Win a trip to Australia / New Zealand - It's battle of the bloggers! [Round 1]Watch
Welcome to battle of the bloggers!
We've teamed up with Topdeck travel to offer you a fantastic competition - win a 14 day Island Suntanner trip in Australia or a 17 day Grand Kiwi trip in New Zealand to give away! An incredible prize!
How it works
Topdeck's travel bloggers have written 10 blogs, about various aspects of Australia / New Zealand. All YOU have to do is vote on where you would rather go, Australia or New Zealand, based on each category...
Check out the blogs below and enter via our form at the bottom. It's that simple!
We'll be posting the blogs (a total of 10) each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. You can enter on as many as you like, so that means the more you enter, the greater the chance of winning!
So for ROUND 1, we have... BEST CITY...
Flying into Sydney is always so exciting for me, I love the way the coast line meets the hustle and bustle of the city in the most picturesque way. Also the aerial view you experience from the plane is quite extraordinary.
The moment I landed in Sydney and I did not want to waste a single moment, although the city welcomed me with thundering rains it did not in any way slow down the frenetic pace of this cosmopolitan city. It had been years since I had last been here, so I was stoked to be heading back after so long. Now a little older and wiser I was ready to fully appreciate and explore the grand city.
First thing was first, I was off to explore the city’s famous bridge and opera house! Sydney Harbour Bridge is a true city icon to say the least, magnificently built it stands still against the moving currents of Sydney’s Circular Quay waters surrounded by transport ferries, boats and gigantic buildings it demands your attention. But wait a minute it gets better, whilst still in awe of the bridge your attention is diverted to another beautiful monument; the one and only, Sydney Opera House. Both stand perfectly adjacent to one another, the industrial-looking bridge Vs. the striking architecture of the Sydney Opera House. Its pearl textured roof is simply beautiful and if buildings can be elegant, this one takes the cake.
Apart from Sydney’s initial flashy charm, I was immediately impressed by its fantastic public transport, so incredibly efficient and easy to understand it made getting around so much easier! Next up I felt it was time to explore a one of Sydney’s best public galleries; the White Rabbit Art Gallery. This amazing gallery is made up of four levels of a mixture of post-modern and contemporary arts forms. I absolutely loved it, it was tricky to find but made it more fun and ensured I was really exploring Sydney.
Whilst getting around and exploring it was all about Sydney street performers, I was constantly getting distracted by the quirky performances and things to see. Sydney is more than just another big city, its galleries, restaurants and its luxurious architecture as well as its booming nightlife are what make it so incredibly appealing!
There are many cities around the world that can gloat for being by the sea, but only Auckland can boast for having two harbours. Known as the ‘City of Sails’, Auckland is a sailing mecca. But it’s not just the lure of the ocean that attracts thousands of travellers every year. Oh no. It’s much, much more.
During my time on the North Island, I passed through Auckland three times, so I got to know New Zealand’s largest city pretty well. Yes, there are a plentiful of boats, but there’s also a stunning harbour area, a sizeable craft beer scene and restaurants that could give the best names in London a run for their money.
If like me you’re travelling on a budget then fear not, Auckland can happily cater for you with a variety of cuisine choices. In fact the first time I was in Auckland I read an article that the local burger scene had become very competitive over the last few years, so I had to check it out for myself. I went to Velvet Burger on Fort Street and got myself a Hottie. I’ll hold my hands up and say it’s one of the best burgers I’ve eaten. Not bad for $10 (£5.50).
Most travellers who come to New Zealand will land into Auckland. From Auckland you can join a tour, rent a car or campervan, or fly to Wellington and the South Island. I took the airport bus into town, and no more than 5 minutes into the journey did I notice a sign for ‘Villa Maria winery’ - my favourite sauvignon blanc to drink at home. Head to the cellar door for a free tasting, it’s not a bad way to start your time in Auckland.
As well as wineries, I was also impressed by the number of bars offering craft beer. On my first day in Auckland I went to Tyler Street Garage for lunch. Rooftop bar, blue sky, views of the ocean, local and international craft beers and some mini burger sliders. Wonderful. Other bars to try are Andrew Andrew (complete with old Streetfigher 2 arcade machine), Fort Street Union and Brew on Quay.
Queen Street is Auckland’s hub of activity, with shops, bars and restaurants lining the road. I’m not a big shopper when I’m travelling, but you’ll be able to find anything you’re looking for on the mile stretch from Upper Queen Street down to the Britomart precinct near the Waitemata harbour. In the centre of Queen Street you’ll find the Sky Tower, the iconic building that covers 95% of Auckland postcards. On my last trip through Auckland, I took the lift to the observation levels and was greeted with the best views of the city.
There’s also the 192m Skyjump for any adrenaline seekers (it also gives tourists in the tower a fun few minutes watching as they nibble on some crisps). There’s also a revolving restaurant below the observation decks for those looking to get dizzy over dinner.
As well as sailing, Auckland is also a haven for those who enjoy fishing. During my second stay in Auckland I headed to north of the main harbour and watched the locals cast their lines (in between beers) and reel in some snapper and mackerel. You won’t be surprised to find that Auckland has a sizeable fish market, great for picking up fresh fish for lunch or dinner. Walk along the North Wharf on your way back to the city and pick up an ice cream from one of the many cafes that line the waterfront.
Like any great city, it’s also worth venturing outside the main CBD to see some of the other areas and sights Auckland has to offer. Mount Eden has many chic bars and restaurants, as does Ponsonby, and if you have the time, take the 1 hour drive West to Piha. A lovely drive along rainforest lined road, and you approach the little town from the hills, leaving you with a stunning view of the beach and the coastline. Piha also has some of the best surf in New Zealand, and arguably the best point break. So if you fancy an afternoon away from the city, Piha and neighbouring Karekare offer golden sands and a chilled atmosphere.
I wasn’t surprised to find that Auckland is continually ranked in the top 5 ‘Quality of Live’ cities in the world, and it’s a big reason so many Europeans now live there. With close to one in three Auckland residents owning a boat, it’s clear to see why the City of Sails pulls in so many tourists year on year.
As a final test on my last night in Auckland, a friend and I decided to sample the city’s nightlife. Like any big city, there are plenty of bars and clubs to suit everyone, but we wanted something different. We wanted Salsa. Did Auckland come up with the goods? Of course it did. We mingled and danced with locals and foreigners alike, and at 3am, I drank my final Sol and toasted the City of Sails.
The prize must be booked before 30th June 2014 and travelled before 31st October 2014. This prize is valid for one person. No cash value. Not transferable. Not refundable. Subject to availability. Prize winner must travel otherwise the prize is invalid. Must be 18-39 years old to travel with Topdeck. Prize consists of trip only and does not include flights or travel insurance. The decision of the promoter (Topdeck) is final.