Located alongside the scenic island of Rangitoto, the emerald landscapes, striking coastline and thick forests of Motutapu Island attract visitors from across the globe. Sandy beaches and easy walking paths offer up plenty of opportunity for rest and relaxation, while the 300 Maori archeological sites that scatter the land showcase a rich history and detail ancient lives of early inhabitants.
Travelers can explore one of the Island’s popular walking tracks, like the Motutapu Walkway, which connects the causeway to Rangitoto and the Matutapu ferry dock. Several World War II military sites in the northern junction offer history buffs with a look at gun pits, shelters and other fortresses. Outdoor adventurers can overnight at one of the island’s popular campsites and those looking to give back can volunteer at the Motutapu Restoration Trust, where locals and out-of-towners work alongside each other to plant trees, clean up beaches and monitor wildlife.
With a prime location at the heart of central Auckland, Albert Park is the ultimate urban garden, with its pretty flower beds and towering palm trees set against a backdrop of looming skyscrapers and the landmark Auckland Sky Tower. With the Central Business District and Auckland Art Gallery to the west, and the University of Auckland to the east, Albert Park is among the city’s most popular green spaces, and its shady benches and grassy lawns provide ample space for picnickers.
A former military barracks, Albert Park was laid out in the late 19th-century and features a series of flower gardens and walkways around a central Victorian fountain. Notable features include the historic band rotunda; the Albert Park House, now a museum; a series of oak trees planted in honor of the United States Navy's Great White Fleet; and a number of statues and memorials.
Smack in the middle of downtown Auckland just off of bustling Queen Street, Aotea Square is a popular spot for festivals, gatherings, and events. Located just across from the Auckland Town Hall, Aotea Square provides over an acre of open space downtown, and after a massive renovation in 2010, can now accommodate up to 20,000 people for rallies or open-air concerts. Aside from a handful of shade producing trees, the square houses large, public works of art such as statues and Maori sculptures, the most famous being the Waharoa gate that serves as the entrance from Queen Street. In summer, dance under the stars when part of the square is converted into a dance floor, or strap on skates in the middle of winter when an ice rink is built in the square.
The brainchild of the renowned marine archaeologist and diver, Kelly Tarlton's SEA LIFE Aquarium is an aquarium designed to thrill the whole family. It was the first aquarium to use curved-glass viewing containers and a conveyor belt to move people along. There is an exciting array of specimens from tropical marine fish to Antarctic penguins.
Highlights include the gigantic stingrays, turtles and octopus that you will see in the deep water exhibit and the pufferfish and stonefish in the venomous-fish tank.
Jump aboard an Antarctic Snowcat, a vehicle usually only used in Antarctica, and travel through the penguin enclosure where you will see king and gentoo penguins.
If you’re up for some added excitement you can snorkel with the fish or for a real adrenaline rush you can swim with the sharks or stingrays.
New Zealand is known for its crisp whites and bold reds, and there is no better way to sample the flavors of the region than by taking a trip through Kumeu Wine Country. The scenic vineyards of this world-class wine destination are home to quiet cafes, small breweries, five-star restaurants and of course, some of the best wine-makers in the country.
Some of Kumeu’s wineries date back to the early 1930s, and the region’s unique “cellar door” experiences take travelers through the process of winemaking from harvest to fermentation. Visitors love sipping glasses of the region’s finest while looking out over the lush Muriwai Valley. In addition to exploring Kumeu’s world-famous vineyards, travelers to the region can relax at the nearby Muriwai Beach, where rolling dunes and black sand result in one of the most scenic beaches in the area, or hike the well-kept trails of Woodhill and Riverhead pine forests.
Whether you see it, hear it, or smell it first, approaching the bustling Auckland Fish Market is always an exciting experience. Here along Auckland’ famous waterfront, fisherman returning back to the docks come to sell their fresh catch at auction, and diners come to feast on fish that was literally caught that morning. At the popular Auckland Seafood School, learn how to cook and prepare new dishes with a rotating schedule of classes, or simply stroll through the retail market where a dozen restaurants, shops, and grocers sell everything pertaining to fish. There’s sushi served in tight little hand rolls and baskets of fish and chips, and markets selling everything from smoked fish or lobster to wine from Auckland’s best vineyards. Go behind the scenes on a special tour that shows how the fish market functions—from where the fishermen drop off their catch after spending all night at sea, to where local chefs and restaurateurs come to purchase the freshly caught fish.