Kia Ora from Auckland. The city of sails marks the start of our two week New Zealand family adventure. After a 3 hr flight from Brisbane we landed in Auckland International airport. We had left our home in sunny Queensland at 9:30am but because of time zone change and international flight airport procedures, it was 9pm by the time we settled into our appartment.

We were greeted by pleasant temperatures of 25 C, friendly people and green rolling hills which we found out later are dormant volcanic cones. The whole Auckland metropolitan area is a massive volcanic field which could become active in the future. But don’t be alert, it could take thousands of years until this will happen again and volcanic activity monitoring systems are in place by the New Zealand government.

Where to stay

We stayed at the Waldorf St Martins Apartment Hotel located in the Upper Central Business District (CBD) of Auckland. The accommodation was modern, neat and close to everything. Conveniently the Skybus stops almost in front of the door and there are plenty of good value eateries around. The building is into a hill which makes it an interesting architecture with a steep staircase leading to the reception which is essentially the basement.

Staircase to the reception of our apartment...intriguing especially since it is right next to a cementary

Staircase to the reception of our apartment…intriguing especially since it is right next to a cementary

What to do

We started our day at the cruise and ferry harbour. If you like big boats then you won’t be disappointed as there is bound to be a big cruise liner in the port every day. There is plenty of beautiful boats around which is why it is called the city of sails.

The Viaduct Harbour and the Wynyard quarter is a commercial and residential development with fancy restaurants, bars and markets. It’s a perfect spot to go for a wonder and to enjoy the picturesque waterfront. The 37ha area has been home to the fishing industry for decades and is currently been redeveloped as New Zealands largest urban revitalisation project. If you are travelling with kids, then the lift bridge procedure is a must to watch.

Auckland Domain is one of the city’s oldest parks. It is very spacious with 75ha which has been developed around the cone of an extinct volcano. On the weekends it is a popular meeting spot to play team sports or ride bicycles. There are some beautiful views and photo opportunities to the Sky tower and waterfront. The park also hosts the Auckland Museum and a war memorial.

One of the many volcanic cones

One of the many volcanic cones…I hope that they will sleep forever!

Where to eat

There are plenty of good value eateries around especially if you like Asian cooking. We really enjoyed the BBQ Duck Cafe on 304 Queen Street. The portions are of good serving size and the duck was juicy and crisp. Staff is very attentive and friendly too.

Day trips

There are many day trips and ferry excursions available from Auckland which can be overwhelming initially. We decided for a day trip Devonport, a quaint little village just 15min by ferry from downtown Auckland. There you can find picturesque Victorian villas, beaches, stylish cafes and shops surrounded by seaside charm,

If you are more after an active excursion the free Torpedo Bay Navy Museum will keep everyone interested. There are also two volcanic cones (Mt Victoria and North Head) that can be easily climbed and offer spectacular views across to Auckland CBD.

Amazing view from Mt Victoria to Auckland CBD

More amazing views

Volcanic rocks

For food check out Corelli’s Cafe on Victoria Road which turned out to be one of our best eateries during our New Zealand trip. Everything is homemade and delicious.

Tomorrow we will pick up our campervan and start our trip to the magnificient Coromondel.

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