Make the most of the Trans-Tasman bubble and make Auckland your first flight out of here.
The ‘Trans-Tasman bubble’ has become somewhat of a buzz word, a dangling carrot to intrepid travellers in both Australia and New Zealand. If we’re going to be travelling anywhere outside our borders this year, there’s no doubt our neighbours over the ditch will be seeing us first.
With a holiday to New Zealand so tantalisingly close, there’s one stop on the island nation that you should be shooting straight to the top of your travel list; Auckland. If you need more than just our word for it, here’s all the reasons why you should be making Auckland your first Trans-Tasman bubble stop.
It’s the best spot to bungy
New Zealand is the unofficial home of bungy jumping, and in Auckland you’re spoilt for bungy choice. Take the leap off the Auckland Harbour Bridge, or head into the heart of the city for an unforgettable jump over the side of the iconic Sky Tower.
You can treat yourself to an island escape
So, the islands just out of Auckland aren’t quite the Maldives, but what they lack in dazzling white sands and overwater bungalows they make up for in wineries, volcanos, and epic coastlines.
Right on the city’s doorstep, the sparkling waters and beautiful islands of the Hauraki Gulf are plentiful and easy to explore. Sip your way through island wineries, climb to the summit of a 600-year-old volcano, visit pristine beaches or encounter native wildlife on the conservation islands.
Just a 40-minute ferry ride from downtown, a trip to Waiheke Island is an absolute must-do. Join a wine tour for tastings at some of the island’s 30 boutique wineries, swim at golden-sand beaches, soak up the scenery from the walking trails, or indulge in fine food at an award-winning vineyard restaurant.
Nature-lovers should head to Tiritiri Matangi, a wildlife sanctuary that’s home to many of New Zealand’s rarest native bird species. Alternatively, set out to discover the fascinating history and idyllic scenery of Rotoroa Island, formerly closed to the public for 100 years.
There’s not one, not two, but three wine regions
With no less than three (yes, THREE) wine regions within 70km of the city, Auckland is an oenophile’s playground. Leisurely skipping between the wineries on Waiheke Island, in Matakana, or in Kumeau can take you as little or as much time as you like, though we recommend allowing a full few days to really get to know the best of New Zealand wine.
Visiting Auckland’s wine regions is every bit about the beautiful scenery as it is what’s in your glass. In Waiheke be sure to visit Man O’ War, where the view from the island’s only beachfront cellar door is so good you’ll never want your family-friendly day of food and wine to end. Enjoy the lush grounds while trying your hand at some lawn cricket, petanque, or swing ball, or opt for a relaxing picnic while watching the boats go by – all with a generous serving of their famed syrah or chardonnay in hand, of course.
Competition time: Enter to win 2 x bottles of Man O’ War wine in our Auckland quiz below!
It’s one of the top International Dark Sky Sanctuaries in the world
A ‘dark sky sanctuary’ is every bit as cool as it sounds. The International Dark Sky Association defines a dark sky sanctuary as “public or private land that has an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is protected for its scientific, natural, or educational value, its cultural heritage and/or public enjoyment.” In Auckland, that exceptional star-gazing land is on Great Barrier Island (Aotea) and is classed as one of the 12 International Dark Sky Sanctuaries in the world.
You can only access Great Barrier Island by light plane or ferry, but if you have the time, it is well worth getting out there to view infinity and beyond. Not only is the island a mecca for keen stargazers with its dark skies and absence of light pollution, but it’s a slice of heaven for hikers, mountain bikers, surfers, divers, and anglers – and anyone who wants to escape the real world for a few days too. The protected forest, clean waters, and conservation efforts have allowed wildlife to thrive on the island.
Hiking enthusiasts will have a field day
It’s not often you can tell your friends you’ve walked from one side of a country to the other. Head to Auckland to hit the Coast to Coast Walkway and those bragging rights are all yours.
Traipse from your starting point at Waitemata Harbour in the city centre, through bustling downtown, and inland to Albert Park and the university. The second section of the walk heads through to the 200-acre Auckland Domain and then onto the summit of Maungawhau (Mount Eden). Then it’s on through historic suburbs to the volcanic cone of Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill), before following ancient lava flows through the Onehunga suburb, finishing at the other end at Manukau Harbour.
Just in case a cross-country walk wasn’t enough, hikers can get their fix climbing any one of the 48 towering volcano cones in Auckland. The easiest trail of them all is the highest natural point in Auckland and a part of the cross country hike, Maungawhau (Mount Eden). Breeze your way up to the summit for spectacular 360-degree views of the city. For something with a little more grit, catch the ferry out to Rangitoto Island where the hike to the top (and yet another impressive view) will take you through regenerating forests and lava fields.
The beaches really are something else
There’s so much beauty to be found in a turquoise lagoon fringed with squeaky, pure white sand, but the untamed coastlines of Auckland are beyond beautiful in their own right.
Auckland’s ‘wild west’ is renowned for its rugged beauty; this is where you can find the Tasman Sea’s mighty surf crashing onto the island’s most alluring beaches. Forget pink sand beaches (and white sand beaches while you’re at it) because the west is home to vast black sand beaches that are just begging to make it to your ‘gram.
If you want to know what it’s like to have a beach to yourself, head to the remote Whatipu, Karekare, Piha, Bethells, and Muriwai beaches. Although you’ll feel a world away, many of these beautiful beaches are less than an hour from the city centre, making them ideal day trip destinations
Feature image: Supplied
~ COMPETITION ~
Take our Auckland quiz for your chance to win a wine package from our trans-Tasman friends, Man O’ War. Whoever tops the leader board will take home a 2017 Dreadnaught Syrah and a 2018 Valhalla Chardonnay (valued at $113.20).
About Man O’ War
If there’s one place that truly captures the full Waiheke wine experience it’s Man O’ War. On arriving by ferry to Waiheke Island you can book a seat on the Man O’ War bus that takes you on a stunning tour from the main strip of Oneroa to the other side of the island. Via dirt and gravel roads you’ll arrive at Waiheke’s only beachfront cellar door. Pre-book a tasting flight or settle in for the afternoon as Man O’ War bay fills up with passing boaties dropping in for lunch and a few ‘supplies’. In late 2020 Man O’ War for the first time will be opening up the native and untouched Stony Batter for guided and self-guided walking, 4×4 and bus tours of their cattle farm and vineyards. All departing the cellar door and returning in time for Rosé o’clock.
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