See Auckland On Your Own City Walking Tour

27 November 2014

I have attempted to explore some cities in this world on foot only to end up seeking out the nearest public transport. Auckland was not one of those. Its compact city centre made sightseeing on foot a cinch. Not only did I get a free and easy way to see the city, I was also able to help myself keep off any of those sneaky travel kilos.

I opted out of paying for a guided walking tour and honestly all I needed was a map for navigating to all the city's attractions. I was staying in the city, so sightseeing began as soon as I stepped outside. With the harbour, main shopping and dining districts, parks and iconic buildings there was plenty to occupy my time.

Below are a few sights I recommend to get you started when you're next in Auckland and feel like popping on your walking shoes for your own Auckland walking tour.
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Sky Tower

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 Auckland's Sky Tower is a behemoth of human innovation

Auckland's Sky Tower was the first attraction I visited on my personalised city walking tour. It was hard to miss, being right there when I stepped out of the hotel, rising above the other buildings. There were few places in the city where I couldn't see the 328-metre-tall tower – not a bad form of advertising.

If you visit the Sky Tower, you can tailor your experience in three ways. I went with the most budget-friendly approach and only purchased a general entry ticket that included the Main Observation level, Sky Lounge and the Sky Deck – the latter put me 220 metres high. However, you can also walk around the outside of the tower on the SkyWalk or plummet 192 metres to ground level on an assisted SkyJump freefall.
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Albert Park

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 Some students chilling out around the fountain in Albert Park

There was a lot to catch my eye from the Sky Tower's windows including Albert Park, which ended up being about a 700-metre walk away. Although not as big as Auckland Domain, Albert Park was a great spot to rest amongst the locals.

With two universities across the road, there was a young crowd and a welcoming laidback vibe with people playing guitar, kicking footballs around and enjoying picnics. On one corner was the Auckland Art Gallery, which ended up being a rewarding short-time attraction of contemporary art from local and international artists.

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Britomart

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 Britomart appeals to 9-5ers, indie diners and those looking for fashionable clothing

The walk from Albert Park to Britomart was all downhill, taking me closer and closer to that picturesque Auckland Harbour. Sticking to Queen Street was the easiest way to reach the water, and Auckland's main shopping street didn't hold back on the retail temptations.

Britomart was a thumbnail-sized precinct in the scheme of Auckland's overall city. A thin arcade took me past a handful of dining establishments and shops, leading out onto a grass-covered square with public beanbags. Britomart didn't feel busy, during the day or at night, which made it one of my favourite places to grab a drink and a gourmet burger and simply kick back under the fairy lights.
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Along The Harbour

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 Auckland's restaurant/conservatory in the Wynyard District

Britomart was barely more than a few steps back from the harbour. It was pretty much as far to the right as I wanted my legs to take me, so I headed back towards the main ferry terminal. Other than a few waterfront cafes and restaurants, there wasn't much to see until I got past the terminals and reached the Voyager Maritime Museum.

I didn't know I could be so interested in New Zealand's maritime history until I stepped inside. Interactive exhibits, traditional Maori vessels and inspirational immigrant stories helped win over my fascination.

After the Maritime Museum I continued flowing the harbour, passing an outdoor public library and over the Wynyard Crossing Bridge into the Wynyard District. I was given the real view of Auckland's harbourfront dining and drinking possibilities and came upon an urban park where many parents had found a place to rest while children played on the grass and playground.

I found the perfect place to take a load off in the Big Picture Wine bar at the Auckland Fish Market, sitting out in the open with a microbrewery beer and the smell of fresh seafood.

Ben Stower

I love the kind of travelling that is one part strategic planning and two parts spontaneous adventure. Whether I'm exploring my local city or a small town in the middle of nowhere, I'm always hoping to find something no one else has discovered.