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Auckland, New Zealand

Travelers Today       By    Katherine Hewitt

Updated: Jan 27, 2015 11:04 AM EST

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New Zealand, a mystical land, down in the "corner" of the world.  Once an unknown, rarely visited country, New Zealand has grown to become one of the most popular destinations.  The bustling cities, the forests and mountains, the diverse natural life, and unique native culture bring people here to explore and experience.  One of the best cities to begin your Kiwi (a common slang term for anything New Zealand related) vacation is Auckland.

At first you may think it is the capital city with its bustling city-center, high profile company buildings, and 1.3 million population, but it is not.  (The quaint city of Wellington further down the North Island is the capital, also very much worth a visit!) The city offers much to do. There are your typical city adventures like fine dinning, shows, and shopping.  But, there are also plenty of outdoor activities for everyone.

For the perfect view of the city and the bay area you can go to the top of Sky Tower, a large needle-like building in the middle of the city.  It is the highest man-made structure in New Zealand.  You can travel up to the top in glass elevators.  For those who are more daring, you can walk around outside on the glass deck or bungee jump off of the tower.  For me I will be staying inside the tower.

Cornwall Park is a favorite for locals. They will spend their afternoons there laying in the grass under the tree or having picnics.  The park is several hundred acres with trails everywhere and many entrances many of which back into residential neighborhoods.  Much of the land is still used as farmland for sheep and cows, as you will notice by the very cute sheep you pass as you walk and run the trails. 

The main attraction is a large hill called One Tree Hill.  And, yes at one time there was one tree at the peak. (It has since died though.)  As the walk up the hill can be vigorous at times, you can drive up to the top.  The view stretches out all across the city below you.  You feel quite powerful looking down at the little town below. 

In the bay in Auckland, there are several islands that are easy to reach by ferry ride.  The ride itself is spectacular, especially if you go on a day that is not cloudy or rainy. 

The first island to stop at is Rangitoto Island.  What is special about this island is that it is a dormant volcano.  The hike up the volcano takes about one hour and is not too difficult.  If you prefer not to go to the top of it, there are guided 4WD road trains that will take you around the island.   There are over 40 varieties of native ferns and trees that live here.  Because the island is protected it has become a nature conservancy in sorts.     

Another great island is Waheke Isalnd.  This island has become very much its own community.  On the island there are several "towns" based around a bay or large beach.  These "towns" have their own restaurants, shops, and grocery stores.  Walk around looking at the cottages large and small.  There are a multitude of beaches to visit as well.  This island is well known for the wine it produces.  Several of the vineyards there, give tours. 

These places only touch on the some of the activities that Auckland has to offer.   There are many day and weekend trips to take as well as opportunities in the city.  Happy exploring!   

See Now: The U.S. had the highest number of Most Wanted properties, dominating the Hotels.com Loved By Guests Awards 2018

Tags
New Zealand, Auckland, One Tree Hill, Cornwall Park, Sky Tower, Waheke Island, volcanoes, Rangitoto Island
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