It’s no secret that New Zealand is a real gem for holiday makers and adventurers. Today, I’d like to show you the city of Auckland in the North of the island.
“The City of Sails”, “Tāmaki of a thousand lovers”, the city itself is as diverse as its nicknames. This is down to its multiculturalism, which enables you to discover something new on every corner and welcomes you with open arms. Take a look at my Auckland tips and get an overview of everything the city has to offer.
Auckland is located on the North Island of New Zealand and is home to a third of the entire population. Thus making it the biggest metropolitan area in the whole country.
The city essentially sits on a total of 50 volcanoes which shape the landscape. But don’t worry, all the volcanoes are inactive.
The Maori, New Zealand’s indigenous people, gave the city the name “Tāmaki of a thousand lovers“. They settled in Auckland in the year 1350 and constructed settlements on the tops of the aforementioned volcanoes.
Due to its location in a protected bay, Auckland is a dream destination, particularly for sailors. It’s no wonder then that the city is known as “City of Sails”!
Auckland is also known for being a cultural mosaic. It would be hard to find another city where so many different cultures are so excellently intertwined. Auckland is made up of many different ethnic groups, 50% European, 23% Asian, 14% Pacific and 11% Maori. No one can complain about a lack of diversity.
According to a study, Auckland also has the third highest quality of life in the world. To the explorers and emigrants among you: what are you waiting for?
First impression: arriving in Auckland
Depending on where you start from, a flight to New Zealand can take a good 30 hours. For this reason, the famous jet lag is pretty much guaranteed. Despite this, I’m sure many of you won’t want to waste your precious and often numbered days recovering in your hotel room. Therefore, I’ve found a few excursion destinations in and around Auckland which aren’t all that demanding and will give you a great first impression of the city.
The City Circuit Bus runs every 10 minutes between 8 am and 6 pm from the heart of Auckland and takes you in a clockwise direction through the vibrant city centre. And the best thing is that this city tour is completely free. If you’ve hired a rental car or you fancy going on a ferry crossing (costs around $10), I would recommend taking a trip to the former fishing village of Devonport.
I hope you’ve got your bathing things packed as here you’ll find some of the most popular beaches in Auckland. The special thing about this place is that instead of relaxing on white sand, you’ll actually be relaxing on black sand! If you don’t fancy a long car journey just after arriving then you can also find some quiet spots in Auckland. There are numerous beautiful parks where you can just put your feet up and relax.
In Cornwall Park, you get to enjoy the “cultural mosaic”. In the park inspired by British influence, you can picnic on vast luscious grass fields surrounded by nature and in the good company of the grazing sheep.
Sightseeing in Auckland
This city is unbelievably diverse. It’s definitely worth taking the time to stroll through the city and discover the many different attractions.
I obviously can’t leave out sightseeing from my list of Auckland tips! What makes the so-called Sky Tower so special, you may already know from the CN Tower in Toronto. Those that aren’t afraid of heights can go up 182 metres and walk over the glass floor. You can also go up 220 metres and access the open air viewing platform. For the courageous, adrenaline junkies among you, the Sky Tower has another surprise up its sleeve. If you’re looking for a really special kick, then the Skyjump is perfect. With a programme-controlled wire, plummet towards the ground at 85 km/h.
I mentioned the volcanoes that Auckland is enthroned upon at the very beginning. Mount Eden is probably the most beautiful natural elevation in Auckland and it’s definitely worth making the gentle hike to the top. On the south side of the green giant, you’ll find the so-called terraces, green slopes that, as the name suggests, look like terraces or balconies. At the top of Mount Eden, there’s another highlight waiting for you: a 50 metre deep, grass covered crater. Be careful not to slip down it, or else you’ll have a difficult climb back up. From the top, you’ve got a spectacular view of Auckland and its surroundings. The views are especially beautiful if you get here in the evening, at dawn that is. History and culture fans listen up, I’ve also got a good tip for you.
Auckland Memorial Museum
Contrary to what you might think, the Auckland War Memorial Museum isn’t just limited to the history of warfare in New Zealand. It also shows interesting and unique finds from the Maori time. So that you can almost feel like a real Maori, visit the so-called Hotunui, a traditional meeting house. The museum also shows important pieces of art, exhibits natural history collections and is also the central war memorial of Auckland.
Excursions to Auckland’s surroundings
Auckland’s beautiful nature and its prominent location invite you to go on excursions to the surrounding areas. The island off the coast is particularly ideal for a day trip. On Rangitoto Island, you’ll find a real relaxation paradise. It’s situated not too far from Auckland and rose from the sea 600 years ago, making it Auckland’s youngest volcano.
The manageable but extensive hiking trails invite you to properly get to know the plant and animal life. Whilst you’re there, you should check out the lava tunnels and caves, they’re one of the real highlights on the island. Wander up to the top of the volcano and from there you’ve got a breathtaking 360° view of Auckland and its surroundings. The island is also a paradise for swimmers and divers. However, bear in mind that the beaches aren’t supervised and if you’re diving, a clearly visible dive flag has to be used. Safety first!
Part-time ornithologists and those who haven’t had enough plant and animal life should go on a day trip to Tiritiri Matangi Island. For many years. the island consisted of just grassy areas. However, in 1984 a project began which saw thousands of native trees being replanted thus making the island a habitat once again for rare and endangered bird species. Today, the island is a freely accessible conservation area. A ferry crossing to the island isn’t cheap, however, the funds are used for the upkeep of the conservation area.
Beaches near Auckland
Are you one of those people who simply can’t do without a beach on holiday? Well, you’re in luck as I’ve found a few great beaches near Auckland for you! As New Zealand is famous for its black beaches, you should make your way to Piha Beach.
The black sand clings to jagged rocks and small forests. Its location, great waves and ideal wind conditions make it an absolute hotspot for surfers. The beach is also a paradise for walkers, especially when they come across waterfalls in the neighbouring forests. If you’d rather stroll along a white beach and bury your toes in the fine sand, I’ve got a few tips for you:
Orewa Beach is located just 20 minutes north of the Auckland Harbour bridge. This beach is particularly appealing to families with children as safe swimming is guaranteed here and there are many watersport activities available. The early birds among you shouldn’t miss out on the spectacular sunrise on this beach. If you like azure blue water, fine sandy beaches and can do without comforts such as bars, restaurants and rental stations, then Omaha beach is perfect for you.
Your trip to New Zealand
So, what do you reckon holiday makers? Have my Auckland tips convinced you that a 24-hour journey to the north of New Zealand is worth it? Believe me, it’s definitely worth it! You’ll realise this when you’re stood on top of a volcano and you can look out across Auckland, or when you’re walking along vast, black beaches. If you choose to fly with Qatar Airways, even the journey that lasts hours is a truly special experience, and I can say that from my own personal experience.