I have always been vocal about growing up in numerous cities. There’s never an easy answer, when someone asks where are you from, because they seem puzzled when they hear my accent. I’m assuming they are expecting a some what Indian/Asian accent except they hear a mixed accent and aren’t really sure where I’m from. One of the most common responses I get is, “Are you from America?” and my response obviously is “nope, I’m not”. This is where the previously mentioned question comes in, i.e. where am I from then? And this is where I get confused; do I give them the short answer or the long answer? I usually begin with the short answer, i.e. Auckland, however after multiple counter questions I usually end up giving the long version of the answer any way. Alright, now that we have this rather short anecdote out of the way, let me give you an insight into what you can get up to in Auckland. Whilst it may be home for me, it most likely is a tourist destination for you.
Auckland is the biggest city in New Zealand. No it is not the capital, but given it’s hustle and bustle, it can often be mistaken for the capital city of New Zealand. Since we have mentioned capital city, in case you’d like to know, the capital city of New Zealand is Wellington. Auckland is quite a popular port of entry. There are multiple flights arriving into Auckland from multiple international destinations and there’s always popular cruises docking in Auckland’s port. In fact if you want to visit cities north/south of Auckland, the best way for you to get there would be to arrive into Auckland.
As I’ve never really been a tourist in this city per se, I cannot confidently recommend the perfect duration of stay. You will absolutely need to rent a car to get around Auckland (in fact anywhere in New Zealand really). As a tourist, I would assume that you would prefer to stay in a hotel and most hotels are located in and around Auckland CBD. However with more popular up and coming options such as Air BnB and more local options such as Bachcare, Holiday Homes etc. When locals go travelling within the country, we usually use these options rather than staying at a hotel.
I feel like this upcoming sentence is one that I’ve written in all destination blogs. On a day that is clear and sunny, you should go up the Sky Tower and get a 360degree view of Auckland. For an adult it costs $28 to go up and you can get more information on pricing here. In my opinion, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that you do this. There are various hotspots around Auckland which you should check out any way and you can get amazing views of Auckland from there. It might not be a 360degree view. Hence you may plan to go to these hotspots first and if after that you still want to go up the Sky Tower to experience that, go for it.
Speaking of hotspots, the first one is the Mount Eden Summit. This is hands down such a beautiful place to go to and take in the breath taking views of the Auckland CBD that it offers. There’s also a deep crater here. Similar spots such as this would be One Tree Hill and North Head. Although I do not believe there’s a crater at North Head. Give these hot spots a try first and then decide if you want to go up Sky Tower.
The second best thing to definitely give a try, are the fantastic beaches in Auckland. One of my favourite spots is Mission Bay. This is a man-made beach. Yes really. Some people may refer to it as Mission Bay, The Promenade. This is a rather lively place too. You can have a picnic at the beach and enjoy a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants along the beach! You can also get a marvelous view of Rangitoto, one of Auckland’s dormant volcanoes, that offers daylong treks. Again, the weather has to be good for this as it involves a ferry ride and well the trek going up and coming back is going to take you a total of 8 hours. The other thing you need to ensure if you are planning on this activity is to be well packed for it. Once you’re on the ferry, let me rephrase, once you’re at Rangitoto there aren’t any places to purchase food and/or water so make sure you’re carrying ample supplies.
Staying in the vicinity of Mission Bay, there is an aquarium called Kelly Tarltons. Believe it or not, in the 12 and half years that I lived in Auckland, I didn’t once go to this place. I always kept thinking that I’d go as soon as some one came to visit me, that would be a good excuse to visit this place. Visitors came and went, I didn’t end up going. I was always busy with other commitments. Unfortunately there’s really not much that I can say about this place, however it would be worth visiting if you’ve got little kids.
If you are a wine enthusiast, a place of interest would be Waiheke Island. You’ll need to go to the city, where Auckland port is located and get on the ferry to head there. The ferry to Rangitoto Island also docks here. Waiheke Island is a very small island and is a popular place for wine tours. You cannot come to New Zealand and not do a wine tour and then not take a bottle back with you. Speaking of wines, another place to go to would be Brick Bay. Not only is there a sculpture walk here, they also produce their own wines.
If you do happen to venture out to Warkworth, it is worth doing this trail. Just a short drive from this sculpture walk, is the beautiful Snells Beach. This is a smaller beach and from memory there weren't a lot of shops or food places in the vicinity so if you do decide to visit this beach, you either have to go for a quick visit or go prepared for a picnic. The other place you can check out which is about a 20-minute drive from the sculpture trail is Matakana. Every Saturday, a farmers' market takes place here. This farmers' market is a 2-hour drive from Auckland. If you haven't been to a farmers' market before, then I would definitely recommend going to this place, provided you have time on hand.
Auckland Zoo is a fantastic way to spend the day especially with kids. There are various feeding times and numerous activities to participate in here. Again, I personally haven’t been to Auckland Zoo and whatever I’m sharing here is based on responses received from reliable sources. If you’d just like to relax for a short period of time, just a short distance from the Zoo is Western Springs. To put it in simple terms, this is really a large park in Auckland, just like The Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney or Hyde Park in London. Of course I don’t think Western Springs is as big as those parks.
Last but not the least, there is also the Auckland Museum in Parnell that is worth a visit. It gives you a glimpse into New Zealand, its history and more. It’s a smaller museum than Te Papa in Wellington, which is a better museum and that has free entry. However, if you have time on hand and would like to explore then by all means definitely stop by at the Auckland Museum.
Believe it or not, writing a blog about things to do in a city you lived in, is much harder than I anticipated. I’ve tried incorporating as much as possible, but there are possibilities that I may have missed bits and pieces. Please do leave any comments below, if you’d like more information regarding visiting Auckland and I’ll be happy to provide you with answers to the best of my abilities.
Until next time,