where not to stay: auckland

Friday, 17 April 2015

Do you like dirty toilets, musty smelling rooms and a bad night's sleep? No? Good. Here's a round-up of some accommodation options in Auckland which I would recommend you avoid for your own sanity.

Ponsonby Backpackers
Now, I'm one of those people who research things meticulously before I book anything - hotels, restaurants, even films at the cinema. So I had done my research, and the majority of the reviews for this place were glowing so I went ahead and booked a private room for myself and my boyfriend for a week when we first arrived in Auckland back in October. Location wise, it's great - Ponsonby is a really cool little suburb and there are lots of independent stores and restaurants to browse. The CBD is a short bus ride away, so we had no qualms there at all. Our room was more like a narrow cupboard, with two bunk beds squeezed in. It was right next to the kitchen, so we were rudely awakened every morning and kept awake in the evening. The whole place had a musty smell which wasn't exactly pleasant, and the toilets were excruciatingly cramped. The saving grace for this place is that the kitchen was always spotlessly clean, and one of the receptionists was somewhat helpful. Would I stay again? Maybe if they demolish the building and start again, I'd consider it. Or at the very least, get some decent air fresheners and deodorize the whole place.

This is the hostel that I researched before we arrived in New Zealand, and I vowed to my boyfriend that we would avoid it. Lo and behold, we ended up being stuck in Auckland for longer than anticipated, and every other hostel was fully booked. Which left us with Base. It's located in Queen Street, so it's right in the hustle and bustle of the main street in the CBD. You might like that, but I didn't like the shady characters hanging around outside - I was actually confronted by a guy who wanted a cigarette as I stood outside and when I refused, he got all up in my face for a good minute. That aside,. there's the issue of noise as there's a "backpackers bar" situated right below the hostel. Again, you might like that if you came here to get drunk off your tits every night, but that wasn't for us. The room was very basic, there was a small fridge but we couldn't use it because the smell was almost gag-inducing. The toilets were pretty disgusting, there was always the distinct smell of urine and the rest of the hostel just felt dirty. Everything was a bit grubby, and I just wanted to drown the place in disinfectant. Luckily, we only ended up here for two nights and as long as you spend 99% of your time away from this place, you'll be alright.

I also just want to point out that I'm not a snob when it comes to accommodation. I know full well that these places are budget accommodation so you don't expect much because they're just that - budget. But the least I expect is some standard of cleanliness and for the facilities to be, you know, useable. I've stayed in several hostels before in the USA, and they were leaps and bounds ahead of these places.


Friday, 5 December 2014

Sometimes it seems that life is all too hectic, and you need to find a little bit of peace to rest your mind from the mental stress of everyday life. Here in New Zealand, it's all too easy to find somewhere beautiful and tranquil where you're the only person for miles. Last week, I ended up with a car full of travelers on our way to Matauri Bay in the Northland. It wasn't hard to find people willing to come with me for a daytime adventure; a quick scout around the hostel and a "hey, want a ride to the beach?" ended up with myself, a French couple, a Swedish guy and a German backpacker on our way to somewhere beautiful. We all spoke different languages, but communication isn't of great importance when we all share a common interest in discovering somewhere new. That's the beauty of traveling and meeting new people, I think.

As we approached the peak of the winding countryside road, the view of the bay presented itself as if it were screaming at you to appreciate it. I almost slowed to a halt as we all gasped in wonder. Continuing down the steep road, sharp corners gave way to even more breathtaking views and we were just itching to get out of the car and try to photograph the landscape to make it look as picture perfect as it did to the naked eye. We arrived at the bay, and we found that we were the only people on the beach except for one lone surfer. The sand was mostly untouched, golden in colour and hot between my toes. Looking out over the ocean, I had to take a moment to appreciate the turquoise water, waves crashing as they broke and eventually lapping at my feet.

Sometimes it's all too easy to become engrossed in your everyday routine, to constantly worry about the present and the future and the past, to meticulously over-think every single thing going on around you, to forget what it's like to have not a single worry in your mind. Take the time to stop, to find somewhere beautiful and forget about everything - even if it's just for an afternoon.

things have changed

Friday, 28 November 2014

View from Sky Tower, Auckland

Whilst this blog was once an outlet for everything beauty related, I seem to have lost the urge to hoard all things materialistic for the meantime. In fact, I'm currently in one of the most beautiful countries in the world and I have nothing to my name but the bag on my back. It's a nice feeling. Gone are the 3 bags of make-up (and 1 bag of hair stuff, body stuff... I could go on) and instead, I'm carrying around 5 items of make-up - essentials. And not the beauty blogger defined essentials, which is normally triple the amount of a normal person's essentials.

I am in New Zealand for a year, working and traveling with my boyfriend. I thought I could put this blog to good use again by using it as an outlet for what I've been up to, and almost a diary of my travel itinerary if you like. I'm afraid there will be little to no product reviews here (unless you're interested in mozzie spray or aloe vera gel?!) but I hope there will be lots of beautiful places to show you and exciting stories to tell.

I've actually already been here for a month. We left London on the 26th October, and arrived in Auckland on the 28th October. I can safely say that this was the first time I have had jet lag, and I would not wish it upon anyone. Standing in a cramped cubicle shower in an Auckland hostel, I had to hold myself up by the walls as the whole cubicle felt like it was moving just like an aeroplane toilet - horrible! We also flew the San Francisco way round, rather than the Asia way and the journey was one of the best flights I have ever had, hands down. I just love plane food, so it helps that the meals we had were actually really lovely.

As I write this, I'm currently in bed at a beautiful lodge in the remote area of the Northland listening to torrential rain battering the tin roof above my head. Strangely enough, I'm rather thankful for the rain as I'm suffering from the worst sunburn I have ever had at the moment. Four days later and it still bloody hurts. I have lots to show and tell you guys, but I'll save Auckland for another post.


MAC Face & Body Foundation

Sunday, 11 May 2014

MAC foundations and I have never really seen eye to eye; I'm still plagued by memories of orange oxidization, cakey-ness and acne eruptions from my teenage years. In all fairness to MAC, that was probably due to the fact that face wipes were my best friend, and I didn't believe in colour-matching. Anyway, I digress. MAC Face & Body foundation has made me do a 180 on my opinion of MAC foundation products. I love this foundation. First of all, the packaging is wonderful - a hygienic bottle form with a nozzle for easily controllable pouring. The shade is perfect for me and best of all, the foundation is totally buildable. It's a really runny liquid consistency, but it thickens as it warms on your skin. One layer provides a super light, fresh coverage - not quite enough for me. Cue layer two, which provides a second skin-like finish. No cakey-ness in sight! I do still need concealer and a little powder on the t-zone to set this off, but I just love this foundation for lazy days where I can fool people into thinking that I'm not wearing any foundation. It's water based and actually wears really well on my oily, sensitive skin.

MAC, we have a winner!

A Tarte Affair

Friday, 9 May 2014

Let's not beat around the bush here, we're all beauty addicts and I admit, the main reason I was so excited to go back to New York was for the American beauty goodies that are seemingly unobtainable over here. There's one word that never fails to make me weak at the knees, and that's Sephora. The brand which was top of my hit list when shopping in the states was Tarte. I'd heard endless praise for this brand, and I'm so glad that I can now share these little beauties with you lot knowing that they're actually now available in the UK, stocked by QVC - hurrah!

Altogether, I picked up three of the Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blushers. Each time I visited Sephora, I just couldn't resist chucking another one in to my shopping basket! I purposely avoided the shimmer-y blush types, as I much prefer a matte blush colour so I opted for Flush, a pale baby pink that's perfect for us pale ladies, Fearless, a suit-all red-toned pink, and Tipsy, the infamous coral orange. Now, although these are pigmented, I do find that I need to swirl my brush quite vigorously to get a good colour pick-up on my brush. I've been using MAC blushes prior to these, and you need to be so light-handed with them, so this took a little getting used to. On the plus side, the lasting power is just incredible. No patchiness or settling into pores, just a lovely pop of colour that lasts all day. The other great thing about the formula is that it isn't chalky or powdery at all, so the colour really does look natural and blends so well with your skin.

You can get your mitts on Tarte products now from QVC! I'm dying to try their full coverage foundation - any other recommendations?


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