Auckland Favorites

We don’t normally get to spend large chunks of time in big cities on the boat, so we tried to maximize every minute in Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city. Our conclusion: we could live there! Auckland is a vibrant cosmopolitan city with a lot to offer, from museums to excursions to food. This post details our Auckland favorites.

About Auckland

I thought it was the capital, but that’s Wellington, at the southern end of the North Island. Instead, Auckland is New Zealand’s most populated city, with nearly 1.7 million people.

Located in the north of the North Island, Auckland is on a narrow isthmus between two large harbors and is known as The City of Sails. With it’s waterfront location, Auckland is home to beautiful beaches, waterfront trails, fish markets, and scores of sailboats. It’s also based around multiple volcanos, great for hiking.

Auckland Harbor
Auckland from the water
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Where to Eat in Whangarei

We spent a couple of months in Whangarei, exploring the area by foot, bike, and campervan. While we were working on our van and enjoying nature, we needed to eat, and thankfully Whangarei has a wide range of restaurants and bars. Based on our attempts to sample everything, here’s where to eat in Whangarei by neighborhood.

Tips for Eating Out in New Zealand

Before you go out to eat in a new country like New Zealand, you want to know the local norms. So, here are some things to know before you eat out in Whangarei and New Zealand in general.

dining times

Restaurants close early in New Zealand. Even in the big city of Auckland, people go out to dinner early. If you leave it until 8PM, your choices for dinner are limited. They don’t wake up as early as French Polynesians, but Kiwis do eat dinner early.

etiquette

I would say it’s about fifty-fifty whether you order at the counter before you sit, or order at your table. Either way, it will usually be obvious when you enter the restaurant, bar or cafe. Regardless of how you order, you will always have to pay at the counter. Sometimes you pay when you order, other times you pay at the end. Don’t expect anyone to bring you a check. Just get up when you’re finished and go to the register to pay. This is consistent with other countries in the South Pacific, but very different from North America and Europe.

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Popular food and drink in new Zealand

Kiwis love their coffee, and coffee culture is evident everywhere. From sit down cafes to coffee trucks, you can get a good espresso-based coffee almost anywhere. We’ve been partial to the flat whites, which is a latte with less foam. It’s going to be difficult adjusting back to our black coffees at sea.

Kiwis also love their pies, but not the fruit pies we’re used to in The States. These pies are savory, like steak and mushroom or mince and cheese. Many cafes sell pies for breakfast and lunch, and most Kiwis have a favorite place for pies, with annual rankings and all. You can even buy pies in the frozen section of the supermarket to heat up at home, which is convenient.

Seafood is abundant here, especially snapper. Everywhere we go, snapper is the fish of the day. It’s either in season or it’s really easy to catch. Or both. We’ve also had amazing mussels and salmon, both of which are much bigger than we’ve seen anywhere else in the world.

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Eating in Tahiti

Updated March 15, 2023

Since we live in Tahiti now (just kidding), we’ve had two months (and counting) to sample the island’s many food and drink options. Read on for my recommendations of where and what to eat, plus a guide to eating in Tahiti.

Tips for Eating in Tahiti

First, keep in mind that French Polynesia is on its own timeline. Everything opens and closes early. Think 6am for breakfast and 11am for lunch. We arrived at a restaurant serving Sunday brunch at 8am and the place was packed. So get there early. The good news is, unlike other parts of French Polynesia, everything doesn’t close at lunchtime.

Sunday is another story! Barely anything is open on Sunday besides church and the beach. If you want to eat out on Sunday, reserve at one of the few open restaurants in advance.

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Top Sights in Villa De Leyva Colombia

An absolutely beautiful town, Villa de Leyva is just a couple hours from Bogota. After enjoying the best of Bogota, make the drive north and spend a few days enjoying the top sights in Villa de Leyva.

Villa de LLeyva region views
Villa de Lleyva region views

About Villa de Leyva

Villa de Leyva is a heritage town in Colombia with cobblestone streets leading to its massive square. With churches and government buildings dating back to the 17th century, the town is a National Monument of Colombia.

A popular weekend destination from Bogota, the top sights in Villa de Leyva draw tourists from outside the country too.

TIP: A top weekend getaway from Bogota, arrive in Villa de Leyva on Sunday or a weekday. You will have the place almost to yourself!

The Plaza Mayor

One of the most majestic town squares we’ve seen is in Villa de Leyva. It’s huge, especially for a small town. The buildings surrounding the square are impressive colonial style buildings dating back a few centuries. The square is a place where locals gather, children play, and everyone relaxes.

The square is home to numerous restaurants, bars, and a couple of breweries. Sometimes musicians play to the patrons of a cafe while everyone nearby can enjoy.

A local musician playing a popular Colombian song which we didn’t know but everyone else did!

We returned a few times to one local brewery where they shared samples and let us wander the square with our craft beers.

Villa de Leyva plaza mayor at dusk
The plaza mayor at dusk
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Things to Do in Pawleys Island SC

We had a whirlwind trip to the U.S. in May, a break from the boat that didn’t really feel like a break because we were so busy! In addition to getting the coveted Covid vaccine, we spent a few weeks catching up with friends, family, and exploring new places. Much of that time was spent where my mom lives and we found a lot of things to do in Pawleys Island SC.

About Pawleys Island

Pawleys Island is a small beach town on a barrier island in the Low Country of South Carolina. Things move slower there, and it’s pretty and peaceful most of the time. Located 70+ miles north of Charleston and 25 miles south of Myrtle Beach, we drove from Florida to visit my mom.

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