No need for the guidebook, go local

Get to know the City of Sails, Auckland, like a local does. Read on for insider city tips and a look at the wonders of Auckland’s surrounding areas.

When visiting New Zealand, or any country for that matter – people don’t want to spend their entire time ticking the boxes and being part of the masses on the tourist trail.

Instead it is always nice to go home after visiting a destination knowing that you veered off the beaten track a bit and experienced places where locals dwell.

As you discover Auckland, the City of Sails (which has more boats per person than anywhere else in the world), you will soon realise there is so much to this city. Auckland is also known as Tamaki Makaurau, which means “the maiden with a hundred lovers”.

Auckland was a place that was fought over for its rich productive soil, forests and an abundance of seafood in the nearby waters. To find out more about this simply pop into the Auckland Museum or local iwi (Maori tribe representatives) run guided tours.

New Zealanders take great pride in their food and wine. In Auckland it is easy to devour the sprawl of fabulous places to wine and dine.

But also Kiwis’ love their coffee and café culture. It is a country where you will find well-known chains but the real gems lie in the authentically run family businesses, with plenty of people gathering out the door as the telltale sign.

You could start your day off by enjoying a coffee or brunch at Bambina on Ponsonby Road. This stylish area with its boutique shops and restaurants is a great place to stroll and absorb the vibe of the morning cruisers.

If you are in Auckland on a Saturday, make sure you get down to the Parnell French markets, for a European take on a worldwide institution. Then you could either choose to visit the delightful area of Grey Lynn and pop into Malt or The Gypsy Tea Rooms for a piece of lollicake after a look down the main street.

Or walk around the Viaduct to take in all the sailboats and settle in for some fresh fish and crisp New Zealand wine over lunchtime at Soul.

Top off your day at Tanuki’s Cave on Upper Queen Street where you can get an awesome Japanese dinner for a reasonable price…the Asian influence in New Zealand has been very welcomed by Kiwi’s!

Auckland is made up of many suburbs, beaches and islands – nothing beats taking the ferry on a summer’s day out to Devonport or Waiheke Island as an extra day excursion.

Waiheke has some exquisite vineyards such as Mudbrick where you can take in a wonderful view of Auckland city in a calm environment. Or how about a walk around the bays?

It is a very Kiwi thing to do, to put on your trainers and go for a brisk walk around the shoreline. Fancy walking from Mission Bay to St Heliers? It will take your breath away, in more ways than one!

If you have a car, there are plenty of short-escapes from the city bustle. Whether you feel like a quick surf on the North Shore or drive to Takapuna Beach and take a dip in the tepid sea.

Grab a bite to eat at the cosy Beach Café and then get going to a well-kept secret spot, to Leigh beach. Here you can watch the sun set at Leigh Sawmill Café and overnight in a locally owned bach.

And finally a trip to the Auckland area would not be complete without exploring the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park – an outdoor enthusiast would not know where to begin!

Places to visit in particular are the Cascades, Karekare, Te Henga/Bethells and Piha. Find your own slice of heaven here with rainforests meeting the shore, majestic cliff faces, and waterfalls, as you weave in and out, dipping up and down taking you to awe-inspiring vistas where you really do feel like you are at the edge of the world.

What bliss!

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