Auckland lies over a narrow isthmus in between the Waitemata and the Manukau Harbors. The so-called “City of Sails” touches both coasts, the eastern Pacific Ocean and the western Tasman Sea. Its location and eco-awarness makes the city a great destination for the green traveler and ecotourism, especially for those water-sports and outdoors fanatics.
Getting around Auckland city
Auckland’s wide green spaces, volcanoes and nearby Islands and beaches makes the city a must see for any green traveler. You can easily get around either by foot or bicycle.
Buses and trains in Auckland are environmentally friendly and also very reliable, going anywhere in the city and nearby surroundings. For more information on transport schedules, maps and itineraries, go to the Britomart Transport Centre.
Auckland’s 49 volcanoes form most of green spaces in the city. Mt. Eden, One Tree Hill and Mt Victoria are beautiful walks to a wonderful overview of the whole city. They are popular spots between locals for a picnic or a romantic scenery under the moon light.
You can also take a ferry to some of the beautiful nearby Hauraki gulf islands. In a bit more than an hour you can get to the open wildlife sanctuary Tiritiri Matangi, managed by the Department of Conservation. Or take the car/passenger Sealink Eco Islander to the remote Great Barrier, a great destination for bush walks, surfing, horse riding, kayaking, fishing, swimming and abseiling. There are natural hot springs and canyon walks, and its coasts are visited by a rich marine fauna, including whales, turtles and manta rays.
Culture and Heritage
If you are looking for pure Pacific culture, arts, food, music concerts and dance, the Pasifika Festival is a must-see. It is annually held in Auckland city at Western Springs Park and it is a great way to get closer to Aotearoa’s Maori heritage as part of .the Pasific Islands culture.
Auckland Museum and its unique collection of Maori Pacific treasures and performances is also a great way to get closer to New Zealand’s culture and heritage. If you are into horticultural attractions, visit the Winter Garden complex on your way to the museum. Both are located at the Domain Park.
Learn about New Zealand’s maritime history and sail around the Waitemata Harbour on board of an heritage vessel at the Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum.
Food, Drink and Shopping
The Kiwi culinary specialties are difficult to define. Thanks to its cosmopolitan population, Auckland offers a multicultural menu:
The International Food Court chain is a good option for the budget traveler with a worldwide choice of food stalls. An affordable, interesting and tasty meal that you can easily find at the main commercial city avenues, like Queen St and Ponsonby St.
If you want to keep yourself eco-friendly and organic, La Cigale French Style Farmers Market is a must-visit. Open every Saturday and Sunday morning until 1.30pm.You can find fresh seasonal fruits, vegetables, bread, hummus, felafel, paella, cheese, honey, chutneys, conserves, freshly made crepes, ciders, spices, olives, herbal teas, organic chocolate and more, all locally grown and produced.
The City Farmer’s Market is held in the heart of the city, in the Britomart Precinct at the bottom of Queen St.. It is a perfect stopover for a delicious and organic breakfast on weekends. Find local stallholders selling only their own produce.
For those that like less traveled trails and like to experience some less touristic realities you should definitely go to the Avondale Park Second Hand Market.
Auckland has a lot to offer and definitely deserves some days on your North Island trip itinerary.