Exploring Auckland in unique drive

Rizal Faisal in Auckland, New Zealand

On my trip with fellow Bruneians to Auckland, New Zealand in December 2019, we got to experience the all-new Hyundai Venue, getting behind the wheel through the days there as it made its debut.

The two-day drive experience brought us to many destinations, allowing us to experience the key features of the vehicle across a mix of urban streets and scenic, windy roads. The compact SUV has also been officially launched here in Brunei Darussalam.

The Hyundai Venue drive experience began from Auckland where the car was being launched at Ellerslie Event Centre and Racecourse, and we got into the Venues which were waiting for us in a line-up outside.

The building used for the unveiling is a former stable where race horses were kept and outside sits its racecourse.

We made our way out to Achilles Point to have an elevated view over Auckland Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf.

The writer posing with the Hyundai Venue on Waiheke Island. PHOTOS: RIZAL FAISAL
During the convoy

Traditional Maori carvings honour important historical chiefs at Achilles Point. At the Point also sits a plaque to commemorate the HMS Achilles, her captain, officers and ship’s company for their victorious naval battle fought in the South Atlantic off the River Plate on December 13, 1939.

We then moved on to our next destination, which saw us heading for a short drive down to the Hyundai Marine Sports Centre where the Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 World Championships were ongoing.

The Hyundai Marine Sports Centre is an international marine-based multi-sport facility built on The Landing, Okahu Bay in Auckland. The centre prides itself on being a safe, fully inclusive, marine sport facility that is a vibrant destination for the wider community, and it is home to a number of marine-based sports clubs.

This was where we had lunch, at the centre’s Akarana Eatery, enjoying a spread of fresh seafood prepared in a contemporary way.

Our delegation was to be hosted aboard a VIP chartered boat to experience the Sailing World Championships up close, however, the weather was not permitting – not even for the championships to continue immediately after their lunch-break.

Instead, we made our way back around the central business district (CBD) and enjoyed the waterfront view as we drove along Tamaki Drive into the city. Later on in the CBD, we went up the Sky Tower where visitors outside the building were doing live drops down.

We then headed off the mainland and drove the Venues onboard a ferry ride to Waiheke Island, which has long been a favourite escape for city dwellers and visitors alike.

The terrain on the island was perfect as it offers a mix of sealed and slight gravel roads enabling us to experience the features and benefits of the vehicle, especially its electronic traction assistance.

We were hosted for one night on the island at the Onetangi Beach apartments and dinner at 372 Restaurant. Pictures would best explain the serenity and beauty of Waiheke Island from our apartments.

Adventure lay ahead the following morning. We started our day by driving uphill towards EcoZip Adventures, with spectacular views of the sea on the way up, to have a heart-pumping start.

EcoZip Adventures is an award-winning adventure and eco-tourism destination, offering state-of-the-art flying-fox ziplines with a beautiful eco-immersive forest experience. It is dedicated to nature/adventure lovers of all ages.

We ziplined our way down on a series of flying-fox ziplines, and stepped back in time beneath the cooling canopy of a regenerating rainforest by walking back up through the greeneries with a guided tour of the flora and fauna within. Another magnificent experience of the island’s calm atmosphere was our drive towards Man O’War for lunch, where it is windy and in places has gravel, providing the perfect opportunity to test the Venue’s capabilities.

The Man O’War story begins with a special piece of land rich in history. Located at the eastern end of Waiheke Island, Man O’War is a stunning array of coastal hillsides with high cliffs and pristine beaches forming a ruggedly beautiful coastline.

It was along this coastline that Captain James Cook came to anchor during his first voyage around the islands of New Zealand in 1769. Upon sighting the ancient stands of magnificent Kauri trees ashore, Cook noted in his journals that they would make ideal masts for the Man O’War warships of the Royal Navy. Thus the name Man O’War was bestowed upon the unique island.

Man O’War consists of 150 acres of vines planted in 76 individual hillside blocks, each with a distinct soil profile and micro climate.

Our journey through Auckland ended with a ferry-ride off Waiheke Island and drive back to Hyundai New Zealand’s Headquarters, clocking-in a total distance of 112 kilometres of drive in the Hyundai Venue.

The urban landscapes, stunning scenery and planned activities were not only reflective of the Hyundai Venue’s attributes of trendy, unique and urban, but also reflect all things quintessentially Kiwi.