitely wouldn’t have had as much fun if we were just dropped off in Baltimore with nothing but a travel guide. Sometimes who you’re with matters more than where you are.

Also, AMERICAN DON’T DRESS SCARY FOR HALLOWEEN. We had a serious Mean Girls moment as we turned up to a Halloween party as zombies and people literally asked us “why are you dressed so scary”. They were very quick to treat the token English outsiders as celebrities.

pumpkins


3) Surviving an International Festival

I’ve always been a big festival fan. A weekend with your friends, glitter and some of the world’s best bands is my idea of heaven. The issue with this is that I’m from Britain and unfortunately the combination of rain, mud and a lack of showers does not make me a very happy bunny. This year I went to my first international festival, Sziget in Budapest. Whilst it wasn’t quite up to the standards of Glastonbury, the atmosphere was brilliant and we definitely weren’t short of things to fill the 7 days with. The festival is close enough to Budapest to head into the city for the morning, stay in a hostel if camping isn’t for you or use the spas to keep on top of your personal hygiene (although the camp showers were some of the best I’ve seen at a festival). I can’t wait to try out some more international festivals, away from the dreary British weather!

Travel Firsts of 2016 by Real World Runaway

What to learn more about Sziget Festival? Here is my Ultimate Guide.


4) Taking in the Scenery by Train

I’ve obviously been on trains before but the gruelling 3 and half hour journey from university to home did not exactly sell me on the idea of sitting on an 8 hour journeys around Europe. Budget won out though and I boarded my first train between Prague and Budapest. As usual, I was wrong. I don’t know whether England is ugly or I’m just so used to the view that it goes straight over my head, but the scenery on the journey was beautiful. We got to see so many things that you’d never see by car or plane and the cabins were comfortable and private enough. I’d definitely recommend booking in advance though as I assume getting a seat drastically improves the journey.


Hope everyone had a great holiday season and a happy new year! What were your favourite travel firsts of 2016? And what are your plans for 2017? Let me know below!

Katie x