Visiting Auckland for the first time

It was a long 6-hour journey to Auckland, but the sprawling city soon filled the view and it felt like a jigsaw as the coach made its way into the CBD. I’ve heard from other people that it’s the suburbs that really make Auckland special. That’s not something I’m going to be able to discover with the time I have in the city, but there are a lot of things to do to keep me occupied.

Getting my bearings

To get started, I took a walk.

As with any big city, the streets can be a maze and while I have a map app on my phone, sometimes its just better to walk. I soon found myself at the harbour and waterfront, with the viaduct area being a particularly nice area – and it looks amazing at night!

Auckland Viaduct at night is absolutely stunning
Auckland Viaduct at night is absolutely stunning

To be honest, lighting up the city makes it look a lot more appealing – even the Skytower is lit up when it’s dark.

Auckland Skytower lit up at night

There are a lot of parks and green spaces to give yourself a break from the towering buildings. It’s normal to feel like things are closing in on you but places like Albert Park can give you a little relief.

Albert Park in Auckland CBD
Albert Park in Auckland CBD

There’s also Aotea Square, which isn’t a park as such but an open space that I can imagine is used for a number of events. These are just a couple of the places I found while walking around – and I’m sure there are a lot more.

Aotea Square at night in Auckland
Aotea Square at night in Auckland

A trek on Rangitoto Island

I’d been given a lot of recommendations of things to do while in Auckland, and the top of my list was a visit to Rangitoto Island. After a refreshing ferry from the harbour, we landed on the island and I set my sights up above; the summit.

Arriving at Rangitoto Island
Arriving at Rangitoto Island

Now, Mt Rangitoto isn’t a tall hill, not compared to some I’ve climbed (ahem, Roy’s Peak, anyone?) so I felt confident about it. That said, it was a sweltering day and I, once again, did not prepare well.

When will I learn not to wear jeans on these trips?

Nevertheless, I followed the trail up. It wasn’t a hard walk, but the ground will trip you up if you’re not careful in places. It wasn’t too steep, mostly a steady incline until the final stretch to the summit, where there are amazing views of the island and Auckland city in the distance.

Volcanic rock borders the path but the higher up you get, the less prominent it is. There’s a nice walk around the summit but beware of wasps. They seem to be everywhere, but they didn’t get in the way much at all.

Before heading back down, I took a detour to the lava caves. These are caves formed in the rock and you’ll need a torch to not trip or hurt yourself. They’re not long, and they can get a bit narrow and low at times, but very cool. It’s a 10-minute detour so don’t miss it.

If you have time, there are lots of other trails to try, and a connecting island! You can also take a dip in the water near the dock, which is a popular choice for many people in the summer. Once again, I was not prepared enough for this.

Looking over the city from Mt Eden

On my last night, I took a walk to Mt Eden, where I’d heard there are some stunning views of the city. I even made it to the top for sunset, and I got my reward with this shot of the city, and Rangitoto Island in the distance.

Stunning view of Auckland CBD as the sun sets from Mt Eden
Stunning view of Auckland CBD as the sun sets from Mt Eden

The boardwalk around the summit offers a glimpse of the city as it stretches on in every direction, and the setting sun bathed it in a new light that totally changed the way it looked and felt.

The climb was easy, as it was an actual road up – but traffic is restricted after a point, and while it was a bit of a walk getting there and back, it was definitely worth it.

With that, it was time to move on up north. It was a shorter visit than planned, but it was easier to keep the original dates and come back after for a bit longer – so that’s what I’ll do!

For now, we head to Whangarei.

Until then.

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