Weren’t we lucky!!! We managed to get this trip done and dusted before Corona Virus and international travel bans. While the Corona Virus has certainly put overseas holidays on hold for a while, in many Australian States and Territories there is now a lifting of restrictions for visiting, travel, going out and about and visiting restaurants and cafes. Slowly but surely, the talk further down the track is the Australian and New Zealand Governments are looking at creating a “Travel Bubble” with international travel between the two countries.
We had been to New Zealand before having toured the south island on a 14 day odyssey a few years ago. What a land of contrasts, friendly people, an excellent place to visit, this just wet our appetite to come back again and see more of this magnificent country. In the Land Of The Long White Cloud an overseas sojourn beckoned, it was time to go see the North Island of New Zealand. Basing our adventure in Auckland we set out to see not only to see the regular tourist spots but also to explore some of the lesser known highlights of Auckland and surrounding districts.
This is our Story:
Before departing Australia, the only things that we pre-booked were the airport parking, Virgin Airline flights Brisbane – Auckland & return, and Accommodation. Each day we arranged our touring on spur of the moment ideas. After consulting with the local tourist information centres, we had all the low-down that was needed including plenty of discounts and transport options that the locals were more than happy to tell us about. If you’re staying in Auckland or down along the Harbour area, walking is one of the best ways to get around and that’s what we did, so put on your walking shoes as we set off to explore this region.
Positioned on a peninsular between the Waitemata and Manukau Harbour, Auckland is bustling port city previously rated as one of the most livable cities in the world. It is also the largest city in New Zealand, home to over a third of the country’s total population and is often mistaken for the capital, which is once was in the early to mid-1860’s, but now of course we all know it’s Wellington.
Shopping, art, food, transport, cafes and adventure are all within easy walking distance from Queen Street, Auckland’s CBD main thoroughfare with easy access to Queens Wharf, fine dining and sail boat action of the Viaduct Harbour area, restaurants and café’s of the Wynyard Quarter and all of this just so close. The combination of modern skyscrapers standing alongside beautifully maintained gardens, churches and buildings from an early era, the harbour, the diverse café scene, the shopping and the ease of getting around makes this a place very easy to fall in love with, we did. 💛
One of our favourite places in Auckland is the harbour area and one of the best places to dine are the cafes and restaurants of the Viaduct Harbour. Viaduct harbour is a formal commercial harbour on the Auckland waterfront that has been re-developed into area of modern units and restaurants. A magnet for both locals and tourists alike, this area is always buzzing day and night with an incredible number of people dining indoors or outside on the promenade all enjoying fine local cuisine, beers, and wine.
Open from breakfast till late, with over 30 bars and restaurants to choose from, all in one location this precinct is well catered to take care of any culinary need. Take a stroll along the esplanade and watch the super yachts and boats all berthed at the nearby marina. With cruise ships berthed along side, people of all nations were just meandering past on the promenade, so many restaurants to choose from, and while some were relatively expensive, they were still proving to be extremely popular. A glass of wine watching the world go by, what a great way to relax and spend a few hours.
Perhaps you like things a little more adventurous, book your place and jump aboard one of these fine sailing vessels, get involved on the grinders or take control steering from the helm. As you head out onto the harbour, with the wind in your sails experience your own version of an America’s Cup race or you might prefer to just sit back and let others do the work while you watch all the action and enjoy those stunning harbour views.
Things To Do & See
Besides the harbour, Auckland is home to many landmarks such as the Auckland Art Gallery, Sky Tower, Auckland War Memorial Museum, New Zealand Maritime Museum, Parks & Gardens, Theatres, Restaurants and Cafés.
Ferry, bus or as we did walk, the New Zealand Maritime Museum is in the harbour precinct (Queens Wharf) on the corner of Quay and Hobson Streets at the heart of Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour. New Zealand is one of the most maritime nations in the world with their history shaped through immigration, trade or leisure, the Museum is a centre for all these stories.
We spent hours leisurely strolling over many levels standing in awe at the collections and their stories from the Great Pacific migration of a 1,000 years ago to the cutting edge design technology used in America’s Cup and modern day sail boats. It does not matter if you’re a land lubber who has never set foot on a boat or a seasoned yachtie, allow a few hours in your day to go through this wonderful Museum.
👉 Coffee! Coffee! Coffee! ☕. Auckland has numerous Coffee Shops and Cafes and I must admit some of the best coffee I have ever tasted. Some are standalone little affairs tucked away down lane-ways, while others are on nearly every street corner, you don’t have to travel to far to grab a cup of your favourite brew. An early morning flat white while enjoying the ambience of the local Café scene, just sets up the day for planning our next adventure.
🔥 Tip: Money Saver: Some Australian coffee shops offer rewards in free coffees and discounts on food while you patronise their shops. The Coffee Club is one of these and has many outlets in Australia and as I was to discover also has several places in and around Auckland. Through their VIP Club (you will need to join the VIP Club: Membership: – $25/year), you can save money on your coffee purchases in Australia & New Zealand with their buy one get one free offer. A coffee @ $5 a mug, it won’t take long to recoup your membership $$$.
Reaching over 320 metres high the SKY Tower is one of Auckland’s most visible landmarks, even from a distance you cannot miss this impressive beacon in the city skyline. Situated in Federal Street as a part of Sky City Complex, the Sky Tower is the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand and the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere. With 360 degree views from the observation deck you will have the most glorious views for many happy snaps of the city and beyond and for thrill seekers there are loads of adrenaline pumping experiences.
👉 At the base of the Tower is SkyCity, Auckland’s entertainment and casino complex. Located in Federal Street, with over 20 bars and restaurants, hotel accommodation and gaming of all descriptions, we found a relatively inexpensive place to eat at Andy’s Burgers and Bar.
👉Great food, good service, and a very friendly atmosphere.
👀 Visitor Information: Down the escalators from the ground floor level is the Tourist Visitor Centre –
👀 Sky Tower Ticket Office – Booking desk for your Sky Tower Adventures.
👉Federal Street and the Sky City precinct are a focal point for a variety of transport options for getting to and from the Airport, around Auckland and inter-city transfers. It is also the home to an array of Café’s, restaurants and bars and is an immensely popular meeting place for city dwellers and overseas visitors alike.
An experience like no other, spread over four floors of art and exhibitions is the Auckland Art Gallery. Criss-crossing our way through the Gallery, moving from floor to floor we embarked on a fascinating tour through the arts, stories and history that make this place one of the country’s most iconic buildings. Right in the heart of Auckland City, you’ll be able to experience world class touring exhibitions, traditional and contemporary works as you are immersed in the sights and atmosphere of the largest permanent collection of New Zealand art. Book your spot and join the very friendly and knowledgeable guides on a free tour of this captivating location.
If you are looking at further exploring outside the bright city lights of Auckland, then you can see all the main attractions and let some-one else do the driving while you just sit back in air conditioned comfort on the Auckland Explorer Bus and enjoy Hop on / Hop off City sightseeing and another 17 Top Attractions.
See all the highlights on the Red or Blue bus tours with a 24 or 48 hour pass, there are also extra discounts available to some of the attractions and all tickets include a free return ferry trip across the harbour to the historic suburb of Devonport. 👉 The Explorer Bus, with a minimum 48 hour pass, is highly recommended way to see the sights as an alternative to other public transport and car rental.
Just across the harbour from the CBD, located north of Auckland is the historic suburb of Devonport. Getting there is simple, it’s only a 10 minute ferry ride with you disembarking at one of the most picturesque quays in this neck of the woods. From here you can decide the best way to tour the highlights of this charming seaside village, however today we are exploring this area by foot.
Along the main street, well preserved buildings accommodate cafes and speciality shops selling all manner of crafts, antiques and collectables. Full of charm and character the town’s heritage has been preserved with streets lined with colonial homes built in the early 1800s with some of the more larger stately homes well positioned along the waterfront. Many hours could be spent roaming the laneways and side-streets looking for that special gift or lunching with a glass of wine and treating yourself to some of the most delicious local cuisine.
From the ferry wharf, the main street leads inwards towards Mt Victoria. Here you’ll find evidence of early Maori and European settlement and links to the mountains military past. Be sure to bring your camera along as the spectacular views from the peak of this dormant volcano of Rangitoto and the Waitemata Harbour are some of the best vistas over Auckland.
Old fashioned style bakeries hidden down little off-street lane-ways also serving a huge array of mouth-watering treats, eat in or take away then head down to the harbour for a picnic with the most stunning seaside scenery as your backdrop.
The Devonport waterfront walk is the perfect way to explore several of Devonport’s iconic attractions. This 45 minute walk along King Edward Parade towards North Head passes Devonport beach along with the Yacht Club and art galleries. This is a perfect way to get a taste of Devonport’s unique history and iconic surroundings with beautiful colonial architecture, including the Boer War Arch memorial, volcanic lava flows and finishing at the Torpedo Bay Naval Museum.
Your final destination is the scenic Torpedo Bay, home to the Torpedo Bay Naval Museum a dedication to the history of the Royal New Zealand Navy. This museum is perfect for the whole family with activities for children and the option of a guided tour from one of the museums experts for adults who are eager to learn a little more.
You have just read an insight into Part 1 of our journey to Auckland and New Zealand’s north island. If you enjoyed this post, there’s a lot more to come and you might also enjoy: To be Continued 🔶🔶🔶🔸🔸🔸
Part 2 – More Bite Size Tips for Exploring Auckland, New Zealand.
The order of the day GO exploring outside the bustling city metropolis, We don’t want to drive ourselves there is so much to see – Part 2 – To be Continued 🔶🔶🔶🔸🔸🔸