By Jade Johnston
5 Things To Do In Auckland
I never expected to live in Auckland. This city was not really on my travel radar when I was planning my trip around New Zealand. But then again, life doesn’t really care about even our best laid plans, and I ended up spending several months living and working in Auckland. Here are my top 5 things to do in Auckland – a list compiled by a tourist living in New Zealand’s largest city.
1) Islands in Auckland harbour
The best part of Auckland is getting out of Auckland, and the relative ease of doing so. Within Auckland harbour there are several very different and very interesting islands, all a short ferry trip from the CBD (central business district). Waiheke island is a great break away from the big city. A relaxing island with a Mediterranean climate – fantastic beaches and fabulous wineries…. whats not to love?
For the more adventurous there is also Rangitoto island. This island is the youngest in the harbour, and was formed by a spectacular volcanic eruption just 700 years ago. With no inhabitants on the island – it is a great place to come for a hike, and for great views of downtown Auckland.
Other great island getaways include the bird sanctuary island of Tiritiri Matangi Island or the larger Great Barrier Island.
2) Waitakere ranges
Sometimes, after spending some time in a city of around 2 million people, one just needs a little “nature” time. Luckily, just outside the city, there is actually a whole rain forest to explore. The waitakere ranges offer loads of hiking options and fresh rain forest air to invigorate even the most hardened city slicker.
Auckland is blessed with great beaches. There are amazing beaches within the city limits, as well as great beaches easily accessible by car just outside the city. Mission bay is a great place to spend a lazy afternoon in the city, and for those wanting to get a little further away from it all can head off to Piha or Murawai. Both Murawai and Piha are legendary for their surfing. And at Murawai there is also an opportunity to view and explore a gannet colony.
New Zealander’s can be down right snotty about the quality of their coffee, and Auckland is definitely no exception. Try the kiwi favourite of “flat white”, a single shot coffee with flat (not so foamy) steamed milk. Relax with a coffee and a cake and people watch in the trendy suburb of Ponsonby, or take a break from a shopping extravaganza in Newmarket.
5) Goat Island Marine Reserve
For some people, a beach get away is just not enough. They want to explore a whole new “planet”. Just an hour north of Auckland is the small town of Leigh, which is home to the Goat Island marine reserve. If you come expecting goats you will probably leave feeling let down, but if you come expecting some amazing snorkelling and scuba diving – then you are certainly in for a treat. Goat Island was were I had my very first scuba diving experience, where I saw giant friendly snapper and a lone eagle ray, among many other brightly coloured fish species. Leigh is also a popular destination for holidaying Aucklanders to rent a “bach” (kiwi for holiday home) and relax in the sun.
Auckland has lots to offer!
As you can see, Auckland offers a lot more than just what can be found within the central downtown area. Those willing to spend a bit more time, and go a bit further afield, will find a wide variety of activities waiting for them. Since most travellers will be either entering or exiting (but probably both) New Zealand from this city – there is no excuse not to explore it!