I found a place that has a sophisticated urban landscape with gleaming towers and glittering harbor. But wait, there’s more. It has black sand beaches, a verdant rain forest, 53 (!) volcanoes and an island dotted with vineyards and wineries. And that’s all I was able to discover in a day!
This fascinating city is Auckland, stretching out across the peninsula near the north end of New Zealand’s North Island. It was here that I was introduced to the land of the Kiwi. What a lovely place to start.
My husband and I took a day long bus trip to get the lay of the land. Actually, we combined two tours, a whirlwind city tour of this home to 1.4 million people and an afternoon “Bush and Beach” tour that took us to a black sand beach, the Arataki Visitor Center, and into the rain forest, home of the majestic, and endangered, kauri tree.
Our tours took us through a number of historic and charming city neighborhoods where we got a good look of how Aucklanders view volcanos — they build playing fields on them. We were assured they are all extinct, or at least dormant. We also went atop Mount Victoria for a view of the Auckland skyline. Our afternoon tour took us a little farther afield, into the rain forest and onto beaches on both coasts of New Zealand, including the black sand beach by the Tasman Sea.
Auckland is rich in beauty. Whether you like vibrant city streets or the cool of a forest or the crashing waves of a beach, you have to like this grand city. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it.
Ⓒ Text and photos, Mary K. Tilghman
Tiki photo by Raymond G. Truitt