Auckland is one of the best cities to live in the world and we were lucky enough to live there for 3 years. There is an incredible amount of things to do and sights to see. We will start with the food – Auckland has anything you can imagine – including the best curry (outside of India) at Paradise Indian in Sandringham. There are fantastic dumplings and other Asian food spots on Dominion Road and the centre of the city is filled with awesome BYO eating spots and bars. You will eat well and you will have a blast doing it!
While in Auckland, Andrew and I were lucky enough to live on Cricket Ave, right opposite Eden Park. If you’ve come up to attend an All Blacks game or a cricket match then this place has so much atmosphere and is close to the suburb of Kingsland which has great restaurants, cafes and bars.
Right near our place in Auckland, is the gorgeous Mt Eden which boasts some of the best views in Auckland. Plus it is a volcanic crater which makes it a unique place to visit. The hike up is not too long and it really is a fantastic place to appreciate the city that you are in.
Most people come to Auckland to check out the main tourist spots, like a trip up the Sky Tower or a visit to the Viaduct at Auckland Harbour. I recommend either skipping these spots or spending very little time at them. Check out my recommendations below for some ideas! However, if you insist on visiting the Sky Tower then splash out and eat at the revolving restaurant for some great views of the city.
Auckland is full of inner city beaches that Andrew and I liked to frequent on warm summer weekday evenings. Places like Mission Bay, Herne Bay and Point Chevalier are great places to burn off that pent up energy and maybe even have a sneaky (illegal) fire dinner on the beach…
The famous Rangitoto Island always dominates landscape shots of Auckland and it is easy to visit on the ferry once you’re here. The hike up the mountain itself is a pretty easy gradual climb and the views are great. On a trip out to this area we decided to hike from Rangitoto Island over to Motutapu Island and camp at Home Bay. The hike is 4.5km one way and takes about an hour and a half – you have to take all your stuff with you though so be prepared to get pretty sweaty in the summer. The DOC campground there is pretty basic and I recommend booking in advance during the summer weekends as it can get pretty popular. Home Bay is a nice and chill place to swim and snorkel and enjoy a campfire with some friends.
The west coast of Auckland is world-renowned as a great place to visit, especially to check out New Zealand’s famous volcanic black sand. Piha is the place to visit and is only about 45 minutes from the centre city. There are some walks to do in the area and is fantastic for surfing if you’re into that, just watch out for rips! While in the area you can also visit the west coast town of Huia. Andrew and I decided to rent some scooters one day and head out there. There is a lovely cafe and some rugged beaches to check out.
On the way out to Piha, a stop in the Waitakere Ranges for a walk is definitely worthwhile. There are hundreds of tracks to explore, depending on how much energy you have, and many a waterfall to gaze at.
Beautiful Waiheke Island is a must do for any wine lovers visiting the region. Its an easy ferry ride right from Auckland central and has some stunning beaches to explore in the summer. There is nothing better than spending a morning at the beach and the afternoon vineyard hopping around the island. This place is truly incredible and I could not recommend it more. There are a lot of accommodation options, have a look at AirBnB for the best deals, however it is pretty expensive so keep that in mind! Regardless, you really get bang for your buck and will have a lot of fun.
A write up on Auckland would not be complete without a quick mention of the North Shore. It really should be its own blog post, however, I haven’t spent enough time over there to do it justice. The North Shore has some fabulous beaches and cafes, I recommend a visit to Takapuna Beach and Long Bay on a nice sunny day. It’s worth the trip alone just to see the Auckland harbour skyline while you drive back to the city over the Harbour Bridge.
Living in Auckland was a real highlight of our lives and I recommend a quick visit when in the country. There are a lot of accommodation options through AirBnB and a few backpacker places in the city centre. It can be a bit expensive when trying to fit in a lot of activities, you’re looking at around NZ$150 to NZ$200 per day.