Taking in the Views of New Zealand - United Hub
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Taking in the views of New Zealand

By The Hub team, July 13, 2016

Selfie of Jack Quinones and his partner on the water

Airport Ops International Planning Manager Jack Quinones has been busy this year preparing for several of our new and seasonal station openings. In addition to playing a key role in the start-up of AKL (Auckland, New Zealand), Jack also helped to open XIY (Xi'an, China) earlier this year and is helping with the HGH (Hangzhou, China) station opening in July. Between flying back and forth for several site visits at AKL in preparation for our first flight on July 1, Jack took some vacation time with his partner, David (a United flight attendant), to learn more about all the island has to offer.

Skyline view of Auckland from on the water

When visiting New Zealand the first thing that comes to mind is how pleasant everything is — from the soothing teal, green and blue colors splashed across spectacular scenery to the friendliness of its people. The North Island of New Zealand has recently become known as the setting for Middle-earth made famous by "The Lord of the Rings" movies. This radiant and beautiful island is home to Auckland, the country's largest city, and its capital, Wellington.

We first stopped in Auckland, which is usually the gateway for many travelers to the country. It is New Zealand's pulsating heart, with trendy restaurants, cafes, art galleries and a multitude of shops. It is truly a beautiful city, set on the northern part of the island. The skyline is dominated by the Sky Tower, a great place to soak in spectacular views of the city and beyond. If you are brave enough, you can walk around its narrow walkway held by a harness. I wasn't.

In addition to its abundance of Victorian architecture, the city also has many beautiful parks and the Auckland Botanic Garden. The Domain is a beautiful park sitting atop a hill overlooking the city and is home to the city's main museum, the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Here we found tons of history dating from the Maori settlements to British colonialism. It is also the primary showcase of the country's participation in World War I.

Rows of vines at the Wild on Waiheke vineyard

Auckland is also the gateway to many of New Zealand's famous vineyards. A quick ferry ride to Waiheke Island from Auckland's Ferry Terminal will transport you to a beautiful spot adorned by gardens, pretty homes and spectacular beaches. A ride around the island by public bus will take you to dozens of small family-owned vineyards. The one we chose to visit was Wild on Waiheke. Here we sampled great wine, beer and local cheese.

View of the city from the Wellington Botanic Garden

A short one-hour flight away to the southern tip of the North Island is Wellington. Although smaller than Auckland, Wellington proudly announces to everyone that it is the capital city of the country. Located on a bay surrounded by mountains, Wellington has spectacular scenery. One of the best lookout points to view the city is from the Wellington Botanic Garden. To get there, take a cable car from Lambton Quay. I chose to walk up to its main entrance on Salamanca Street.

Since it is the capital of the country you should visit Parliament. A modern building known as the "Bee Hive" is its newest attraction. Free guided tours are scheduled throughout the day explaining New Zealand's parliamentary system and its history.

View from the harbor looking at a part of the city

A walk around the harbor is another great way to see the city. Most of the country's seafaring history began here, so many of its landmarks are dotted throughout the harbor walk. The most imposing of all is Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand. Here I saw some of the oldest Maori buildings in existence, a great historical photography gallery and an exhibit on Gallipoli, the infamous World War I battle.

After so much culture, I was ready for beer. Since my arrival, the uber-pleasant people of New Zealand had been telling me to try the many craft beers that exist in the country. To sample some of the best beer in the world, Cuba Street is the place to go. It is teeming with street performers, bars, restaurants, coffee houses and unique shops. It is said that Wellington has more restaurants per capita then New York! At least this is what I heard over and over.

So, on your New Zealand adventure, make sure you hit these two great places. New Zealand is a place where contrasts work well together and in harmony. The old with the new. The past with the present. The Maori culture alongside British and European heritage mixed in with a strong Asian presence. Its love for all things modern, yet respect for the environment. And everything seems to work pleasantly well.


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