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.
Medieval Towns with German Castles Near Munich & Frankfurt
Our favorite castles in Germany near Frankfurt and Munich:
We were crazy enough to visit Neuschwanstein Castle on a public holiday. This meant that along with all the Asian tourists, there were an awful lot of Germans. Plus, even though we arrived by 11 am, the soonest tickets we could buy were for the German tour at 2.30 pm, as the terms in English were sold out until 4 pm. So, if you don’t have German friends at hand to translate the tour for you, we recommend booking in advance online. The castle was impressive, and the time was undoubtedly fascinating! Don’t worry, I won’t spill the beans, but the manmade Grotto room made my jaw drop!
Mespelbrunn Castle is located on a pond between Frankfurt and Wurzburg. Unfortunately, we arrived 30 minutes after its closing time of 5 pm, but it looked cool from behind the fence!
Lichtenstein Castle is located on a clifftop near Stuttgart and costs 6 euros per person for a tour in German; however, they did give us a very informative written guide in English. This castle is small compared to Hohenzollern castle, but its story is fascinating. Tanks shelled it in World War II, and today you can still see the cracked mirror from where a small fragment of a tank grenade ricocheted!
Hohenzollern Castle is not too far from Lichtenstein Castle. It is located on a hilltop near Hechingen, and we enjoyed the guided tour. Along with getting to wear GIANT slippers, make sure you explore the casemates and secret passages. One sign made me want to learn more. It read, “Exactly where these steps lead to is unknown. More casemates and secret passageways are likely waiting to be discovered in the heart of the mountain”!
Heidelberg Castle was a lot larger than we expected! Unfortunately, we had spent far too much time at the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim, so we did not have time to explore this castle. But if we get the chance, we will explore the town and its castle next time in Germany.
On our drive from Munich to Frankfurt, we also loved:
The beer garden at Andechs Monastery was just like Oktoberfest but amongst trees and more family-friendly. The beer was cheaper, and the food was great, including the giant pork knuckle, which Moss could not finish. It was also fun walking up multiple flights of stairs to the tower’s very top.
Three hours in Rothenburg was not enough to explore this wonderful medieval town! We recommend getting your hands on a city map from the tourist information office. We enjoyed Roder Gate, walking along the wall and exploring the 17th-century spital bastion, plus Moss lost me in the Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop for over half an hour, and I didn’t even buy anything!
The average person would Google Munich to Frankfurt and see that it only takes about 3 ½ hours depending on how fast you wish to drive on the autobahn! However, we are NOT typical. We took one look at train prices and decided that hiring a car wouldn’t cost too much more.
We aren’t going to tell you our exact route. Still, after surviving Oktoberfest in Munich, we did a giant zigzag to see as many castles and medieval towns as possible. So to save you doing so much driving, we have picked our favorite cities and castles. First of all, ‘Ausfahrt’ is not a destination accessible from every off-ramp! It means ‘Exit’! Another word of wisdom to keep in mind is that the autobahns with speed limits do have speed cameras… and the flash is blinding!
Running with the Bulls Video
Our shaky Running with the Bulls Video footage from the Festival de San Fermin in 2012. Experience it first hand in Pamplona. Enjoy.
We recently wrote about our life or death experience of Running with the Bulls this year at the Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona. On that run, I carried along with our GoPro video camera and tried to shoot some footage for our running with the video of the bull.
All our travel video shooting techniques went out the window when the bulls’ hooves started to shake the ground beneath our feet.
Once we had lined up for the running with the bulls, there was no escape from it as we were walled in by apartment blocks, shopfront windows, and 3-meter high wooden barriers packed with photographers along the entire length. At one end lay the relative safety of the bull ring pulsating with the cheers of the crowd who were still partying from the night before. Behind me, a dozen wild bulls pawed the stony ground looking for freedom.
Unfortunately, I was standing in their path.
What we ended up with is below. However, I think what we filmed for our running with the bull video captures the chaos, craziness, and complete madness a lot better than if I had stood my ground.
Enjoy it and watch for the guy that nearly gets trampled to death near the beginning!
Running with the Bulls Video
Would you ever consider running with the bulls?
While we are very aware that not all people agree that the San Fermin Festival should be allowed to go ahead mainly due to animal cruelty, we think there are two sides to every story. We wrote a post about the controversy surrounding Bullfighting in Spain and the Festival de San Fermin.
We would love to hear your thoughts on the Festival de San Fermin and whether you would ever consider running with the bulls.
Outdoor Activities in Bangkok – Adventure City Guide
Find out how you can explore the streets, canals and local markets within minutes of Bangkok with our Outdoor Activities in Bangkok Adventure City Guide.
Are you looking for an insider’s adventure travel guide for the best outdoor activities in Bangkok?
Why visit Bangkok for adventure?
Bangkok is one of the world’s largest metropolises and a gateway for most of the world to access the rest of South East Asia. With numbers surpassing 14 million people in the Greater Bangkok Region, this is no small player in the world’s super-cities. Of course, having such a long history with foreign visitors, the city has become incredibly established in the world’s tourist sector.
This has allowed it to grow many facets of adventurous activities – making access to something for everyone!
Outdoor Activities in Bangkok
Exploring the Klongs
Klongs are canals that used to feed the entire city with life-giving water, branched off from the city’s main artery – the Chao Phraya River. Today, the locals wouldn’t drink the water if you paid them, but there is still a fascinating life along the Klongs’ banks. There is so much to explore, from floating markets to old houses on stilts, and it gives insight into this ancient way of life!
What’s it cost, and how to get to the Klongs?
You can usually arrange the Klongs from the pier “Saphan Taksin” along the Chao Phraya River. This is conveniently a stop on the Skytrain, making it very easy to access. Usually, you will be renting the entire boat for the day (about 1000 THB, or USD 35) and not paying a per-person rate. So if you can find a few people to go with, the price will drop significantly per person.
Rickshaw City Tours
If you’ve never been to Asia before, Rickshaws are one of the most fun ways to get around. Although they can often be a little more expensive than metered taxis, you get an experience (and a view) that is unparalleled, especially in the busy streets of Bangkok.
What’s it cost?
Occasionally, you can even haggle a deal for a city tour for next to nothing (50-100 THB or $1.50-3 USD), as long as you visit a couple of affiliated ‘custom suit tailors’ throughout the day, as they’ll get a kickback from the shops just for bringing you there… No purchase is necessary.
You can often find Tuk Tuk drivers willing to do this standing along the perimeter of the Kings’ Palace. It may take a few attempts of asking for a ‘special city tour,’ but you will be bound to find someone ready for a cut of this business.
Local Secret Spot
Though most people wouldn’t consider going to a market an adventure, they probably have never experienced the likes of Chatuchak (also known as JJs). This is one of SE Asia’s LARGEST outdoor markets. It’s so prominent that you can find maps of the market to help navigate. It’s roughly the size of 4 city blocks and is divided into various sections.
You’ll find everything under the sun here, from clothing to handicrafts, food, mobile phones, and even puppies and other cute critters for sale!! It’s bonkers. If it gets too much for you, you can take a break in one of Bangkok’s most famous parks (Chatuchak park), located next to the market.
How to get there?
You can get here via Skytrain (BTS), subway (MRT), taxi, bus, you name it – it’s very accessible! But it’s only open on weekends, from about dawn until 5 or 6 pm at its peak. Some shops stay open longer, but most will be closed by dusk. It’s free entry and a perfect place to buy ANY souvenirs at the end of your time in Thailand.
Suppose you can coordinate to be here on the weekend. I generally hate shopping for ‘stuff,’ but I love this market and its energy!
Best time of the year to visit Bangkok for adventure?
Bangkok is in the tropics and quite close to the Equator. Of course, this means it’s hot on a year-round basis.
It’s considered the rainy season from May to October, though showers can happen at any time of the year. This is generally a less busy time for tourists, though the rains are not quite as bad as expected and often only last 30 mins-1 hour, cooling the city’s heart. Peak season is in December-January when temperatures are at their most astounding ad driest… though it’s still pretty hot!
And if Bangkok isn’t to your taste, the luxury Koh Samui will be. Endless sandy beach, beautiful clear waters, and nightlife that could be lived in forever. The luxury rental properties are stunning, and we recommend Tempston Luxury villa rentals.
Finally, the reason I love Bangkok for adventure is that…
It’s never-ending. This city is SO BIG that you could get lost in a new neighborhood almost every day. Single. Day. And still find new, exciting things to explore. On my list for the upcoming weeks, I’ve got the Scala Cinema, the Thai Air Force Museum, Papaya Vintage Shop, and the Erawan Museum – to name a few. Every time I explore one place, I learn of 3 more!!
From a young age, Ian was always a wanderer. He’s since travelled to all 7 continents, and has spent the majority of his life pursuing this passion. You can follow him in his off-the-beaten-path adventures and discoveries on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and his travel blog Where Sidewalks End.
Have you been to Bangkok? What were your favorite outdoor activities in Bangkok?
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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