Auckland For A Short Break? Yes Please

11 November 2015
Read Time: 3.0 mins

When you think of New Zealand, chances are you’ve teleported yourself directly to the beautiful South Island where wineries, adventure sports and Hobbiton are at the top of all tourist’s to-do lists.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38rFxspy3D8

Instead, imagine a quietly bustling city of softly coloured Victorian architecture, bright-green open spaces, and a food scene to rival any of the top cosmopolitan contenders.  A place you can taste, explore and experience in just a few days. I’m talking about Auckland, my friends.  Walk with me.

 On top of the world at the Sky Tower.

Or rather, inch with me. Which is exactly what I was doing 192 metres above the ground around the outer ledge of Auckland’s iconic Sky Tower. No handrails, no safety net - yeah, no worries.  With just a metal grate beneath your feet, you have an uninterrupted bird’s-eye view down to the city below and an unreal  panoramic outlook on Auckland’s urban sprawl, green pockets and glittering ocean. You don’t have to go far for an adrenaline rush in Auckland as the Sky Tower is right in the heart of the CBD.

 It's all about the food in Auckland.

You’re safely harnessed and hooked up to a railing above you; but that means nothing to your pounding heart and trembling legs - trust me. However, push past those first few shaky steps, and it truly is a feeling like no other. I’ve hiked 6,000 metre-high mountains in the Bolivian highlands with nothing but a rope and an ice pick, and I’ve never felt a thrill like this. The truly brave can hang out right over the edge in thin air, but I’ll leave that to far greater daredevils than me.

 Remember 'W' for wine and Waiheke Island.

Back on stable ground, stretch out your legs with a stroll to inner-city Ponsonby and grab yourself a coffee and bagel from one of the many cafes that pride themselves on using locally sourced, organic ingredients. If you are feeling particularly rattled, you might favour a cold craft beer served out of a vintage Bedford campervan at The Street Food Collective, a permanent pop-up, open-air alleyway filled with a rotating selection of market vendors.


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 Moody morning on Waiheke Island.

Strings of glowing fairylights knit the sky above you throughout many of the snug, buzzing alleyways that snake off the main streets in Ponsonby; kind of like a warm, bright hug. In fact, venture around virtually any dining precinct in Auckland in the evening and expect to see these twinkling lights netted into canopies and threaded around trees, street poles and restaurant ceilings. We joked that Auckland should be renamed ‘The City of Fairylights’; the effect is gorgeous, and the ambience palpable.

 Just under an hour from Auckland is the Karekare Falls.

Need a breath of fresh air? I’ve got you covered. Head west and in under an hour, you’ll reach New Zealand’s famous black-sand Karekare Beach. Primal and dramatic, this beach has a rugged west coast feel where the wild surf invokes a beautiful, broody mood. It’s perfect just sitting and listening to the waves, watching the water create marble patterns in the black sand.  A short hike inland leads you to Karekare Waterfalls - a top spot for a picnic.

 Feel the breeze on the ferry to Waiheke Island.

“But what of the wine?”, you cry. Fear not, my thirsty friends. A short ferry ride away is Waiheke Island, home to over 20 vineyards. This is an island holiday within your holiday. Inception, New Zealand-style. Recently named as the ‘number 5 region to visit in the world for 2016’ by Lonely Planet, Waiheke enjoys less rain and statistically up to 100 more hours of sunshine per year than its neighbouring inland counterparts. We watched the clouds literally melt into blue sky as the ferry moved closer to the Waiheke shoreline. Once on dry land, you can rent a scooter (pre-wine, please) and go exploring.

 Horsing around on Pakiri Beach, North Island

For a clean, modern vibe, check out Cable Bay Vineyard where you can nestle in by the fireplace, or if it’s sunny, take your glass of plonk out onto the lawn, stretch out on a beanbag, and take in the breathtaking view of Waiheke bay. If you’re after a more rustic feel, head up to Mudbrick Vineyards (often referred to as ‘Tuscany on Waiheke Island’) and experience their potager gardens, where produce is selected fresh every morning, from plant to plate. True to its name, the buildings are made of hand-hewn mudbrick with heavy timber accents, and the surrounding views are peppered with pretty lavender bushes and olive trees.

The scenery here is so lush and colourful, it can feel painted on. White cotton ball sheep dot the landscape of green rolling hills, rocky cliff faces and seriously blue stretches of ocean. It’s life with the Lux filter turned way up.

So it’s official - I’m calling it. Email your boss, take a personal day or two, get on a plane and get to Auckland. It’s the perfect short break.

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Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to Auckland.

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Bree Potter

Give me a backpack and a plain white t-shirt; you’re more likely to find me lacing up my walking boots than strapping on stilettos. I love to explore cities by wandering their streets and drinking their coffee. For me, the best adventures have no agenda and open skies, and I’ve never met a hike I didn’t like.