Used to live there - fab place, 5 minute walk out of big bustling city, nice restaurants, boutiques and coffee shops. Laid back way of life out of fast pace of city.
Turn left at bottom of Queen Street and then follow road round, up big hill and there you are - it's a great place to have a slow stroll around eating drinking and viewing things and especially people watching.
In the grounds of Cornwall Park there are sheep, cows, and chickens. There's room to play sport, built in BBQs, a lovely restaurant to have afternoon tea too. It really is a gorgeous park and although it gets busy on hot sunny days you'll still find space to relax in the greenery.
They roast their own coffee, brunches are fabulous, the atmosphere laid-back, and there's a good newsagents with a wide range of imported magazines and newspapers (including the Guardian Weekly) just a few doors away. Open air seating out back with a small sandpit for the kids. The Atomic has been around so long that it's become a bit of an institution and so a wee bit shabby. But then shabby is part of the NZ experience.
121 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland; Tel:09 376 4954
If you don't particularly like heights and don't fancy the Sky Tower to get the amazing views of Auckland, I would seriously recommend a trip to Mount Eden. I was stunned and amazed at just how big Auckland is. You can see everything from there, the harbour, Rangitoto, One Tree Hill, it's well worth a trip. It's real easy to find, just follow the signs. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
The Link Bus provides a cheap way of getting around Auckland. It runs at least every 15 minutes on a circuit around the outskirts of the city and through the centre. It stops at most of the main central attractions (Sky Tower, Viaduct Harbour, Victoria Park Market, K Road, Auckland Museum, Newmarket Shopping, Parnell, Ponsonby and the Cathedral). If you're going to be hopping on and off, it's probably best to ask the driver for an AucklandPass ($9 - unlimited bus and North Shore ferries) or the flat fare is $1.30. All stops have real-time information to tell you when the next bus is due and there are automatic displays and announcements in the bus which list attractions at each stop. The bus operates in clockwise and anticlockwise directions and the driver will tell you if it's quicker to get to your destination using the bus in the other direction
Stops are clearly marked and the buses are painted silver. The website is www.stagecoach.co.nz/thelink/index.html
Devonport is on Auckland's North Shore and is well worth a visit if you don't have time to go to Rangitoto or Waiheke. As well as having a very pleasant main street with cafes (and a good fish and chip shop), there's a good beach and children's playground and there are walks up to the two extinct volcanoes behind the town which offer great views of Auckland and have historical interest provided by 19th century military defences. The ferry ticket also provides free use of the buses for the day.
Ferries to Devonport leave from the main ferry terminal on the waterfront near the Viaduct Harbour (Americas Cup Village area) and Britomart Transport Interchange. Ask for an AucklandPass, which is the same cost as a return but allows free use of Stagecoach buses too.
Smack in the middle of Waitemata harbour, Rangitoto Island (not that silly casino-tower) is Auckland's real landmark. Black rock and shrubby vegetation cover a steep volcanic cone. It can be a hot and mildly strenuous walk to the top, but worth it. Rumoured to be dormant rather than extinct, but unlikely to erupt anytime soon. Hopefully.
The three main beaches on the west coast are made up of Bethells/Te Henga, Karekare and Piha. All beautiful and spectacular in their own right. Bethells is a black sand beach and a favourite for walking. Close by is a little inland, one of the regions best wetlands and a refuge for wildlife. Karekare is a rugged place with an immense landscape and booming surf. An amazing sight to behold on any day. Piha is a great place for activity. Surfing, boogie boarding and frisbee to name a few. Its a lovely place to picnic and there is a camping ground so you can stay overnight and catch the early surf. All three beaches are a must to visit for their beauty and closeness to the spirit of New Zealand.
Bethells/Te Henga - From Scenic Drive, Waitakere Road, Te Henga Road, Bethells Road. Karekare - From Scenic Drive, West Coast Road, Piha Road.
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