Beach Vacations to Auckland, New Zealand
|Medlands Beach on Great Barrier Island, Auckland (Scott Venning, courtesy New Zealand Tourism)|
With some 1.3 million people, Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand and the gateway to Kiwiland for most travelers. Those who think of New Zealand as bucolic and rural will be surprised to find a big, bold city, boasting the tallest tower in the Southern Hemisphere—the imposing 1,076-foot (328-meter) Sky Tower. Built on a narrow isthmus between the sparkling waters of the Waitemata and Manukau harbors, its nickname is the “City of Sails." You’ll know why when you see the plethora of yachts: there are more per capita than any metropolis in the world. The nation’s National Maritime Museum in Auckland traces New Zealand’s unique relationship with the sea that has lasted over 1,000 years.
Built around 48 extinct volcanoes, Auckland is the largest city in Polynesia. For some Polynesian island nations, there are more expatriates living in Auckland than in their homeland. Auckland’s rich cultural mix adds a cosmopolitan air to the place.
Although at its best in its trendy inner suburbs, Auckland’s outdoorsy side is something to brag about as well. The harbor itself is home to pristine islands and beaches, particularly Waiheke Island and Great Barrier Island—both popular with locals and tourists alike. The Kiwis’ love of nature and the ocean emanates from the myriad of outdoor festivals to the constant stream of surfers, divers, yachties, swimmers, and extreme sport enthusiasts. Locals even use the top of the Auckland Harbour Bridge as a hiking point, and the more adventurous bungee jump from it. Rainforest surrounds the hills around the city, and the nearby Waitakere and Hunua ranges offer dozens of hikes for all abilities. As for beach lovers, you’ll find a wealth of relatively empty, sandy spots within a short drive of the city to quell your need for some seaside R&R.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication