Are you looking for an insider’s adventure travel guide for the best outdoor activities in Auckland?
As part of our Adventure City Guide series, Charli from Wanderlusters shares with you her expert insider tips on the top adventure and outdoor activities to do in Auckland; including how to get there and costs.
Why visit Auckland for adventure?
Although no longer New Zealand’s capital city – it was ousted by the city now known as Wellington in 1865 – Auckland remains at the heart of life in the North Island. A great base from which to explore the tropical Northland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty there is no shortage of activities for the adventurous traveller.
Outdoor Activities in Auckland
Wire Base Jumping – Sky Jump
New Zealanders are well known for their fondness of adrenaline inducing activities so it comes as no surprise that they’ve incorporated the opportunity to get their fix within the centre of Auckland. The tallest man made structure in New Zealand the Sky Tower is a prominent feature of the cityscape.
If you’re feeling a little low on adrenaline during your lunch break, you can nip to the top of the structure, attach yourself to a harness and leap from a height of 192 metres. As gravity takes hold you’ll fall rather fast – approximately 85kph – for 11 to 16 extreme seconds before landing smoothly at the base of the tower.
Now being afraid of heights and content with my understanding of Newton’s theory of gravitation, I did not partake in this particular adventure activity. However I did manage to catch sight of a few adrenaline junkies testing their nerve, and I have to say it looked like quite a thrill.
Getting to the Skytower Jump
Sky City is located at the corner of Federal and Victoria Street in the heart of Auckland’s CBD.
If you’re in need of a serious adrenaline top up it might be worth noting that while the cost of the sky jump alone is NZ$225 / NZ$195 with student ID, you can combine the sky walk – a walk around the circumference of the tower 192 metres from the ground – with the sky jump for NZ$290.
Take some time to search for discount vouchers, there are usually some available. Check Groupon, Jason’s voucher booklets (found in tourist information), aucklandnz.com and phone hostels and backpacker accommodation to find out what rate they can offer.
Find out more at the Auckland Sky Jump site.
A Volcanic Hike at Maungakiekie – Cromwell Park / One Tree Hill
Although set within the city limits Maungakiekie provides the opportunity for weary travellers to relax in a little piece of countryside.
With grazing herds of sheep and cattle the chance to ramble through wide open spaces is an attractive alternative to the hustle and bustle of the CBD. An inactive volcanic peak just south of the city centre its Maori name Maungakiekie means ‘mountain of the kiekie vine’, though older translations site the meaning as ‘Tree that stands alone’.
Its English name ‘One Tree Hill’ dates back to the city’s early colonial existence when a solitary tree stood near the summit. Today an obelisk stands proudly on the peak in remembrance of Sir John Logan Campbell, who is often referred to as ‘the father of Auckland’. A great supporter of Maori tribes he chose to commemorate his death by commissioning a sculpture of a noble Maori warrior to watch over the city.
As the city limits have expanded Campbell’s legacy has remained in the form of Cromwell Park which incorporates One Tree Hill and 118 acres of land. Worthy of a day trip the park contains the Stardome Observatory, a quaint tearoom, children’s playground and for the more adventurous traveller the chance to hike to the summit for panoramic views over Auckland and its two harbours.
The opportunity to hike a volcanic peak is not one many cities can offer and I highly recommend taking the time to see this unconventional view of the cityscape.
Getting to One Tree Hill
From Britomart station in the CBD pick up bus route 500 towards Mission Heights and get off at Greenlane. Walk west on Greenlane for 2km. Total journey time of around 1 hour.
If you can handle an early start it’s worth the effort to reach the peak before the influx of tourists, cars and buses. And on a clear night it is possible to capture an image of the city blanketed by stars. The vehicle access gates close at dusk however you can walk in 24 hours a day.
Check the Cromwell Park website for their schedule of events including free concerts and guided walks.
Grab a Caffeine Buzz – Café Culture
Although we like to think that New Zealanders spend all their time frolicking in the countryside, the reality is that outdoor pursuits are often shelved in order to enjoy a frothy flat white.
Although they claim to have invented the drink back in the 1980′s this is widely discredited by the Australian’s who will tell you it is of their own design. For many Aucklanders café culture lies at the social heart of city living and consequently coffee shops have become social venues for business meetings, to catch up with friends or simply read the paper.
As every adventurer knows fast paced activity is not sustainable seven days a week. I therefore recommend an afternoon of exploration in search of an alternative buzz and guarantee you’ll soon notice this city takes its coffee rather seriously.
Dubbed by many as one of the best places in the world to drink the velvety black liquid it is hard to find a bad cup in even the most mundane of cafés. However if you’re after the ultimate buzz there are a few coffee houses that have elevated themselves to a superior level of coffee bean ‘geekery’. The art of creating the perfectly extracted short black is rightfully reserved for those with a certain level of skill, and when combined with a quirky sense of urban style the coffee houses of Auckland provide the adventurous traveller with a rather aromatic buzz.
Finding a great coffee in Auckland
Our favourite place to get your buzz is Espresso Workshop – 19 Falcon St, Parnell.
If you plan to spend your day relaxing on the sofas at your favourite coffee house get in early. The city folk have a tendency to indulge their penchant for a caffeine buzz regularly and you’ll often find limited free seating at the more stylish establishments.
Local Secret Adventure in Auckland
Scuba Saturday at Global Dive
If you’re scuba certified Global Dive offer free diving at their monthly scuba Saturday meet – just pay for any gear rental and tank fills.
Every two to three weeks Global instructors take their open water students north to Goat Island Marine Reserve for training and kindly invite certified divers to join them free of charge. A very social affair it’s a great opportunity to meet fellow scuba nuts and get your head underwater to explore the rich waters of New Zealand’s coastline.
Entering from the beach you can find plenty of channels and rocky out crops to explore with your buddy. The depth varies and the terrain caters for both experienced divers and those new to the sport. The diverse mix of marine life you’re likely to encounter includes Snapper, Blue Cod, Goatfish, Parore, Blue Maomao, Sweep, Trevally, Jack Mackerel, Red Moki, Kelpfish, Demoiselle, Big Eye, Triplefins, Stingrays, Eaglerays, Sea Cucumber, Starfish, Urchins, Nudibranchs, Octopus, Hermit Crabs, Crayfish, Anemones, Sponges, Corals and Hydroids.
They’ve even been known to encounter Dolphins and Orca at certain times of the year.
I didn’t get the chance to join Global for their Scuba Saturday meet however I thoroughly enjoyed their weekend live aboard at the Poor Knights Islands, a pristine marine reserve on the east coast of Northland.
Make sure you contact Global Dive to confirm your attendance at Scuba Saturday. If you’re in need of a buddy or transport from Auckland call into the shop and discuss your options with the Global staff, they’re incredibly helpful and will ensure you’re looked after.
Global Dive is located at 132 Beaumont Street near Westhaven Marina in the centre of the city.
If you know the dates you’ll be in Auckland phone ahead and book your place at Scuba Saturday as it is popular with local and visiting divers alike.
You’ll be shore diving so ensure you thoroughly rinse your kit after the dive. Sand gets everywhere and can affect the mechanisms of your equipment if not washed out ASAP. Find out more from their site Global Dive.
Best time of the year to visit Auckland for adventure?
Auckland enjoys a warm temperate climate for the majority of the year and as such has warm humid summers and mild, wet winters. While the winter months provide the surrounding rainforest with the chance to rejuvenate, it can dampen your desire for outdoor adventure so I recommend visiting during the summer months (October to April) to maximise your opportunity to explore.
Finally, the reason I love Auckland for adventure is because…
Sprawled across a narrow isthmus and surrounded by rainforest Auckland is the perfect base for an adventurous adrenaline junkie. With the opportunity for adventure above and below the waterline there’s plenty to keep any explorer entertained for the duration of their stay. From idyllic island escapes to urban cultural retreats, the buzz of the city is mirrored by the vibrant inhabitants who thrive on a balanced diet of adrenaline, culture and relaxation.
In 2010 Charli & Ben made the decision to live a life less ordinary and six months later embarked on an undefined period of travel. Enforcing no restrictions on their itinerary they have chosen to travel at a slow pace and incorporate house sitting assignments in each country they visit.
With no time limit restricting their experience they are content to continue exploring the world as digital nomads. From backpacking through Central America to road tripping around Australia they embrace each and every opportunity for adventure.
4 Ways to Sleep in the Outdoors Without a Tent
Is there anything more enjoyable than spending a night under the stars? Ok, spending a night with Chris Hemsworth, perhaps. But apart from that, getting back to nature and laying out under the cool night air must be one of the last true pleasures available to all of us.
But what happens if you love camping but hate tents? All those annoying poles, pesky pegs and flapping fabric are quite frankly too much to take sometimes.
Well don’t despair my friend, there are many ways you can get your fix of al fresco snoozing without having to resort to the cocooning yourself in canvas. Read on below and we will lay out 4 amazing ways you can get your sleep on without a tent to be seen…
Swinging in a hammock
We love hammocks. All hammocks are great. Well, maybe not banana hammocks but all hammocks that you can swing in are! They are so much smaller and more lightweight to carry than a boring old tent. You don’t need to find a piece of flat ground to pitch them on. All you need are two well placed trees and you are good to go.
What’s more there is just something so romantic about sleeping in a hammock. Come on, nothing sings relaxation more than the gentle sway of hammock. Remember to bring your cowboy hat to tilt over your eyes!
On a lilo/air bed/camping mattress
This one also refers to anything from a cheap air bed to an expensive camping mattress. Basically I mean the thing you would hunker down on normally when sleeping inside a tent, only get rid off the tent part. It’s not necessary.
Take some deep breaths and blow up your airbed or roll out your fancy self-inflating termo-rest and you are good to go. While you obviously aren’t as protected as you are inside the impenetrable nylon fortress of a tent, the joy of leaving the pegs and poles at home and just sleeping outside are well worth the added risk of being chewed on by a curious beetle.
A good addition when adopting this method could be one of those handy pop up mosquito nets you can get. Or if you want to travel as light as possible, arming yourself with a sleeping bag with a built in mosquito net for the face hole is a top idea.
The biggest downside of sleeping on an air-based mattress is the risk that the air may not stay where it should for the entire night. Do yourself a favour, read this article and learn a life skill that could mean the difference between a beautiful night’s sleep and hours of cursing at the moon – like some kind of deranged foulmouthed werewolf!
In a bivvy bag
Some of you out there may be thinking…”what the frick is a bivvy bag!?”. Well if you picture one of those body bags you’ve seen on CSI then you are getting close. Bivvy bags were originally designed for the armed forces as a way to give them a little protection from the elements at night when they are out sneaking up on enemies and the like.
Basically it is lightweight bag that you slide yourself into, either with or without or sleeping bag depending on the temperature. The bivvy will protect you from the harshness of the wind and rain and allow you to be as close to nature as can be. You will be fully encased apart from a small opening for your face to poke out.
Think of it as a tiny streamlined tent just for you body.
The benefits of a bivvy, aside their size, are that they give you an almost invisible profile. Meaning that you can settle down almost anywhere in the landscape and the chances of you being spotted while you snooze are close to zero. Perfect when you don’t want anyone to interrupt your holy communion with Mother Nature.
In your car
Cruising along the open road with your mates in the back, the windows down and tunes turned up is one of the best feelings many of us will experience. It is the closest most of us come to living the life we see in the movies and magazines.
What then could be less hassle than finding a beautiful spot overlooking the bay, having a few bevvies and then stretching out to sleep in back? Then repeating the whole process again tomorrow, then the next day, then the next.
Word of warning: Excessive sleeping in cars may not be the best idea for the taller ones amongst you, Back Seat Back is a debilitating condition that affects many of my closest buddies.
Sleeping in the fresh air is often pure bliss but obviously choose your night wisely. Check the weather and always be aware of the dangers, big and small. The benefits of all the above suggestions is their simplicity, the downside is once you remove the tent there isn’t much protection between you and the beasties. My top tip, take a mozzie net or get yourself a good spray, or else you’d better prepare for some a little itchy, itchy, itchy, scratchy, scratchy, scratchy in the morning!
Happy tent-free camping my good friends!
The Outback Planner- How to Get Ready For an Australian Adventure
Australia has some beautiful outback scenery, and exploring this scenery is an experience everyone who travels to, or lives in, Australia should have. Hiking through raw, untamed bush not only gives your body a healthy workout, but also gives you access to some of the best, hidden viewing spots for wildlife and scenery.
Of course, you can’t just hop in your car and drive to the nearest national park to stomp out into the bush, there are things you need to prepare for. Every year, inexperienced hikers get lost out in the national parks and bushlands of Australia, in every state, and some of them even die while trying to make their way back to civilization.
It’s a dangerous country when you take into account the wildlife, the unexpected landslides, the steep cliffs and the complexity of the landscape, which makes it easy to get lost in. To help you get ready properly for your Australian adventure, we have put together a short guide.
Find a Location
First and foremost is the importance of finding a location to explore. There are plenty of national parks with cleared paths to take around, and heaps of hiking trails all throughout each state. The more toward the coasts you travel, the more coastal wildlife and plantlife you’ll see in your travels, and cooler temperatures means more lush, forest-like greenery.
If you head inland, be ready for drier climates and more wide open tracts of land, especially in areas divided up for farmland. Remember, national parks are great places to safely explore, but straying into a farmer’s property is illegal and should be avoided at all costs.
Once you’ve got your location, it’s time to get yourself geared up. Longer trips out into the wilds of Australia will require more supplies and more gear. So, if it’s a day trip, remember to pack lightly and bring high energy food, protein of some sort, plenty of water, and some sort of map of the park, if there’s one available.
For longer trips, like a weekend away of a week of camping, you’ll obviously need more food, lots more water, and other supplies like a tent, towels, a secondary pair of shoes and socks, a few changes of clothes, an axe for chopping wood, a high quality LED torch, and some bedding. These supplies will help you stay alive and in good shape while you trudge through the vast outback.
Check The Essentials
Before you set off on your adventure, it is important that you check the essentials. Things like: what will the weather be like while you’re out there, what are the dangers associated with the location you’ve chosen, what wildlife is hazardous in the area you’ve picked and how to avoid it. These things are all elements that can threaten your life, so learning about them and being aware of what to do in these situations is vital to your survival. Check how many people get lost in this area every year too, and if the number is high, bring a GPS locator as an emergency backup plan in case things go awry.
These tips can help keep you alive, strong, and happy while exploring the beautiful, expansive areas that Australia has to offer. Take in the gorgeous scenery, spot some strange and exciting animals, and most importantly, stay safe.
From Rock To Reef: Some of the Ways To See Australia
The number of tourists choosing Australia as a vacation destination is rising and rising. And in many ways, it is easy to see why. The climate is good pretty much all year round, and the country is vast, meaning many things to see and do. There are more airlines that are flying to Australia from more cities and countries, making it simpler for everyone to get there. So really, the numbers are likely to just keep on rising.
In such a huge country, though, where do you start planning your trip? It can be easy to get a little carried away and be a little over-ambitious with your planning. But it can mean that you don’t get to enjoy some things for as long as you’d want, or can mean too much time on other things; you simply can’t know what you’ll enjoy until you get there. There are plenty of organised tours that you could join in on, as well as arrange your own.
Organised tours will have some benefits, in that they are professionally organised, so it usually means a tight schedule with minimum time spent on internal transfers or transport. But the downside can be that you have to stick to their schedule, and you might not get to explore as much as you may want to. So you do have to think about what you want to get out of the vacation; seeing things, or experiencing things.
There are many great regions and cities to explore too. So staying put in one place could be your preference instead perhaps? With breathtaking beauty to experience, as well as activities and sightseeing, there are many choices. Being able to pack in a whole tour of the country does pose difficulties too. Take the weather, for instance. Summer on the south of the country (December to March) is known for its reliable warm and sunny weather. Whereas at the same time, it can be way more humid during those months, and it better experienced from May to October before the humidity gets too much. So plenty of things to be thinking about. With that in mind, here are some of the best ways to see the country, whether arranged by yourself or as part of an organised tour. What would you prefer?
Do It Yourself
If you like to explore within your own bounds, then planning your own trip could be the best for you. It will take some planning, though, so give yourself plenty of time. A good way to do it could be to hire a car and then use something like PMX Campers caravans as they can travel with you. At least you don’t have to think about accommodation every night, just a campsite to pitch up at. Having some local knowledge is really key too, as there may be some insects and creatures that you’re not too sure about, especially if you’ve not visited before. So make sure that you have emergency numbers to hand, and don’t ever head out alone. Stick in a couple or a group and it will make the trip much easier.
Great Australian Adventure
If an organised tour is more of your thing, and a long one at that, then the Great Australian Adventure tour could be for you. At twenty-one days long, it is not for the faint-hearted, with the tor starting out with a trip around the harbor in Sydney, so that you get some pretty epic views of the classic Sydney sights (Opera House and Harbour Bridge). It also includes Ayers Rock, Cairns to go snorkelling in the great barrier reef, a stay in Melbourne, wine tasting in the Yarra Valley, and visiting Tasmania’s capital. As you can imagine, it does come with a pretty hefty price tag, but for what you get, including all of your flights and transfers, it can be a good deal if you wanted to see all of those things anyway.
Western Australia Best of the Coast
If you want to see a part of Australia that is a little less developed and more rugged than the south or east, then the Western coast could be the spot for you to visit. It is known for its seafood and surfing, not to mention the stunning sandy beaches. You could get a ten-day tour that explores the scenic region between Exmouth and Perth, as well as the National Parks in that area, the beaches, and canoe tours. You’re likely to see dolphins and whale sharks on this expedition, so great for animal lovers and explorers.
Venturing out onto the largely uninhabited island of Tasmania is often part of this part of the world that gets forgotten about. But the location, just off the coast of Australia can make it a destination all by itself. If you are planning your own trip, then it could just involve a flight or boat trip, depending where you are coming to it from. But there are organised tours, like Perfectly Tasmania, where you can enjoy a twelve-day tour of the island. It involves cruise, hikes, national parks, and a trip to a private distillery, and a former prison. So good if you want to learn a little more about the island and its history.
Highlights of Australia
If you have got children or teenagers, then a more classic Australian trip could be for you. I mean, what is a trip to Australia without seeing kangaroos or koalas, am I right? The Highlights of Australia tour involves a few flights internally, which can be a good with children, rather than endless hours in cars or on buses. But you’ll get to see the classic sights in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth, as well as the Great Barrier Reef, Ayres Rock, and the Yarra Valley. There will be tours and visits to National Parks and animal reserves, so there is something for all of the family.
Have you been to Australia before and taken part in a tour? Or did you plan your own itinerary? It would be great to hear what you think.
Meet Cole and Adela
We have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...
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