Going sky high is a great way to greet Auckland, get your bearings and map out what to do and where to go next. Besides the obligatory coffee, you can go for a skywalk in a bright orange jump suit and if need be jump off it courtesy of the Skytower’s own bungy!
2 AUCKLAND ZOO
Ever wondered what a Bleeding Heart Dove looks like? Auckland zoo has many animal encounters (see their website for days and times of specific animals). Sadly at the time of writing the New Zealand bird aviary is closed for re-development and while there is still plenty to see, I’d give the Kiwi house a miss as all you’re likely to see is a darkened blob in infra red.
3 AUCKLAND MUSEUM
Although named the city of Sails, Auckland is in fact a city of volcanoes! And of course home to many Maori and Pacific Island peoples. Learn about their histories and see artefacts like the Pare before heading upstairs for the rather unnerving show about the next potential big bang – stay clear of Mission Bay if it begins to steam during your visit.
Speaking of volcanoes, here’s one the Gulf prepared 600 years earlier. The latest addition to the volcanic landscape around Auckland was spewed up from 125kms below the earths crust! Meaning bloody sky, Rangitoto is a unique island visit in that its greenery grows directly from the cooled black lava rock. The summit has breath taking vistas of both Auckland city and neighbouring islands.
5 TIRI TIRI
For bird lovers, catch a ferry to the wonderful Tiri Tiri Matangi island tucked away about an hour to the north east. Many rare species such as the Takahe, the north island Robin, Saddlebacks and White Heads reside here as well as the more common Tui. Pre-booking essential! If it rains, you can re-schedule free of charge.
6 PUB QUIZ TUESDAYS
Test your IQ at the Tuesday Pub Quiz. Many pubs in Auckland run these and they are compered with an earthy Kiwi humour. I’d recommend The Horse and Trap in Mt Eden or check out another general knowledge quiz at Sammy’s Place (a bar in the Skytower casino complex).
7 THE GYPSY TEAROOMS
Regrettably, neither a gypsy nor a tearoom but a pub set in the underrated suburb of Grey Lynn. While its next door neighbour, the uber-cool Ponsonby runs away with all the glossy merits with nearly its entire main road devoted to eateries, Grey Lynn is its quieter sibling nestling just behind it. The Gypsy Tearoom does however have an ornately cosy feel with a backroom comprising dark wood panels and amber lamps.
8 THE RAIN FOREST EXPRESS
Although express is stretching it considerably, it is a train of sorts. Crawling through the dense and often wet greenery of the Waitakere ranges; if you’re from Ireland or Wales, you’ll be familiar with the weather in this part of Auckland.
You can see glow worms through the glass roof and cave Weta’s – though why you’d want to see the latter (gruesome insect like creatures) is anyone’s guess. You will need a car to get there and there’s an optional walk up the face of a dam too. *not for the claustrophobic or excessively tall as the train carriages are pokey and the tunnels are like potholing in a train!
9 GRAB A COFFEE AT TITIRANGI VILLAGE
Titirangi village really does remind me of Sintra in Portugal but with an unmistakable Kiwi flavour. There are many cafes to choose from and a theatre too.
10 GET DOWN AT THE DECK
OK I’m cheating a little here as it’s part of the Skytower again but the Deck has its own feel with big windows – it’s like an airport departure lounge come disco! Friday and Saturday’s are best. If possible try and catch girl duo Pop Force, who dazzle with their noughties cover versions or soul out on a Sunday with the husky voiced Leza Corban.
*check Skytower website for schedule.
Well, the age old adage that the best view of Auckland is it fading away behind you is strangely relevant and you can’t have too much of a rain imbued thing.