I have lived in Auckland for seven years, and yet the biggest city in NZ has not stopped surprising me. The traveller's gaze very often stops - wrongly - at the "CBD", the impersonal hyper Centre with its skyscrapers and tourists. But as soon as we get out of this heart of glass and steel, it is New Zealand that opens its doors to us. From the islands in the bay to the summit of extinct volcanoes to the eastern and Waitakere beaches, the Auckland region offers an inexhaustible playground and discovery.
The first thing I recommend if you have a full day is to take a boat to one of the bay’s islands. The pier is easy to reach by foot, and you can catch one of the many daily ferries to Waiheke Island. Located 40 minutes from the city centre, the island is a fully-fledged district, with its 8,000 permanent residents. Formerly a landmark of baba cools set back from the world; it is now the trendy destination for Aucklanders, who come to relax there on weekends. In addition to magnificent beaches and excellent hiking trails, you will find renowned vineyards where you can taste local wine but also delicate dishes.
Rangitoto Island is only 20 minutes by ferry from the Centre, but when you disembark on the island, the change of scenery is flabbergasting. The ancient volcano, the island is still covered with solidified lava fields, which can be admired along a path leading to the crater. The view of Auckland at the top is memorable. From October to December the pōhutukawa (endemic tree) bloom and colour the trees with beautiful touches of carmine red.
If you are in the mood for a kiwi vibe, take a ferry to the Devonport district, north of the city. You will feel an authentic atmosphere, just 10 minutes from the Centre, between its beautiful Victorian villas, its lively terraces and the locals strolling on the slopes of the extinct volcanoes of Mt Victoria and North Head.
A little further north, you will reach Takapuna, known to all Aucklanders but very few tourists. Its large beach overlooking Rangitoto is delightful, and you will find excellent cafes and restaurants there. A path cut in solidified lava runs along the coast to the north.
If the boat is not your thing, take a taxi or bus to the districts of Ponsonby, Mt Eden or St Heliers. This is where the locals meet over coffee or a good table on weekends. You will certainly feel the positive vibrations of this jovial and welcoming people. In Parnell, you can admire the works of local artists in one of the galleries in the neighborhood.
Finally, if time is minimal, you will still have a pleasant time around the city centre in the Britomart or Vineyard Quarter, where you can have a drink in front of the marina or stroll along the quays.
Unfairly underestimated, Auckland is full of hidden gems and unexpected experiences, once you know where to go. Based in this city, our team has precise knowledge of the region and will be able to guide you at best, whatever your desires.
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