Home to over 30 percent of the country’s population, Auckland is one of the most active and exciting places on the North Island of New Zealand. Although discovered by Europeans in 1642, the area has flourished under indigenous Maori culture for centuries. Today, with a mix of Polynesian traditions and international flair, Auckland is a prime destination for those who love outdoor beauty and exciting attractions.
After you first arrive, get familiar with your surroundings by taking a Tamaki Hikoi Guided Walk. Choose between two tours, both of which offer picturesque sites and loads of historical information. On the Hikoi Tahi tour, for example, you’ll embark on a three-hour journey, starting from Maungawhau (Mt. Eden) and continuing through countless Maori landmarks and sacred grounds. The tour ends with a modern twist, leading visitors throughout the centre of Auckland and ending at beautiful Waitemata Harbour. After the adventure, you’ll be ready to tackle any area of the island with more know-how.
You might be exhausted after such an exploration; fortunately, Auckland is filled with a bevy of luxury accommodations. From the guest cottages of Connells Bay (www.connellsbay.co.nz) to the historic elegance of the Heritage Hotel (www.heritagehotels.co.nz), northern New Zealand wants you to relax in luxury. If you’re looking to really escape, island-hop over to Waiheke Island, a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland. There, Owhanake Bay Estate is ready and waiting; they’ll pick you up from the Matiatia ferry terminal or help you land on their helipad if you’ve decided to take air transportation. Suites feature easy access to spa pools and hot tubs, as well as private decks with breathtaking ocean views. Even better, Owhanake Bay Estate is located on a working boutique vineyard, so their wine list will surely win over any connoisseur. For reservations and information about luxury package deals, visit www.owhanake.co.nz.
If you thought views of Paris from the Eiffel Tower or of New York from the Empire State Building were incredible, then prepare to be blown away by Auckland’s SkyWalk attraction. Atop the city’s Sky Tower, the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest building at nearly 630 feet, you’ll get a spectacular view of the area. But here’s the catch – there aren’t any walls, gates or even handrails to enclose you. On the Sky Tower walkway, you’ll be harnessed in and able to walk 360 degrees around the building surrounded only by air with the opportunity to get photos and views that rival any postcard. Couples, groups of friends and even families will love this bonding experience and children as young as 10 are welcome; students get a discount with their ID. For the truly daring, ask about SkyJump, too, at www.skywalk.co.nz.
For most visitors, getting around Auckland is a stress-free experience – English is a widely spoken official language, and both Kiwi (New Zealander) and Maori inhabitants are friendly and hospitable. Environmentally conscious visitors will appreciate Auckland’s great emphasis on natural beauty and sustainability while outdoorsy travelers will especially love the area’s wilderness activities. Check out Remuera Golf Club (www.remueragolfclub.com) and Gulfwind Sailing Academy and Charters (www.gulfwind.co.nz) for afternoon adventures.
December, January and February are the warmest months of the year in Auckland with temperatures averaging in low 20's. Year-round, however, New Zealand is known for moderate rainfall, mild temperatures and plenty of sunshine, so you’re in for a treat regardless of the season.
For more travel info, vacation packages and must-see attractions, visit www.aucklandnz.com.