His & Hers Auckland Sightseeing Guide

17 November 2014

New Zealand's harbour city of Auckland invites creatures of all habits, whether you prefer holding onto shopping bags or the handlebars of a mountain bike. Most visitors are sold on the city's go-ahead nature, where you're enticed to try multiple experiences.

On a recent trip to Auckland, two of Flight Centre's writers found their individual sightseeing styles appeased by the city's numerous attractions. Read on to discover how two very different travellers of opposite gender became infatuated with the 'City of Sails'.

 Auckland: A picture-perfect contrast of towering metal and low-lying greenery

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Hers

New Zealand may be known for its high adventure, but for a gal like myself, who tends to holiday at a leisurely pace with her feet firmly on the ground, Auckland certainly left a lasting impression. The largest urban area in the country, its easygoing sophistication invited unrestricted exploration. What I found was a seemingly endless supply of shopping, dining and culture that more than piqued my interest.
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The Quiet Charm Of Devonport Island

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It seems remiss to travel to Auckland and not board a ferry to explore the surrounding islands. There are plenty to choose from, and I settled on Devonport. After a short 12-minute cruise across the water, I was greeted by a charming Colonial-era main street lined with shops and restaurants. It's all easily explored on foot and offers up everything from bespoke jewellery pieces to modern art galleries.

A short wander from the main street produced Devonport Chocolates – an appreciated surprise with a great selection of handmade chocolates. With a few sweet treats for the road in tow, I put my walking shoes to work up the slope of Mount Victoria. Walking from the ferry terminal to the top of this hill only takes about 15 minutes, which culminates in amazing views over the water to the North Shore, Auckland city and the harbour.

 Spend the morning discovering Devonport

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Discover Auckland's Shopping Scene

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The city is home to plenty of retail precincts that appeal to any style or taste, with Queen Street conveniently perched at the centre of it all. This bustling city street is brimming with store fronts that provide a gratifying variety of local and international brands that sell everything from souvenirs to Prada bags. There is even opportunity to rebalance by ducking into one of the many day spas or salons for a facial, treatment or massage.

I wasn't about to let walking distance limit me when it came to exploring Auckland's shopping, so I hopped aboard the Inner Link bus (the green one) for a quick trip to Ponsonby Road. Tickets are cheap and buses run every 10 minutes to this trendy little strip of boutiques. Ponsonby also boasts a pretty impressive selection of cafes and bistros, which I took as a sign to sample the North Island fare.

 Queen Street: a shopping mecca

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Experience The Culture

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Back aboard the Inner Link bus, a trip to the Auckland Museum was a chance to appreciate both the beauty of the city's setting and New Zealand's heritage. This grand cultural centre commands an elevated position over Domain park. Be sure to take a moment to savour the views that extend across the expansive grounds all the way out to the waterfront.

The museum is open daily until 5pm with an impressive collection that covers everything from Maori culture to natural science. A museum highlights tour is available, which is definitely worth consideration if your time is a bit limited. I was happy to just wander, but I do feel like I only scratched the surface of the museum's extensive collections.

 Soak up the culture at Auckland Museum

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Carlie believes travelling is for discovering the unexpected. From fantastic meals in ramshackle joints to stumbling upon a best kept secret, she loves those fortuitous travel moments that couldn't be planned if she tried. .........................................................................................................................................................

His

Auckland loves to bare its hairy chest and crush a can of Tui without care for cuts and a bloated stomach, while at the same time tending to its manicured beard and touching up on its knowledge on the latest drops of Pinot. It's a complicated entity and as a twenty-something guy wandering around the city, I found myself drawn to particular parts, some of which surprised me.
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Where To Captain?

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Auckland idolises sailing, having hosted the America's Cup twice and earned the moniker 'City of Sails'. Cue the New Zealand Maritime Museum, where I followed the country's nautical history from the traditional canoes of native islanders to the state-of-the-art modern sailing fleet.

This wasn't a look-and-learn style museum, with plenty of interactive displays to get me in the role as captain, architect and sailor. In the Blue Water Black Magic exhibit I designed my own sailing craft, took hold of the wheel and attempted to keep the wind in my sails, and I teamed up with fellow would-be sailors in an imitation voyage.


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Beers, Chips And Barrels Of Fish

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At the far end of Auckland's harbour is a relatively young district called Wynyard Quarter. Unlike the nearby Viaduct Harbour, which has more 4- and 5-star restaurants, Wynyard features harbourside dining of a more down-to-earth nature. It's the type of place where you can find a public outdoor library, a bar and conservatory combo, and deals like four beers and chips for 25 dollars.

My interest in Wynyard was roused by the Auckland Fish Market, which found the perfect middle ground between rugged fishery and seafood connoisseur. The front areas were all neatly-cropped retailers, providing fresh seafood brought in that morning, microbrewery beers and a wine tasting experience. While in the back I could stand and watch the fishermen deliver their daily catch to the warehouse and retailers haggle for the best prices during the auctions (if I woke up early enough).

 Not a bad spot for some reading while the weather's fine

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This Free Falling Ain't Petty

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There's something exhilarating about having your toes over the edge of a building and knowing it's either jump or take the elevator of shame back to ground level. What's it going to be? Standing 192 metres high on Auckland's Sky Tower, with the city and islands sprawled out below, we can all become that superhero we dreamed of as boys.

The SkyJump is New Zealand's highest leap, and although it's not entirely accurate to call it a free fall (you're guided down by wires), you still plummet down the side of a building reaching speeds of up to 85 kilometres an hour. It's a mess of pounding blood and breathless screams, but the end comes with a rewarding sense of knowing you defied nature and logic.

.........................................................................................................................................................  Ben Stower loves the kind of travelling that is one part strategic planning and two parts spontaneous adventure. Whether exploring his local city or a small town in the middle of nowhere, he's always hoping to find something no one else has discovered.  .........................................................................................................................................................

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