Auckland - Further Afield
Well placed for exploring New Zealand’s kaleidoscopic landscapes, Auckland is a good base for getting out and soaking up the ‘land of the long white cloud’. The city isn’t called the ‘city of sails’ for nothing: Auckland is situated on a narrow isthmus of land straddling the Waitemata Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf. You can take a skippered yacht trip out into the harbour for a memorable cityscape, complete with freshly landed lunch!
Just 30 minutes from the city by ferry, is a smashing region of sunny beaches (with excellent surf) and fabulous wineries. There’s a great selection of restaurants here, too, serving simple suppers teamed with the nation’s favourite tipple - flinty and refreshing Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
The Waitakere Ranges are one of New Zealand's finest natural landscapes, a mere 30 minutes’ drive west of the city. The ranges and coastline offer up any amount of hiking, biking and surfing opportunities for the active.
Head to the native scrubland of Bradley’s head, where you’ll find picture-perfect beaches, home to the intriguing Eastern Water Dragons, a large, harmless lizard, most often to be found lazing in the sun!
The 65 islands of Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf are home to the excellent wildlife sanctuary at Tiritiri Matangi, peaceful anchorages for diving enthusiasts, and, at the peak of the Rangitoto volcano, stunning views across North Island.
Rotorua's bubbling thermal pools, its bracing outdoor sports, Maori heritage and healing spas make this region one of North Island’s chief tourist destinations - it’s a three hour drive from Auckland. But if you have the time, it’s well worth an overnight stay.
The Bay of Islands
The stunning marine park of The Bay of Islands, about 200 kms from Auckland, is a day trip away, but well worth it if you want to sample the North Island’s premier fishing, sailing and hiking regions. Or simply soak in the area’s undisputed beauty. The region is home to myriad bays, islands, verdant hills and sleepy villages (preserving a rich Maori culture): and, off shore, an abundance of marine life, including whales, penguins, dolphins and barracuda.