City Of Sails: Auckland And Its Surrounds

Auckland, New Zealand’s self-proclaimed ‘City of Sails’ is the country’s largest metro area – stretching over 60 hectares. Resting between the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, this urban paradise has something for everyone. Surrounded by native bush, rainforests and an abundance of beaches, Auckland is a playground for both the city savvy and those with an eye for adventure. Volcanoes dot the landscape while island’s – only a short boat ride away – ring the harbour.

Base yourself in the heart of the city to be fully immersed in local culture. For those in need of a boutique bargain, wander up high High St or Vulcan Lane. Take a short cab ride to the suburbs of Parnell or Ponsonby and explore the upmarket galleries, back-alley wine bars, and trendy eateries. Grab a coffee downtown and soak in the sea view from the Viaduct Harbour. Wander along the docks and take the helm of an America’s Cup Yacht as you tack and gybe your way across the Waitemata. If sailing isn’t your thing, relax on the Quickcat as you cruise to nearby Waiheke Island for a gourmet food and wine experience with Ananda Tours.

For the those in need of some exercise, hike the summit of Mt Eden –  Auckland’s highest volcano.Take a take a day to explore; and meander through one of over 800 regional parks boasting deserted beaches, waterfalls and forest walks – located just an hour from the city. Hunua Falls, a 30 metre waterfall tumbling off volcanic rock, is one not to be missed. A five minute easy walk leads you to the lower waterfall lookout and a short 15 minute hike takes you to the upper level.  If relaxing is more your style, find a good book and head out to a deserted beach. Try Orewa – located an hour north of the city – or stay a little closer and head to Cheltenham Beach in Devonport. Make time to ascend the Sky Tower or The Harbour Bridge and spike your adrenaline by bungy jumping off either (or both!).

A day to traverse the west coast is another must do when you’re in this city. Renowned for its rugged and beautiful beaches the West Coast of Auckland can seem a world away –  but in reality it takes just under an hour. Piha is the most well known and popular with surfers, but it’s best to swim withng the flags. If you’re not a keen swimmer Piha is also a great spot for a picnic. Another unique place to visit is the black volcanic sand beach, Bethels. A great walking track crosses the headland to neighbouring O’Neills bay, and there is shallow lagoon before the river hits the sea.

Finish your trip by catching the ferry to Rangitoto Island, Auckland’s youngest volcano. hike through the lava fields and stop to explore the tunnels on your way to the summit. look down the rimmed volcanic crater, and see the world’s largest concentration of Pohutukawas.

To make the most of this city’s delights, stay at least 4 days.

I arrived in NZ from the UK in 2004. My partner and I go to the UK each year to visit friends and family. We always have a stopover on the way there and for 3-4 nights on our way back to NZ. Shannell has been our travel agent on every occasion and she has been perfect with flights, hotel recommendations, tour and pickup arrangements etc. Shannell is great at passing on her clients feedback and there has never been a single hiccup. We have recommended Shannell to all our friends.