The largest urban area is Greater Auckland (Auckland metropolitan area) situated on the Northern Island. Auckland also has the largest polynesian population of any city in the world.
It is made up of :
- Auckland City (The Hauraki Gulf Islands are not included).
- North Shore City.
- The Urban parts of Waitakare (Waitakere ranges are beautiful and you will find more info about that further on this website).
- Manukau cities.
- Papakura District.
- Some urban parts of Rodney and Franklyn Districts.
The name is Maori is Tamaki Makau Rau. Auckland is also named Akarana.
Auckland is situated between the Hauraki Gulf / Pacific Ocean to the east, to the south east we have the Hunua Ranges (Hunua Falls, Xena's episode Altered States), to the south-west we have Manukau Harbour and Waitakare Ranges and smaller ones to the west and north west.
It is one of the few cities in the world to have harbours on two separate major bodies.
Auckland is also well known for it port.
outside Auckland and you can find it easely when you are driving down the Highway. The exit is clearly indicated.
You are in for some hours of walk and you will see some nice animals, birds, reptiles, etc...which another zoo cannot offer.
Go to see the pictures we took, See also our other page entirely dedicated to our Zoo experiences. back to top
On your way to Mission Bay, on Tamaki Drive you find this amazing Antarctic Encounter. Kelly Tarlton's is just 10 minutes' drive or six kilometres (3.7 miles) from downtown Auckland. From there you also can overlook the beautiful Waitama Harbour.
Kelly Tarlton's is a wonderland of snow, ice and amazing underwater sights created by the renowned New Zealand marine archeologist Kelly Tarlton. You can explore in a snowcat the world of King Pinguins. This is unbelievable and you must see this. Nowhere else they have achieved this.
You can admire a Stingray of 2m long. There are sharks, stonefish, Piranhas, etc.... You will be amazed.
Go see the pictures we took. back to top
The Huka Falls are a set of waterfalls on the Waikato River that drains Lake Taupo. A few 100 metres upstream from the Huka Falls, the Waikato River narrows from approx 100 metres across into a hard rock granite canyon which is only 15m across. At the top of the falls is a set of small waterfalls dropping over about 8-10 metres. The most impressive is the Huka Falls Jet which brings you within a few meters of the bottom of the final stage.
Go see our pictures of the Huka Waterfalls. back to top
If you are affraid of hights such as the Sky Tower they you can drive upto Mount Eden. Mount Eden is a volcanic cone with a grassy crater. As the highest natural point in Auckland City, you get 360 degrees views of Auckland and therefore it is a favorite tourist outlook.
Go see some super views taken from Mount Eden down to Auckland. back to top
The Sky Tower is an observation and radio tower located on the corner of Victoria and Federal Streets at Central Business area of Auckland. It is 328 metres tall and is the 13th tallest member of the World Federation of Great Towers. The 328m high Sky Tower has an important touristic and telecommunication roll since August 1997. It is the highest building of the half South globe region. The Tower is yearly visited by approx. 1 mil.people. The 4 observatory platforms cover a view of 80km. And the Vertigo Climb and Sky Jump do give you the ultimate adrenaline kick. At night the Tower glows like a torch and is more attractive then during the day. At X-mas the Tower is turned into a UFO with a lot of coloured lights.
There is a Sky deck which gives a beautiful view and the Orbit is a restaurant that turns around and within 60 minutes it makes a full circle of 360 degrees giving you a complete overview of the city. back to top
On the southern shore of Lake Rotorua in the Bay of Plenty region on the Northern Island, you find the town Rotorua. It is approx. 60km south of Tauranga, +/- 100km south-east of Hamilton and 85 km north-east of Taupo (holiday place of Lucy Lawless).
At Rotorua there are a number of geysers, notably the 20m Pohutu geyser at Whakarewarewa, and hot mud pools located in the city. Even some mothesl do have a private hot spring pool. I advise you the Gibson Motel where every room has its own private hot spring. Take a visit at the Maori Village of Whakarewarewa. The guide will tell you all about the Maori tradition which is still active today. People have there own community there and they live as before. Be prepared of the smell as the geysers and the mud pools bring up hot water and steam from down deep below earth. Experience the Maori dance and songs and have a marvelous time.
Look at the pictures we too for you. back to top
This museum is New Zealand's premier martime museum. It is located at the waterfront of Auckland, close to the Viaduct Harbour. You find ships and models. There are also some nice exhibition pieces informing you about the New Zealands maritime history from the first polynesion explorers to modern day triumphs at the America's Cup. It is a nice museum and it is a part of your visit at Auckland. Do not miss it! We have some pictures of the ships we saw there. back to top
You have here the Waitakere Waterdam and the Waitakere Tramline. Follow the Scenic Drive and leave Bethells Road/Beach on your right side, go direction Piha/Karekare. Keep on the Scenic Drive. The parking is on Scenic Drive. Waitakere Dam Walk 30 minutes for 1.4 km. Going down is the easiest thing. Be prepared to get back!!!! A great adventure for the whole family. From the parking you have a road going down to the Dam and you will be treated with spectacular views. You can extend this walk by continuing along the scenic Waitakere Tramline Walk. It is very good indicated so you won't miss it.
The Waitakare Tramline is a 2 foot gauge tram ride from the end of Christian Road/Swanson to the Waitakere Dam. back to top
We took Paihia as our base for our trip to Cap Reigna. Paiha started in 1823 as a mission post. Nowadays it is known as base for sport fishing. Paihai is situated in the Bay of Islands. At Paihia self you can join excursions that brings you through the multiple litte islands cause that's why they call it overthere Bay of Islands. You can go for a fishing experience onboard of a boat. Further you have the possibility to enjoy other watersports such as swimming, kayakking, sailing, diving and waterskiing. Some new attractions are roundflights, paragliding and horsebackriding journeys. From Paihai joy also can join an excursion Swimming with the dolphins (which can also be combined with other water excursions). We had the pleasure to see some grey dolphins with their little ones. Because of the rough weather and the fact there were baby dolphins it was not allowed to go for swimming with them. To bad, so we will have to try another time. There are different opportunities on the Northern Island to do so. back to top
Reigna, which means "Underworld", refers to the Maori beliefs that the spirits of the death prepared themselves here for their journey to Hawaiki. The roots of een old pohutukawa tree on the point of the cape would be the departure point for these spirits. Visitors of Cape Reigna can see over the Columbia bank how the Tasmanian Sea and the Pacific Ocean (Big Ocean) merge into eachother. But this cape is not the end of the Northern Island. The most Northern Cape is North Cape. You enter Cape Reigna under a welcome bow and the view you already get by then is overwelming and makes you still inside. Out of respect for the Maori holy ground, drinking and eating during your walk down the lighthouse and back is forbidden. Also being silent as respect for the spirits is asked for. And it is amazing how this big crowd do respect this. Simply amazing. During your walk you are treated with magnificient view on both the Tansmanian Sea and Pacific Ocean. And let us not forget the view onto the lighthouse way down your walk. But you cannot rid of the mysterical and spiritual sphere that hangs above there. When you are at the Lighthouse and seeing nothing else as water, you really can say 'I'm Queen of the world'. The Lighthouse is seen from 48km when you are on the sea. This is some of the world most treasurable sights. It is a pitty that is not that very well known outside the borders of down-under. There is more beauty to see beyond Australia.
Attention! The journey to Cap Reigna, with the 90 Miles beach, Dune Rider, Gum town and Ancient Kauri Kingdom is a one day journey. The short layout of the program will be shown below the last topic of this excursion. back to top
The Ninety Mile Beach is remarkable only 96km (60 miles) long. The longest beach of the land has something as a desert, with sand dunes which can be 143m high. This region once was a foresterial ground but the kauri's have been destroyed in the consecutive Ice-ages by the floods. Some conifers have been planted to stabilise the dunes. Fishing and digging for clams is a very popular activity. The beach is mostly accessable by 4x4 wheel driving vehicles. And when there is a huge fishing competition you are amazed how many 4x4' and how long the beach is. The hard sand surface is also a loved place for mountainbikers, busjourneys and marathons. But be aware of the quicksand spots. Collecting the kai moana (seafruits) is not only a Maori tradition. A lot of New Zealanders fish from boats or from the coast, dive to fish or dig in the sand for clams as a addition to their diete. On the Ninety Mile Beach people search for tuatua, a kind of clam that appears in huge numbers. The daily maximum per person is 150 pieces and each clam needs to be 125mm long. Much more difficult to find is de paua. The daily limit per person is 10 pieces. But, but, but .... let's not forget the Dune Rider. Dune Riding is sliding on a body board down the huge dunes. Bare feet your cross the Te Paki stream, get your body board under your arm and you are in for climbing up the dunes. Remember about 150 meters high to clim in the sand. Therefore everybody takes the same tempo/pace and steps into eachother steps to avoid that with every step you slide down a bit. Keep your body board in a good grip cause the wind blows you almost away. Standing on top of the dune makes you feel as a giant. Imagine the tiny points down that are your friends, your fellow travellers, your wife or your husband, your partner? Same effect for the ones that remained down at the feet. They simply see you as a little dot. Amazing to notice that people of all ages do climb the dunes. If you need a rest during the climb or at the top, just take your time, no hurries. Then comes the big moment. Put your bod board down, put yourself with your belly down as if you would go body surfing on the sea. Some tips: Be sure your pockets are empty, don't take your camera with you, no sun glasses. Simply see that you have nothing to care about then yourselves. The best to get down and to built speed is to let yourselve go. If you want to slow down, simply put your toes into the sand as a natural break. But to get most out of it and get thrilled, do as I did and let yourselve go. Let nature built naturaly the speed, cross the feet of the dune and land in the middle of the stream. You need a refreshment, certainly if you want to go for a second time. Two to three times up is a marvelous excercise. If you can get to the second - LOL! I did! back to top
Waiharara. Kauri Forest. Marvel at trees that were buried thousands of years ago, to be uncovered in the gum digging boom that lasted 150 years and helped found the culture and diversity of the Northland area as we know it today. You can do a short guided walk through this forest and see how people lived there many years ago. You also can see the top of Kauri tree that peek out of the ground, or the ones that have been digged out. Remember that you only are seeing the top of the tree and that the actual tree is still many meters under your feet. Amazing ain't it. You also will see the digged tunnels by the people in that time. Tunnels to get access to the Kauri trees and roots in order to get gum out of them. Now you know why boots are called gum boots, don't you? History tells us that people were separated a long time from their family to work here, to gain lots of money.When the immigrants in the 19th century started to thin out the domestic kauri forest in a high speed tempo a new industry started. Gum, from the tree, became and important gredient for varnish. To gain the gum long metal tubes were put into the grand near death trees. This was usually done by Jugoslavia immigrants. In 1885 2000 people were at work in this industry. Afterwards a lot of them established wine and vegetable cultivation farm in Auckland. Nowadays the pieces of Kauri gum, known as amber, are popular souvenirs. The gum gets treated, polished and put into neclages and other small juwels. Sometimes you can notice insects or pieces of ferns in th amber.
Ancient Kauri Kingdom at Awanui.Here you can browse the finished products made from ancient and massive Kauri timber before buying your souvenir of an awesome day out. But take a moment to look at the big , big, big kauri in the shop. In fact the shop was built around that tree. Why? Well when you the pictures and see it afterwards by yourself you will understand that such a tree cannot be moved. The tree serves as a stair to connect the shop with the first floor of the building. Outside you will find rude and yet not processed kauri trees. So you can see the difference between a rude and natural kauri and the final product. Would love to have such a bench at home. But how to get it to the other side of the world? It has been studied and confirmed that the Kauri tree used for production are 45000 years old!!!!!! Imagine that! So meters and meters under your feet a kauri forest is still there. back to top
Right! All the above 2009 adventures starting in Paihai can be done in a one day excursion. To give you an idea I give you below a short overview on how such a day looks like. We went with Explore NZ as a part of your contribution goes to the protection and care of the fauna and flora of New Zealand. So I think it is a good idea to go through them and your money is not only for gaining money but also to help New Zealand. Depending where you are lodged in Paihai a bus will drive around and pick you up at your hotel, motel, etc... Be sure to be out in time. This full day trip takes you to New Zealand's most northern tip. On the way you will encounter fascinating landscapes, legends and ancient and modern history. This all with a dash of fun and adventure. No worries, there are many stops throughout the trip to enable you to take some marvelous pictures.
As we are already on the move very early the first stop we did was at Coopers Beach Cafe on the beautiful east coast where you can get your morning tea (yeah English based you are in for tea!). You also have the opportunity so buy something for your lunch. Normally then you have ashort drive on to Waiharara to arrive at the ancient buried Kauri forest. We did this stop at the end of our journey. Why? Well simply said, you need to be at the 90 mile beach in time because the tides. Otherwise you can't reach it, nor do the Dune Rider, nor getting in time at Cape Reigna. Anyhow I tell you here first about Waiharara. Marvel at trees that were buried thousands of years ago, to be uncovered in the gum digging boom that lasted 150 years and helped found the culture and diversity of the Northland area as we know it today. You can do a short guided walk through this forest and see how people lived there many years ago. You also can see the top of Kauri tree that peek out of the ground, or the ones that have been digged out. Remember that you only are seeing the top of the tree and that the actual tree is still many meters under your feet. Amazing ain't it. You also will see the digged tunnels by the people in that time. Tunnels to get access to the Kauri trees and roots in order to get gum out of them. Now you know why boots are called gum boots, don't you? History tells us that people were separated a long time from their family to work here, to gain lots of money.
Moving to the Aupouri pine forest with its herds of wild horses, we arrive at the famous Ninety Mile Beach (and as I told you just here above, tides will govern whether this leg is before or after Cape Reinga). Enjoy breathtaking views that go on forever as you ride this “highway of the North”. It is spectactular riding on a beach at high speed. We take an exhilarating ride through the Te Paki stream; known locally as ‘Quick Sand’ stream for good reason. Then give yourself a workout by climbing the giant sand dunes and toboggan back down. Great fun and well worth the effort. Back in the bus and off to Cape Reinga. The magnificent sweeping views of Te Werahi beach down to Cape Maria Van Dieman, the crashing turmoil as the Tasman Sea and the mighty Pacific Ocean collide, the splendid isolation of the lighthouse and the location of the Spirit Tree are just some of the highlights of this extremely spiritual place. Info about the Nine Mile beach and Cap Reigna can be found here above.
Then time to start our way back home and we go to Awanui and the Ancient Kauri Kingdom. Here you can browse the finished products made from ancient and massive Kauri timber before buying your souvenir of an awesome day out. But take a moment to look at the big , big, big kauri in the shop. In fact the shop was built around that tree. Why? Well when you the pictures and see it afterwards by yourself you will understand that such a tree cannot be moved. The tree serves as a stair to connect the shop with the first floor of the building. Outside you will find rude and yet not processed kauri trees. So you can see the difference between a rude and natural kauri and the final product. Would love to have such a bench at home. But how to get it to the other side of the world?
And ofcourse you cannot round off this day without some Fish and Chips. And for that the bus stopped at the ‘world famous’ Mangonui Fish shop. Eating your fish and chips as the sea washes gently beneath your feet is just marvelous. And then it is back to Paihia. back to top
From Paihai joy also can join an excursion Swimming with the dolphins (which can also be combined with other water excursions). We had the pleasure to see some grey dolphins with their little ones. Because of the rough weather and the fact there were baby dolphins it was not allowed to go for swimming with them. To bad, so we will have to try another time. There are different opportunities on the Northern Island to do so. It is so exceptional to see those animals in the free world. You get the feeling you are looking at the beauty of the see, which it is afterall. We admire also the respect that New Zealanders have for animals. They don't hunt on them so have the customers see some. If they don't find any dolphins you get a free ticket for the next time. And in our case as we found them, they just hobble slightly on the waves, use their engines in low level and try to follow the dolphins in a safe way without rushing or panicking them. And after some time they simply decided to leave the dolphins and return to shore. I find that very well done and full of respect. back to top
The place Tipi you probably will cross when you drive towards Taupo or back from Taupo towards Auckland. Typical for Tipi is the touristic information center. You can not miss it. The building has the form of a dog and near by, also outside, is the herder. And at the backside of this info center you have a small restaurant and a very nice shop. At the restaurant do try their famous chocolate cake. And in the shop you definitely will find something. If you travel southwards on the nothern island you have pass Tipi and visit this center. Take a look at our photo-album then you know what I mean. back to top
Giants of the Earth - Pieces over 2000kg and 2 meters high. Travel by elevator to the heart of Crystal Mountain to the world class Crystal Mine Museum. Here you will find New Zealand's largest selection of rare and exquisite crystals and minerals directly imported and sourced from mines around the world & beyond. An educational experience that will delight all ages, a world class exhibition. You first enter the shop but when you take the elevater and go down Crystal Mountain where you will be overwelmed by a new wonderfull world. The album will show you what I mean. back to top
Because New Zealand has been isolated over 80 million years you will find here plants and animals you won't find elsewere. There are wales, dolphines and sealions. There is a wide range of birds, primitive froggs and plants as old as the dinosaurs that makes New Zealand unique. I give you a short list. Nevertheless humans already damaged nature for a big part there is still much to see. Letg's hope it stays like this without further human damage. So we have Kauri forests, the tuatara the only survivalor of a kind of reptiles that lived 220 million years ago. Ofcourse we have the Kiwi, not the fruit, but the bird. You can watch him at the Auckland Zoo. There is the green tree gekko, the giant weta's which is a huge wingless cricket, harmless and big as a hand and living in the Kauri forest. We have the silver ferns, which is seen by many as a national symbol. The kowhai, sometimes considered as the national flower of New Zealand. Ofcourse the Manuka, think about the Manuka honey and care products. Manuka is a very good for a lot of things. And I close my list, cause there is so much more with, Kapapo (wingless night parrot), Kokako's as terrific singing birds, the king albatros the red pohutukawa which announces X-mas. back to top
Hole in the Rock can also be visited with a separate excursion. But we had the chance to see it from the 90 mile beach. And a chance cause at that day excursions to the rock were cancelled because of a to rough sea. As you can see on the photo album this is a gigantic rock in the sea with a hole in it, making a window. The separate excursion will bring you through the hole and you will be shown the inner side of the rock, giving you the view of the rock like a cathedrale. Nature makes and shows us such beautiful things, don't you agree? back to top
This is something you certainly must do. Helitranz has a superb service. As we did it on our weddinganniversary and because we are Xenafans, we got a special treat by the pilot. A very nice guy who worked also for Xena, Hercules, The Piano and many more show and movies. The heli took us softly from the ground after the security check. And then we were off for a 40 to 45 flight from the West to the East coast. A first surprise for us was the moment we flew over Bethell Beach Cottages, the place where we stayed. John was waiting for us to fly over and waved to us. Hmmm, did they contact eachother? Over Bethells Beach (Calisto's Cave) upto a beach just before KareKare. This beach between Bethells and KareKare is well known for a scene of The Piano. A second exciting surprise : the pilot parked his heli on top of a rock (at The Piano Beach), stood there for some moments and then took a dive. Wooohooo! This is cool and exciting! What a skilled pilot! We flew from the Westcoast to the Eastcoast, over Auckland. We even flew higher and around the Auckland Skytower. A beautiful view of that can be found in the photo album. Over Auckland port to Rangitoto Island. It was a perfect flight, a perfect experience on our special day. We highly recommend you Helitranz and to do this trip. back to top
Your surely have seen sunsets. But have you ever seen sunsets and you saw in a movie? Or even more beautiful than in a movie? Well New Zealand gives you the most beautiful sunsets you can imagine. A wide range of blue, pink, purple and yellow gives you a wonderful colour palet. You become so relaxed when you enjoy this colour game above the horizon. back to top
I had the opportunity to meet my Nyk collegues at the Auckland office during my holidays in NZ in 2007 and 2009. This was very nice and super cool and something my wife and I will treasure for always. At the Nyk office you are very warm welcomed by everyone. The typical and relaxed way of life in NZ. We got introduced to everyone at the office. It was interesting to see that at the other side of the world the same system is used for the job. A very rare feeling as you don't think about that when you go daily to the office or even send eachother an email.As I met the colleagues for the very first time in 2007 I brought them in 2009 some Belgian chocolates (Leonidas). In 2009 we got a bit more time and we could talk about the difference between our countries. That was very interesting to us aswell as we are planning to move over to NZ. I would love to continue my professional carreer with my Auckland colleagues at their office. Anyhow, I thank them for the super hospitality. And I hope to meet them again next time. back to top