Wild west coast beaches, rainforest, volcanoes, natural landscape, metropolitan delights and a buzzing urban lifestyle – Auckland has the perfect mixture of it all. It is a place where big-city style and stunning beauty go hand-in-hand. As everything is quite close, it is super easy to hop from one activity and adventure to the other. And although Auckland is home to about a third of New Zealand’s population, the city still has a relaxed and easy-going vibe.
How to get there?
You reach auckland by plane (Auckland Airport). But if you are in New Zealand already you can also go by car, bus or train.
Auckland’s landscape is dotted with the cones of about 50 extinct or dormant volcanoes. All within 20 km of the city center – so there is no excuse to not go out and explore them. Our favorite was the Mount Eden, which gives you great views of the city as well. We also really enjoyed exploring and hanging out in Ponsonby – only minutes away from downtown Auckland, this quarter has lots of places to discover. No matter the time of day, or year.
How long to stay?
When visiting Auckland, we also took the chance to visit some friends. In the end we stayed for 4 nights, which left us not only lots of time to catch up with our friends, but also to explore what Auckland has to offer. We would recommend to stay for at least 2 nights so you have time to explore the city and some of the stunning nature surrounding it.
Where to stay?
As already mentioned we ended up staying with some friends in nice and quiet Grey Lynn, which was pretty awesome. But there are plenty nice Airbnb’s available which will also give you the chance to hang out with some locals. Otherwise there are plenty of other options from hotels, to motels and hostels. We would recommend to stay in either Grey Lynn or Ponsonby. You can easily reach the city by foot or bus and still can enjoy some less visited quarters of the city.
Ponsonby When visiting Auckland Central, we quickly felt the urge to explore some other and hopefully less touristy areas of the city as well. With Ponsonby we seem to have found quite an upcoming gem. In fact Ponsonby is one of Auckland’s most popular meeting places, offering a vibrant cafe and restaurant culture which succesfully has been combined with live music venues and neighbourhood bars. Here you can also admire some fine examples of Auckland’s architectural heritage while strolling around boutique art galleries, parks and reserves. And just in case you feel hungry after exploring Ponsonby, try one of our favorite places: Burger Burger (leave some space for the desert burger!), Ponsonby Central (EAT DRINK SHOP – Ponsonby Central brings you a fresh approach to the local food and retail scene. There is almost too much to choose from!) and last but not least Lot 3 (check out the current street food and pop-up restaurants). Wynyard Quarter Opened in 2011, the Wynyard Quarter has been embraced by the public. This buzzing area, with the city center as backdrop, has lots to offer. From markets, to exhibitions or movie nights during summer – there always is something interesting and exciting going on. It is a place where you can live, watch, taste, breathe and experience the essence of Auckland in a completely new way. Make sure to check out Silo Park. It is a free public space that can be enjoyed by both young and old. During summer it hosts more than 50 events, activations and exhibitions. Explore the islands of the Hauraki Gulf The sheltered harbor of Auckland is dotted with emerald islands which you can journey to by ferry. Many of these islands are wildlife sanctuaries and feature beautiful walks. A must-see definitely is Waiheke the ‘island of wine’. And the gulf waters itself are teeming with marine life and the ideal location for a cruise. But you might not want to miss out on these activities as well:
Walk to the summit of Rangitoto, the black lava volcanic island in the middle of the inner Hauraki Gulf. Hire a kayak and join an evening paddle to the island.
Sunbathe and swim at Motuihe Island.
Discover the historic Mansion House on Kawau Island – once the home of Governor George Grey.
Visit the wildlife sanctuary on Tiritiri Matangi. The island is home to many endangered birds, including the extremely rare Takahe.
Experience a wilderness adventure on Great Barrier Island – tracks lead to secluded natural hot springs and historic kauri dams.
Take a walk From Devonport, you can walk to the summits of Mount Victoria or North Head for some pretty nice 360° views. Ferries to and from Devonport depart every half hour. The many volcanoes also are perfect for some walking: Mount Eden, Mount Hobson and Mount St John are dormant volcanic cones which offer nice views of the city. Make sure to pack a picnic, walk up and enjoy the view. The Coast to Coast Walkway also is a good opportunity to take in many of Auckland’s scenic icones while connecting the east and west coast of Auckland. To the west of the city you will also find the beautifully scenic Waitakere Ranges and to the south the Hunua Ranges. Wild West Coast Less than an hour from Auckland city, the rugged, black-sand beaches along the west coast are always worth a visit. Here the Tasman Sea not only meets long, vast beaches, but also rainforests featuring waterfalls. Surfing is very popular here, but only for experienced surfers. The waves are generally big, powerful and ruthless. Visit Muriwai Beach to see the impressive clifftops and gannet colonies or head to Piha, a popular surf beach, and Karekare, made famous as the backdrop for the film The Piano. When visiting Piha and you feel like food or drinks, make sure to visit the local surf club. Buy Greenstone After traveling around New Zealand we felt the urge to buy some greenstone as souvenir. We had a look through many shops, but most of them felt like a bad tourist trap. Luckily we found the Green Stone Factory Shop Kingsland – this small shop has lots to choose from and the prices are very good. Also the staff was very kind and helpful. Auckland Markets With a lot of produce markets across the region, Auckland tops up its foodie scene with some pretty nice markets: City Farmer’s Market (fresh breads, dips, preserves and produce), Grey Lynn Farmer’s Market, La Cigale French Market, Avondale Market (strong Polynesian and Asian influence, great deals in fresh vegetables and fruit), Auckland Fish Market (open seven days, freshest fish and produce as well as evening seafood cooking classes) and the Victoria Park Market. A touch of Hamburg The charming coffee shop MoinMoin Kaffeehaus just opened in the central city when we visited Auckland in March 2017. It might award for Auckland’s smallest coffee shop, but what is most amazing about it is that they offer some typical Hamburg specialities like Franzbroetchen – a croissant-brioche hybrid baked with butter and cinnamon. Feels like home!