Upon recommendation from our Airbnb host, we took the longer, but more scenic route to Auckland from the Coromandel. This meant driving along the coastal track rather than along large, boring highways. There was even the possibility of a spot of whale-watching!
Unfortunately, no whales made an appearance for us this time. The route however was well worth the extra time – the views were beautiful and the roads were so quiet and peaceful. We’ll always take the longer, more scenic route given the option. You just never know what you might stumble upon!
Views of the Auckland Skyline
For an almost unspoilt view of the Auckland city skyline, make sure you pop down to Cyril Basset VC Lookout. It’s within a fairly unassuming little residential area, but it offers great views, with little in the way of crowds. If you’ve got some time on your hands, there’s even a bench to sit and take in the sights, and breathe in the fresh coastal air.
Mount Eden is a dormant volcano that encompasses the highest point in Auckland. It’s a bit of a steep uphill hike, as private cars are not permitted to drive to the top, but it’s worth it once you get there. Although the volcano itself has long been dormant, you can still see evidence of it, sheltering under the grass.
Standing at 328 metres tall, the Sky Tower can be seen from pretty much any part of the city. From the top, you will be treated to 360 degree panoramic views. If you’re feeling really brave, you can even skydive off the top!
Admissions are $29 per adult, $12 per child, and children under 5 are free.
After spending so long out in the sticks of NZ, it was actually really nice to spend some time in a modern urban metropolis. Auckland has a nice mixture of independent and chain stores, so there’s plenty of good shopping opportunities.
The city feels very new and shiny, with lots of construction still ongoing. It really feels like an exciting and optimistic place to be.
The street performers, buskers, and street art breathe life into this concrete jungle. I particularly loved this amazing mural on the side of one of the buildings – isn’t it gorgeous?
After some people-watching in Albert Park (we heard some beautiful renditions of Shakespeare whilst the drama students were rehearsing!), we headed back to the city centre for lunch. We met up with another lovely YouTube vlogger couple, Someday Maybe, and gorged ourselves on delicious food at Scarecrow. This cafe serves all sorts of tasty meals, hot drinks and cakes. The interior was beautifully rustic and inspired by farmlands – I wanted pretty much everything they had on display! We bought a tasty honey-infused cake to take away and enjoy later whilst we watched the sun set over the beach in Piha.
Oh, and Auckland has a cat cafe – sold!
I found this little area when researching what to do outside of the city centre of Auckland. It was described as a bohemian, independent area filled with unique and colourful stores and bars. The only thing we were left disappointed by was the fact that we got here too early for most of the shops to be open!
The road is literally filled with colourful murals, doorways and buildings, as well as some amazing bars and restaurants. There is even a fairy shop here – my inner 5-year-old self was squealing in delight!
This large indoor food market was lovely and had loads of choice.
How adorable are these fruit and veg stalls crafted from wooden pallets? I’d love to live locally and pop down on afternoons to fill a little basket with fresh goodies from these stalls.
These flowers at the roadside caught my eye too. I was so tempted to buy some to house in our little Airbnb…
Isn’t this little guy so gorgeous? He was just sat patiently for his owner, soaking up the morning rays.
Sadly, Jona wasn’t in the mood for a shopping spree (and our luggage was already at its limit), else we would have spent many hours here admiring the local goodies. Definitely check this place out if you have a little time to spend in and around Auckland.
I admit, I’m a bit of a flora fanatic. Anytime we are anywhere near a botanical garden, or any garden for that matter, I have to check it out. Auckland Botanic Gardens have free entry, and are a lovely way to spend an afternoon.
After a wander around the gardens and having worked up an appetite, we stopped at the onsite cafe for a bite to eat. We couldn’t resist trying one of the Bliss Balls, which were made from all sorts of goodness, and a tasty hot chocolate to wash it down with – yum!
We even made a few friends! I think they were intrigued by the Bliss Ball to be honest, but we went along pretending we were just irresistible to nature.
Lover’s Walk is a walking trail close by to the Botanic Gardens. After those huge hot chocolates, we went on a long stroll to work them off. This was a beautiful walk even in the fairly cold, desolate springtime, so I bet it’s gorgeous in the summer.
Can you believe this is practically in the centre of the city?
Our stay in Auckland was at another lovely little Airbnb. Diorama View is a self-contained unit, built as an extension onto a home on the outskirts of Auckland. The location was perfect in terms of proximity to the city, but also to nearby beaches and walks.
And this is the view from the back garden. Now who wouldn’t want to sit out in the evening with a cool drink and that beautiful backdrop?
The unit had everything we could possibly need, including a huge jet spa bath, a comfy living room, and a fully stocked kitchen. The garden was the absolute highlight though, just look at all the gorgeous succulents! I was in my element.
Whatipu is a black sand beach, not too far from the better known Piha Beach. We arrived here fairly late in the afternoon, and as with many places we had visited so far, we had the place to ourselves.
Just look at that surrounding landscape. It honestly felt as though civilisation and the city was a million miles away.
Having never really seen a black sand beach before, I have to admit, it was quite a surreal experience! I really liked it. It felt like we were on another planet experiencing a whole new landscape. I bet it gets super hot in the summer though..!
We spent a bit of time exploring various mini rock pools and dipping in and out of the crevices in the rocks. Essentially the beach was one huge adventure playground!
Piha is predominantly a surfer beach thanks to the aggressive waves that crash into its shores. We didn’t see any surfers on our visit, although we did meet some gorgeous friendly dogs! I could definitely imagine bringing a dog down here for a sunset stroll along the sand.
There were some lovely rock pools at Piha, we even spotted some starfish in amongst the mussels and barnacles!
Oh, and we enjoyed our honey cake whilst watching the sun set and the waves gently washing into the shore… Bliss.
Phew, that was one long post, well done for sticking it out! If you’ve still got some time, have a look at our vlog of the few days in Auckland.
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