Kia Ora! It is what you will hear from many friendly Kiwi’s (New Zealand citizens) when you arrive in Auckland, New Zealand which is a short plane trip away from Melbourne, or as us locals like to say “crossing over the ditch”. You will be mesmerised by mountainous ranges, crystal blue coastlines, rich history, and fresh local produce. Below is a guide on how to best spend time in Auckland.
Getting your bearings- the first 24 hours
If you are planning on road tripping around New Zealand, Auckland should be your starting point as it is well-positioned between Auckland’s northern beach towns and Maori cultural townships. The CBD is only a short drive away from the airport and is easily accessed with public transport.
Once you have settled into your accommodation, venture out and about to the Auckland War Museum. Many exhibitions encapsulate the Maori history and the spirit of the ANZACs. These exhibitions are interactive and the descriptors are easy to read and understand. Try and get to the museum as early as possible as it does get busy during the afternoon.
After you have visited the museum drive roughly fifteen minutes to “Mt Eden” a volcano that gives you 360-degree views of Auckland. It is only a short walk with a small incline to the top, so make sure to have appropriate footwear before you start the journey. There are plenty of great photo opportunities, but be sure to take a moment to sit down and enjoy the view before you make your way back to the city centre.
Next stop, make your way to Port Auckland. Here you can walk in between the wharf sheds, grab a bit to eat at the many eateries and watch the ferries come to and from Waiheke Island. This area of Auckland also has some great shopping options and is where most people come down an enjoy a beverage during happy hour. If you are wanting to splurge on a fine dining experience, make a reservation at “Enzo” and enjoy a three-course meal as you look over the crystal blue water.
Day two in Auckland
The absolute “must-do bucket list” item when visiting Auckland is to make your way to The Shire of Middle Earth, otherwise known as Hobbiton. Now because this is number one on most people’s bucket list when visiting Auckland you need to book in advance, at any time of the day it will be busy so make sure that you don’t miss out and plan ahead!
Hobbiton is roughly a two-hour drive from Auckland with many tour companies offering transport and tickets. As you start your journey to The Shire, you will travel by bus over rolling green hills whilst you learn about how “The Hobbit” franchise chose this particular farm to build The Shire. Although you are on a bus with approximately 60 people ,as soon as the tour starts you are divided into smaller groups, so you can really take in how beautiful Hobbiton is. The guides ensure to give you the history of the development of Hobbiton and explain where particular scenes took place. You can walk inside some of the houses to see what it's like to be on set and the guides are always there to make sure that you get the perfect photograph. The tour is quite laid back which allows you to take the time to look at each prop and house.
As you get to the end of your tour you are invited to have a glass of beer or cider at the Green Dragon and walk through the area where the Hobbits put on a many a major feast including for Bilbo Baggins birthday. Once you have finished your beverage you are welcome to roam around Hobbiton before hopping back on the bus to the entrance where you can take advantage of the souvenir shop.
That night, make your way back into the city centre followed by the “Sky Tower” where you can check out a full view of Auckland before making your way out for dinner. If you want to splurge on dinner (like what we did) make a reservation in advance at “Orbit 360” where you can continue to take advantage of spectacular views of Auckland without leaving your seat. What makes this restaurant different from the others is the fact that this restaurant revolves around the tower ensuring you can take in all aspects of the Auckland skyline. If you time your booking you will be able to catch the perfect sunset and watch people bungee jumping from the tower whilst you enjoy your meal.
Planning and Organisation tips:
- If planning a road trip and wanting to start in Auckland, you will find cheaper car deals if you book just outside the airport. These companies have shuttle buses to and from the airport and company to ensure that you can pick up your vehicle hassle-free
- Although the city centre is compact, most of the things to do around Auckland do take some time to get to, so make sure when planning your travel adventure you take into account driving time
- If road-tripping from Auckland make sure to take into account that it will generally take longer than what the directions say due to, depending on the time of year, many caravans and windy roads. Try and exercise patients during these times
- As you move away from the city centre there are not a lot of toilets (rest stops) so make sure that when you see one you take advantage of it
- There are heaps of great day trips and activities to do from Auckland, so be sure to do your research and watch this space for more travel inspiration!
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