Morning Ferry Ride to Devonport
Head on over to the Auckland Ferry Terminal and purchase a return ticket to the Devonport peninsula. The ferry ride is a short 12 minutes and operates regularly throughout the day. There is the option of going on a bus tour of Devonport, but it is just as easy to walk around the town.
There are some great shops to browse on your way up the hill to hike Mount Victoria. Also known by the Māori name of Takarunga, Mount Victoria is the highest volcano on the North Shore of Auckland and offers stunning views of Waitemata Harbour and Auckland City.
An Afternoon Discover Auckland Scenic Tour
The Discover Auckland Scenic Tour is a small group tour which allows you to visit the best sights of Auckland that you may otherwise miss. Throughout the tour, the guide discusses the history and geography, of Auckland.
There are plenty of photo opportunities as you encounter the sparkling Viaduct and Waitemata Harbours, beaches, historic buildings such as the War Memorial and Mount Eden.
Night Time Sky Tower Visit
The Sky Tower is a must on a visit to Auckland. At 328m tall, the Sky Tower is the tallest man made structure in the Southern Hemisphere.
There are 2 observation decks at the Sky Tower – the Main Observation Deck and the Sky Deck. Beware of the glass floors on the Main Observation Deck – most visitors were too scared to walk across them.
Day trip to Waitomo Caves and Rotorua
Be prepared for a very long day for the Gray Line Waitomo & Rotorua Deluxe Day Tour, however it is well worth it and you will have plenty of time to rest on the bus trip back to Auckland.
Traveling through the countryside, you will see beautiful paddocks, as the tour guide tells you about the history of the area. The first stop is the Waitomo Caves, located 12km northwest of Te Kuiti (the valley). With the Māori translation of water passing through a hole, the Waitomo Caves visit starts off with a tour of the caves, where the guide explains how they were formed and first discovered. After the tour of the formations, you enter a boat and slowly float out to see the glow worms (Arachnocampa luminosa) hanging from the roof of the cave. It is a peaceful and magical moment.
A surprise stop on the tour was to the Arapuni Suspension Bridge over the Waikoto River. The bridge is 152m high and located just above the hydroelectric Arapuni Power Station.
The next stop is Rotorua (two lakes). This is where the tour splits up and groups can go to the Agrodome, Skyline Gondola or Zorb experience. My choice was the Skyline Gondola; however it was an overcast day so unfortunately there wasn’t much to see from the top of Mt Ngongotaha.
Once all the groups are reassembled, it is time to visit Te Puia, located in the Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley. First up is a Māori cultural performance where the group gets to observe a ceremonial welcome and some song and dance, including the famous Haka.
After the performance, a tour guide leads the group to observe the kiwi bird in the Nga Manu Ahurei – Kiwi House. It is then time to see the Mud Pools and spectacular geysers. If you aren’t aware, the geysers do not have a very nice smell. It is then time for the long drive back to the Auckland.
Ferry Trip to Waiheke Island
A 40 minute ferry ride from Auckland is Waiheke Island. Translating to cascading waters in Māori and located in the Hauraki Gulf, Waiheke Island is one of the most populated islands in New Zealand and is fully of beautiful beaches and vineyards.
It is well worth purchasing the Fullers Waiheke Explorer Tour ferry ticket which includes a 1.5 hour bus tour. At 92km2, there is a lot of area to cover on the Island and the bus tour provides an easy way to see the sights and learn about the history of Waiheke Island at the same time. After the bus tour, the driver will either take you back to the ferry terminal or drop you off at Oneroa.
Departing the bus at Oneroa provides the perfect opportunity to browse the boutique stores and enjoy a nice lunch – I recommend the Solar Eating House.
As part of the bus tour an all day bus pass is included, allowing free travel around the Island – car, scooter and bike hire is also available. However, the walk from Oneroa to Matiatia Wharf to catch the return ferry back to Auckland is quite enjoyable.
Half Day Bush and Beach Tour
A must for the final day in Auckland is the afternoon 1/2 day Wilderness Experience Bush and Beach Tour. This allows you to browse Queen Street for souvenirs in the morning and any other shopping you have planned.
A friendly tour guide/driver picks you up from your city accommodation at lunch time and you are soon on your way out of Auckland city. The first stop on this tour is the Arataki Visitor Centre, located between Titirangi and Waiatarua. The Arataki Visitor Centre is the entrance to the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park and there are some great lookouts to take photos of Auckland.
The next stop on the tour is Piha Beach. Located on the West Coast, Piha is 39 kilometres from Auckland City. A special feature of Piha Beach is the black sand which gets its colour from the high iron content originating from the Volcanos. Piha Beach is also a filming location for the TV show 800 Words, who just happened to be filming on our visit.
The third stop on the Bush and Beach Tour is the Bush. In this case, the Bush actually refers to the Kitekite Falls Rainforest Walk. The guide takes you on a short hike, or tramp as it is referred to in New Zealand, to the Kitekite Falls.
The final stop on the return back to Auckland City is on the roadside to see a magnificent Kauri tree.
I recommend staying at the Mercure Auckland in one of the recently refurbished superior rooms. The room is comfortable and to an Accor Hotel standard. The location is fantastic – only a block away from the Viaduct Harbour and right on Queen Street.