As New Zealand’s largest and most sophisticated city, Auckland promises its visitors a superb vacation. A place that thrums to an urban tempo yet embraces an abundance of natural wonders. Culturally rich and diverse, this exciting Kiwi metropolis comes with a passion for the good life. What adds even more value to this desirable destination are the many brilliant, easy getaways just moments from its beating heart. Greater Auckland is a traveller’s playground offering spectacular coastlines, vineyard-clad islands, quaint villages and so much more, all within a handy radius. Explore the region’s sprawling mix of top hotspots for your next short trip or weekend unwind.
Known as the ‘city of sails’, Auckland’s treasured harbour and neighbouring Hauraki Gulf are among its greatest assets. The holiday experts at Lonely Planet went so far as to call this duo New Zealand’s best experience. The vivid waters of Hauraki’s million-hectare marine reserve are flecked with verdant green isles, offering a multitude of adventures on land and sea. Opportunities to swim, sail, snorkel, dive, jetboat, kayak, hike and fish are numerous. Cruises and tours for seal, penguin, dolphin and whale watching are also popular.
Closest to shore is Rangitoto Island, just a quick ferry ride from the Downtown terminal, or a little longer by kayak. A late bloomer amongst Auckland’s dormant volcanic cones, 600 year-old Rangitoto is a day-tripper’s delight. Hike through lava fields and red-flowering pohutukawa forests, or climb the island’s summit and be rewarded with splendid views back to the city.
Gourmands and tipplers will favour a tasty retreat at Auckland’s ultimate vacation destination, Waiheke Island. Also known as ‘the island of wine’, the largest and most wondrous island in Hauraki’s waters is home to olive groves, cliff-top views, and thirty top-shelf wineries, including award-winning vineyards. Though you’ll feel a world away, a 40-minute ferry will transport you to this island haven. Drive your car on board and explore Waiheke’s white sandy shores at your own pace.
For those interested in New Zealand’s native wildlife, pop next door to scenic Rotoroa Island. This conservation success story is also blessed with beautiful beaches and wonderful walking trails. Located a little further away to the north, tranquil Tiritiri Matangi Island is great for the birds: a refuge for many rare and endangered species. Your fast ferry comes with a wildlife tour of this exceptional open-air nature sanctuary.