Auckland in and of itself is regularly voted one of the best lifestyle cities in the world, with the cosmopolitan city centre complemented by great escapes within half an hour of downtown. You can indulge in Auckland's shopping, nightlife and unrivalled cuisine and experience some of the many attractions and adventure activities on offer. Whatever your interests, you'll never be short of things to do in the City of Sails.
If you like me.... wonder why it is called the city of sails, I found out it is because the harbour is often dotted with hundreds of yachts and has more yachts per capita than any other city in the world.
The vibrant central city is nestled between the waters of two harbours - the Manukau and Waitemata - and dotted with extinct volcanic cones. Viaduct Harbour and Princes Wharf are focal points for seaside dining and entertainment. They are also the starting point for explorations of the harbour and Hauraki Gulf islands by boat or ferry. There are more than 800 parks (although we regretably did not visit any of them).
There are also reserves to explore, including the volcanic cones - you can find impressive views from the summits of Mt Eden, One Tree Hill and Rangitoto Island. All give different vantage points in which to view the city. And for many travellers staying in the central city, shopping is always on their agendas.
There are designer streets, boutique villages and malls packed with shops, galleries and great places to eat. Places like exploring Parnell, a boutique suburb with Victorian buildings, gardens, galleries and some of the best restaurants in Auckland.
Nearby is the Auckland Domain, a tranquil park of immaculately manicured gardens, lawns and ponds. At its center is the iconic Auckland Museum. If you continue on to Newmarket for some retail therapy (as the wives like to refer to it as), you can enjoy an array of designer fashion, lifestyle stores, cafes and restaurants.
Just Southwest of Newmarket is the suburb of Mt Eden, where you can climb the extinct volcano Maungawhau for spectacular 360 degree views of the city. Close by in Kingsland is Eden Park, New Zealand's largest stadium, where it's possible to catch a game of rugby or cricket. If you know which either of those are? I would say as an American, the closest we can get to those are perhaps football and baseball.
The best way to see the central city is on foot. You'll find a bustling and cosmopolitan world of clothing and jewellery (sic in USA) stores, souvenir shops and cafes. Head to the boutique areas of High Street and The Chancery for designer clothing and then find a restaurant for lunch. For an active afternoon, head to the waterfront to get out on the water or walk over the Auckland Harbour Bridge for other breathtaking views of the city and harbour.
You may not be able to tell it from this particular picture, but they say that because of the high concentration of people (and cars) in Auckland, that its smog can be as bad as Mexico City and Los Angeles at times. Fortunatly that was not the case when we were there.
Auckland itself is on what is called the North Island because New Zealand itself is really made up of two islands made into one country. It is beautiful and green (well outside of the cities that is). It was one of those... "I want to come back here again someday" kind of places for me.
"When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don't know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in. . ." - D. H. Lawrence