The sun shines in Auckland for over 2000 hours every year and each of those hours invites outdoor activities to make the most of the warmth.
Auckland is a city obsessed with the sea, sited as it is on an isthmus between two harbours, boats and beaches provide many of the activities for recreation that the locals and visitors love. The East Coast beaches are ideal for swimming, with popular beaches like Orewa, and Brown's Bay to the north of the city; Takapuna, Milford and Cheltenham Beaches close to Devonport, and St Heliers and Mission Bay to the east of the city on the harbour. The west coast beaches are wilder, offering surfing opportunities. Piha, Karekare and further south, Karioitahi all have dramatic black sand, but watch out for the rocky outcrops and potential rips. Swimming in all its forms, from paddling your feet in the shallows to surfing in the wild waves, to diving in the deeper waters of the Hauraki Gulf are all options for a sunny day. Take to kayaking, sailing, windsurfing or rafting. Or throw in a line and catch a fish. Take a cruise or look for shellfish. It's all part of the sun, sea and surf culture.
Take to the water, take a cruise. So where do you cruise to? The Hauraki Gulf has a number of Islands that make great destinations for a day trip out from Auckland. Great Barrier Island is the largest, further out in the Gulf. Rugged and wild, many enjoy trekking, camping and kayaking on and around the island. Tiritiri Matangi is a very popular destination, a wildlife sanctuary for endangered species, such as the Takahe, as well as blue penguins, kiwi and teal. Rangitoto is the iconic island often highlighted in views of the harbour. Being a dormant volcano, it has a pleasing profile, but on land its beauty is glamourized by the huge forest of Pohutukawa trees, which bloom bright red in the summer, leading to their being named the New Zealand Christmas Tree. Waiheke Island is probably the most visited island, with an art and craft community on the island, and a number of lovely white beaches. Art Galleries, coffee shops and vineyards can all be on your Waiheke must-visit list.
The Botanic gardens are just the first of many lovely gardens in the city of Auckland. These gardens feature twelve themed gardens, many focusing on Native Plants. The flax, as used by the Maori for weaving, has its own garden, with many varieties on display. Also on show are Camellias, conifers, and Magnolias. A Gondwana Arboretum contains plants that would have flourished 150 million years ago, ferns, ancient conifers and cycads. There are also Edible plant and herb gardens. Other gardens that you may choose to visit include the Winter Gardens in the Auckland Domain, Highwic gardens, a Victorian garden around the historic mansion in Newmarket, or Wrights Water-gardens in South Auckland. The Parnell Rose Gardens are always a pleasure to visit as well.
There are also a number of Sculpture Gardens around Auckland, offering another artistic dimension to the garden. Kaipara Coast Sculpture Gardens in the north offer more than 70 sculptures in their nursery gardens. On Waiheke Island is Connell Bay Sculpture Park, with permanent and temporary works. Auckland Domain has a sculpture Walk- start at the Museum, and the Auckland Waterfront has a Sculpture trail starting at Britomart. Gibbs Farm is also amazing.
A day in the sun with animals can be like a dream for many people, especially kids, so a day at the Zoo may be the answer. Auckland Zoo has over 1000 mammals, birds, frogs, fish and amphibians, the biggest range of animals in New Zealand. Behind the scenes activities add another dimension to your visit, even offering an overnight adventure if you desire. Let the kids be a Junior Keeper for the day. See New Zealand's native birds as you have never seen them before or get up close to the unique Tuatara. Other animal activities also include Kelly Tarltons Sea Life Aquarium, Dolphin or Whale tours, or further afield, Sheepworld, and Goats Island Reserve.
There are more Theme and Amusement Parks in Auckland than you would realize, starting with the well-known Rainbows End at Manukau. It is easy to spend the day being entertained with all the rides, from the Log Flume to the Pirate's Ship. The Vector Wero Whitewater Park in Wiri offers a fun day out in the sun. Two whitewater rafting courses, the Tamariki River and the River Rush as well as the quieter Lake to paddle. There is also a 4.5 metre artificial waterfall to raft if you dare! Whoa Urban Playground, Obstacle course and Waterslide is like a glamorous playground and Silverdale Adventure Park offers nine exciting rides for a fun day in the sun.
Sealink return Fares Auckland to Great Barrier Island - Adult $105.50 Child $84
Fuller Ferry fares (all return fares from Auckland)
Highwic Gardens - free
Wrights Water-gardens - Adult $12 Child $6
Connell Bay Sculpture Park - Adult $30 Child $15
Gibbs Farm - free (by appointment only)
Auckland Zoo - Adult from $28 Child from $12
Sheep World - from Adult $34.50 Child $12
Theme & Adventure Parks
Rainbows End Superpass - (online price) Adult $58 Child $48
Vector Wero Whitewater Park Rafting - from $55 pp
Whoa Urban Playground - $10 Obstacle Course $10 four rides, Water Slide $10 hour
Silverdale Adventure Park - Adult $49 Child $26 or tokens from $4 each
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