New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, is a seamless blend of modern living, culture and coastal scenery. The Lonely Planet identified Auckland as one of the Top 10 Cities in the world for 2014. Striking black sand beaches, native rainforests, beautiful coastlines and tranquil bays will take your breath away as you admire Mother Nature’s glorious handiwork.
One cannot leave Auckland without exploring the islands of the Hauraki Gulf. Climb to the summit of Auckland’s youngest and largest volcano, Rangitoto. Take the guided tour and explore the black lava caves along the way. The adventurous would love night kayaking to the volcano summit; catch the breathtaking sunset from Rangitoto’s peak before paddling back towards illuminated city lights.
Apart from the Rangitoto Islands, Waiheke Island is another must-go destination for travellers. With abundant vineyards and a hundred dazzling white-sand shores, visitors can expect excellent wine sampling and relaxing beach activities. Motuihe Island, too, is ideal for sunbathing, and travellers can book to camp on the island overnight. Bird watching can be done in Tirititi Matangi, a wildlife reserve, and if you are lucky you might spot the endangered Takahe. Follow pathways to the natural hot springs and kauri dams on Great Barrier Island.
Besides appreciating the beauty of the Hauraki Gulf islands, tourists should visit the Sky Tower, the loftiest manmade structure in the country. Enjoy a panoramic 360-degree view of the city from 328 metres high. Adrenaline junkies can try an exhilarating 192-metre SkyJump from the tower.
Stroll along Viaduct Harbour, a stunning oceanfront precinct that gave Auckland its nickname “City of Sails”. Visit the Voyager Maritime Museum to understand New Zealand’s rich nautical history and sail around on a yacht.
Learn more about Maori culture in the Auckland Museum, through haka (Maori war dance) performances and the taonga exhibition of ancestral treasures. The taonga includes ancient Maori weapons, carvings and artefacts passed down through the generations.
To fully experience Auckland’s diverse landscapes, visitors can hire a campervan and plan a road trip to the city’s main destinations. Road signs make navigation simple; getting from place to place is a left-hand drive away. Auckland also has an established public transport system comprising local buses, trains and even ferries. If you prefer other modes of transport, there are numerous off-road cycling lanes and pathways for pedestrians. Bike rental shops are scattered around the area, and you may want to do a test-ride before deciding on your pair of wheels.
The fastest and most convenient way to reach Auckland is by air. About 18 international carriers operate direct flights to Auckland from 32 destinations around the world, including Singapore, Malaysia, and more. Even budget airline companies like Jetstar provide low airfares to Auckland. From Auckland Airport, you can rent a car to get around. Alternative forms of transport into Auckland include travelling by rail from Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city. Enjoy breathtaking scenery along the way.
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