My fiance and I will be visiting Auckland for a week at the beginning of of January ... any suggestions on where to stay, what to see, etc? I know next to nothing about NZ ... we have a tour planned for the south Island, but for our week in Auckland we've got nothing going on. Any suggestions?
definitely go up North (Northland and Bay of Islands)!!!!
It is beautiful up there, especially in summer, although it is probably busier than usual.
There is heaps to see and do in the Bay of Isl and nice trips from there to go up to Cape Reinga, 90mile beach, Kauri forests etc.
If u don't wanna do too much and relax only, it's also perfect!!!
Auckland itself is a big city and there are a few (touristy) things to do, but I wouldn't spend too much time there, unless u prefer city over beaches and nature. (Things to do in Auckland: Skytower, One Tree Hill, Queens Street and other small side streets for shopping, Auckland Harbour/Bridge, Auckland Museum, Kelly Tarltons Aquarium, New Market Square ...)
Hope I could help a bit
Things to see and do:
- The Coast to Coast Walkway. (You can pick up a free brochure with a detailed map at the visitor centre at the bottom of the sky tower.) Takes you straight from the Waitemata Harbour (which connects to the Pacific Ocean) to the Manukau Harbour (which connects with the Tasman Sea), and thus from the 'east coast' of New Zealand to the 'west coast', and passes through many beautiful places in Auckland. In pure walking time it's probably a three or four hour walk, but experience has taught me that the way to do it is really as a full day stroll with frequent stops to lounge about and admire the views. It visits the lovely green parks of the Auckland Domain, Mt. Eden, and One Tree Hill (which, incidentally, are some of the nicest of the volcanoes that can be seen all over the Auckland region).
- Devonport: a short ferry ride north of the Auckland city center, this is a very nice and slightly quaint suburb, with another pretty volcano to sit on the grass of and lounge upon nearby. (More, there's actually a real secret base inside this volcano! Truly, all the clichés have come true!)
- The neighbourhood Parnell, just to the east of the city center, has some really nice restaurants and cafes (including a chocolate boutique) and general shopping.
- If it's nice and sunny weather, take a bus east toward Otahu Bay (you can walk there as well, but it goes past the industrial harbour area, which just isn't really worth walking past) and just stroll Tamaki Drive along with everyone else. There'll be hundreds of flowering Pohutukawa trees (the New Zealand 'christmas tree'), and some pretty decent beaches as well, especially once you get further east.
- Going up the sky tower around sunset to watch the lights come on all over the city. Paying the premium to go up to the highest viewing level is absolutely worth it.
- I never got around to this myself (something to do the next time I'm over, no doubt), but the very obviously volcanic Rangitoto Island would make a very nice daytrip as well.
And to get a sense of how that all fits together, here's a map of the Auckland area with text labels for those places. *was feeling very helpful*
As for places to stay, the only places I have any experience with that I'd recommend are the two YHA hostels. The YHA Auckland International has very good facilities, but often has a funny smell, and it can get really hot behind the big windows in the kitchen. (Wow, what a kitchen though! Best one I've ever seen.) YHA Auckland City is cozier, but the rooms and bathrooms aren't as nice, and it's at the top of a very steep hill, which you will swiftly tire of having to climb again and again. (I speak from experience, here.)
[ Edit: Edited at Sep 3, 2006 6:47 AM by Sander ]
You can also try blackwater raftnig in Waitomo. If I remember right, it was about an hour-and-a-half's drive from Auckland. The drive is beautiful and the experience was truly unique!
You can also hike in Whangarei and visit Piha beach - absolutely gorgeous.