Living in Auckland for the last 16 years, I consider myself something of a native but even after sixteen years there is still so much to discover. Here are a few of my favourite places in Auckland:
Waiheke Island and Rangitoto Island
I finally went to Rangitoto last year and climbed to the summit, after seeing its low peak along the skyline from mission bay. It’s a lovely walk and if you get a big enough group going you can get a discount on your ferry tickets over. There are a couple of caves along the track as well and it’s an easy walk you can do in an afternoon. It has little development but good walking tracks and pathways.
Waikheke Island actually has residents on it and is famous for its wineries, little boutiques and quaint island lifestyle. Many people commute on the ferry to the city for work every day. It is pretty developed and you can spend the day doing one of the many bush walks or going wine tasting.
Popular beaches in Auckland within 15 minutes from the city would be Mission Bay, St Heliers and Devonport. There are many restaurants along the waterfront, boats in the harbour, and play areas for the kids if that is what you’re looking for.
Some popular restaurants and bars at Misson Bay include Portofino, Dos Amigos, Belgian Beer Café and Movenpick if you feel like an ice cream and walk along the beach.
But if you want to get out of the city and go back to the basics a bit you could check out Shakespeare Beach, Long Bay beach, Tawhranui Beach and cockle bay. As its namesake suggests, you can also pick cockles at Cockle Bay as the tide goes out although there is a restriction per person which has heavy penalties if violated.
Believe it or not I used to do a bit of tramping back in the day. I never realised until I left New Zealand that ‘tramping’ is a very Kiwi word. You might say hiking or trekking instead. The Waitakere ranges and Hunua ranges are popular places to go tramping in the bush that are easy to get to and quite close to cities. There are walking tracks graded different levels based on difficulty and a few cabins that can be booked in advance if you don’t fancy yourself sleeping in a tent.
I haven’t done the Tongariro Crossing myself but I’ve heard it’s a good place to start if you’ve never been tramping before. My first ever tramp was an easy one along the Waimai Ranges with 6 river crossings each way. We slept on the deck of our cabin overnight as it had been double booked and luckily because it was summer it was a lovely night sleeping under the stars, spotting possums in the dark.
There is a lot of multicultural food options in Auckland as it’s the largest city in New Zealand and the one that most immigrants have chosen to live in. The thing I like about New Zealand is that each suburb has its little hub with shops and cafes that exists quite separately. You can have your local pub/ café/ dairy (that’s kiwi for 7-eleven or corner store).
Some areas that have a lot of eating options generally are Mt Eden Village, Parnell shops, Mission Bay, Ponsonby Road, and of course the city centre. If you’re looking for specific restaurants, some of my favourites are:
- Nice Restaurants: Monsoon Poon, Wildfire, Elliot Stables, Orleans, Mexico
- Cheap food (burgers etc): Velvet burger, White Lady Diner, Sal’s New York Pizza
- Popular but imo overpriced restaurants: Circus Circus
- Bars: Cassette nine, The Occidental Belgian Beer Café, Mexican Café, Ostro, Britomart Country Club, 1885
- Dessert: Milse, Milk Moustache Cookie Bar
With a written history that is only a couple of centuries old, New Zealand has succeed in presenting it extremely well though its embracing of Maori arts and culture. The Auckland Museum (donation entry) has a Wharenui within it which is a Maori Meeting house, where you can sign up for the Maori Cultural performance, and view the wall panel carvings of their ancestors spirits.
As children, we were taught Maori songs, colours and numbers in school and there is a growing emphasis on speaking the Maori language and keeping it alive.
The University of Auckland also contains heritage buildings that have an interesting history as well as the nearby Symonds Street Cemetery, the object of my Year 12 History assignment, which houses the remains of some of Auckland’s founding fathers.
Avondale Market: Fresh Fruit and vegs, carnival games, second hand clothes
Pakuranga Night markets: Food carts, knick knacks
St Heliers Craft Market: Handmade crafts, soaps