Me and my boyfriend arrived at the 24th of December in Auckland, early in the morning. We did not expect anything, just called our car rental agency and waited for them outside the airport. Due to the winter season in Germany, we were happy to have summer in New Zealand at that point of time. It was a bit cold at 4 AM, maybe around 14 degrees. But with the sun rising, temperatures got up to 19 degrees – we felt very comfortable. The Kiwi driver of the car rental bus picked us up and drove us to our car. She also showed us a short instruction video for driving on the left side oft the road, which is common in New Zealand.
Supermarkets So, it was early in the morning – we had a car, a mobile SIM card and lots of time to discover Auckland. But before we checked out of our hotel, we made a Stop at a supermarket. It was our first visit at a „Countdown“ Supermarket. It is a bit more expensive – if you want to save money, you need to find a Pack’n’Save Supermarket. These are big and they are looking like a building centre so that they can store many items. But Countdown is fine as well. After our long flight from Germany we were so happy to arrive at our hotel – the Quality Hotel Parnell, which we can highly recommend. Our room was quite big, clean and the style was unique. We immediately felt like home. A big plus is the kitchenette, so that we could make our own little breakfast and cook something in the evening.
Shopping After a Shower and an hour of sleep, it was time for shopping. I did some research in advance and we decided to visit the outlet mall „Dress Smart“. They have shops like Esprit, Levis, Nike, Puma, Quicksilver, Reebok, Lacoste, New Balance and Adidas, just to name a few. We also visited some other malls, but this was the best. Plus, there are always some nice offers.
Eating In the evening we were starving. My Travel guide told me that the food alley in Auckland City should be a must. It was really good and cheap, and there are different little food stalls like Thai, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Balinese and so on.
Beaches We decided to visit all the beautiful beaches on December the 25th, because at this worldwide public holiday the city is not as attractive as on other days.
Piha Piha is described as the most beautiful beach and it is also known for a good surf. From Auckland city it is a 50 minutes drive to Piha Beach (40 kilometres). The scenic drive to this beach is amazing, you should plan some stops to take nice pictures. You will also have a good view over the beach from the street, which leads you down at the end. At the beginning of Piha Beach there is a big rock that you can climb on when there is low tide. You can do this or just sit at the beach and watch the surfers riding big waves, go for a walk along the long beach or drive to the end oft he beach and walk a stunning track. I can just recommend to do this walk because the views from there are amazing! Here are the directions: When you park at the end (north) of Piha Beach, walk to the end of the beach. The entrance of the track is a bit hidden, but it is right in the corner. Just follow the path up the rock. After 15 minutes there will be a sign for the lookout point, there you have to turn left. From there it is just another 5 minutes to walk up and there you are – on top of the rock. This view is priceless and I am glad we did not miss this. It is not even very hard to get up there, plus the walking time is quiet short for this view.
Karekare Karekare is also a beautiful black sand beach – and just a short drive from Piha Beach. You can walk along the beach and relax or visit the nearby waterfall, the Karekare Waterfall. It is just a five minute walk away from the main beach arrival area, and it is stunning. You can also swim there if you want. It is a great place to take nice pictures as well.
Bethells Beach Bethells Beach is smaller than the others, but also very beautiful. It is also not far from Piha, but you have to drive the road back and take another street. But it is doable, you can do these three beaches in one day. If you want to have some romantic moments, then stay till the sun sets – these are the best places around Auckland to watch it.
Want to have a picnic? Auckland's metropolitan area sits on top of a volcanic field that includes 48 cones. Most of the volcanoes are extinct, but the area itself is considered dormant. You will always see a top of a volcanic hill when you are in Auckland. Two of the most visited ones are Mount Eden (Maungawhau) and One Tree Hill (Maungakiekie).
Maungawhau (Mount Eden) Maungawhau is 196 metres high and it definitely is the highest natural point in Auckland. Around 10 minutes south of the city centre, a climb up to the summit is a must-do – your reward will be a panoramic 360-degree view over the city of Auckland and the beautiful harbour. Here are some facts: The volcano has an oval base, caused by three in-line craters. The lava flows covered 5.6 square kilometres and its bubble contained enough lava to fill – unbelievable – 32000 Olympic swimming pools. Thats what the Internet tells us. Up on the hill there are some banks to sit on. My advise is to park your car at the entrance of the hill, walk about 15 minutes up and do not forget a basket filled with delicious things for a nice picknic in the sun up there. You should also visit the city quarter Ponsonby. Here you will find so many beautiful little houses and you have a good view over the harbour. And sometimes it is the best to just get lost and drive through the city – this way you get the chance to get off the beaten paths. Another advice is to buy a travel guide which is different to others. My sister made this gift to me. It is an interactive travel guide, you can draw the view of special moments in there, leave a mark of your favourite drink in there or draw your name in a city map and walk through the city like that. This was a great way to discover Auckland different. I wish you also fall in love with this beautiful, natural city. Happy travels, Anne