Auckland is an awesome place! And I am not just saying that because New Zealand’s biggest city used to be my home when I was 16.
The city-wide joke is that Auckland has “four seasons in a day.” And that is often true. So it’s good news that there is something to do for every weather.
Auckland is a melting pot of South Pacific cultures. From Maori to Samoan and Cook Islands, there is always a show or festival going on that is worth checking out. In fact, it has the largest Polynesian population, which leads to its nickname “Capital of Polynesia.”
Some of my favourite cafés could be found along Karangahape Road – and don’t worry if you can’t pronounce that. The locals call it “K’ Road.”
Did you know that Auckland was built on extinct volcanoes? Well, now you do. The most famous ones are Mount Eden (although that is “only” a crater) and One Tree Hill – which is no longer topped by an actual tree but rather by an obelisk.
The Sky Tower is worth a visit, day or night. After all, it is the highest tower in the entire southern hemisphere at 328 metres (that’s 1,076 ft). Sure, you can see all the way to the Waitakere Ranges, overlook Auckland’s CBD with the Waitemata Harbour, Rangitoto Island (that big dormant volcano right opposite the Port of Auckland), Waiheke Island and the Manukau Harbour. Or, if you’re more adventurous, you could either walk on the glass floor of the observation deck, or do the Sky Jump!
Auckland is heaven for outdoorsy types. Wanna hike? How does the rainforest in the Waitakere Ranges sound to you? I lived right at the foot of the Waitakeres and they – including a hidden little scenic outlook called Pukematekeo – are my favourite place within Greater Auckland.
If you’re into surfing or fishing, the black sand beaches of Piha, Muriwai and Bethells (on the other side of the Waitakere Ranges) are your best bet. You should, however, know that these beaches have strong rips and swells and they can be dangerous to swimmers. Safer beaches can be found on the Waitemata Harbour side, like Cheltenham Beach.
You might ask why Auckland is also called The City of Sails. As I mentioned earlier, Auckland is situated between two harbours. There are boats ranging from super-yachts to motor boats and sail boats everywhere, and they all come out to play when the sun is shining and the water is calm. Auckland has also hosted the America’s Cup before, so you know those guys and gals mean business. If you watch them from the shore at Mission Bay, be advised that some of the city’s best ice cream is to be found right along the promenade.
Auckland also has many parks to wander around and get lost in. Many of the city centre ones are within walking distance from main thoroughfare Queen Street, like Victoria Park, Auckland Domain (with the War Memorial and Museum up on the hill) and Albert Park, which is a lovely green space in the middle of the student quarter and adjacent to the University of Auckland.
A picnic with friends in Albert Park, eating burgers we got from another one of Auckland’s institutions – The White Lady burger bus which is usually parked near the intersection of Commerce Street & Fort Street – is one of my fondest memories and, incidentally, a great way to end a day of exploring an amazing city!