News and Views

Auckland with kids in tow

Posted by Website Admin on September 21, 2017

Visting Auckland with kids? 

If you’re coming to Auckland with your family then we’re the best place to start. Our Hello Auckland tour reveals the legends of Auckland, the local laneways, the kid-friendly parks and we only walk in small-groups at a relaxed pace.  We’ve shown heaps of kids around town on our boredom-free, laugh-filled tours and always provide local advice on what to do next.

We’re parents too so here’s a handful of other suggestions, both free and paid, which we as Aucklanders enjoy doing with our children.   
Disclaimer:  The author is not responsible for any whinging of “I’m bored” or “can we go now?” at any of the following activities.   

Picnic in Myers Park.  Auckland’s CBD, access off 381 Queen Street.
If Charlie and the Chocolate Factory had a playground it would look like this. Nestled in the green valley of Myers Park, this recently upgraded funky-coloured kids’ space features fantail sculptures, climbing frames and a giant swing.  Hard to believe it’s in the heart of Auckland’s business district. Avoid park during lunch hour if you want the place to yourself as the nearby school uses it on sunny days and you’ll have to stand in line for a swing. Grab a pizza or kebabs from Queen Street and picnic in the park while the kids play. 

Velvet Burger 
With lunchtime queues out the door this Kiwi burger joint, with outlets in both Fort Street and Federal Lane, is really popular with the locals. Its Big Bird Burger is not made out of the long-extinct Moa bird, but delicious grilled chicken breast, salad, bacon, brie cheese with aioli and lashings of apricot or cranberry sauce. What’s more the adults can choose from a range of New Zealand beers, something refreshingly different and more wholesome than the Golden Arches. 

The Escape Masters
Wet day in Auckland?  No problemo. Unless you get into a heated argument over indeciperable clues with your teenager.  The Escape Masters in Queen Street offers a range of fun-themed cells like the Gangsters or Alien Abduction rooms to break out of.  In order to ‘escape’, you are required to problem solve and crack a series of puzzles as well as logical mind games while utilizing a wide array of technology to decipher codes and locks, all the while racing against the clock!  Whew, who knew family game time could be so challenging?

The Volcano House at the Auckland Museum
If your kids are interested in  volcanoes, shakes and quakes then head for the excellent volcano exhibit at the Auckland Museum. Sit in the living room of a purpose- built house as a TV newsreader reports the imminent build-up to a volcanic eruption. Watch the action unfold across the harbour as the ash and debris heads towards your home. Feel the impact of the earth shaking. This simulation will captivate budding geologists and anyone interested in New Zealand’s unique geology.    

Fishing under the Harbour Bridge
To view fish, penguins and sharks in spectacular underwater viewing tanks, you could visit Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium along the waterfront, east of the city. Or you could head 10 minutes west, pick up a couple of cheap handlines and bait at a local marine store and try catching a fish or two for yourself.  Park up under the Harbour Bridge alongside the local recreational fisherman and cast a line while admiring the channel views and listening to the terrified yells of the Bridge bungy jumpers.  And yes, there’s a good chance you’ll catch a good-sized keeper, although it needs to be longer than 27cm under New Zealand fishing regulations.

Rainbow’s End
Auckland’s not known for its theme parks, but Rainbows End is popular with families and kids aged under 15.  Based down the Southern Motorway, you can race, swoop, crash and splash on rides like the Log Fume, Stratosphere and the Corkscrew Coaster. Afterwards If your stomach can handle it, pop across the road to the Manukau mall to eat at the local foodcourt.    

Still looking for ideas?  Then check out Auckland for Kids or send us an email with questions. 

Five best day hikes near Auckland

Posted by Website Admin on September 06, 2017

Five best day hikes near Auckland     

We often get asked ‘which walks would you recommend close to Auckland?” We’re so blessed to live surrounded by breathtaking walking tracks that it’s kind of like being asked to choose your favourite child. But if you’ve only got a few days based in the city then here’s some tracks and trails we love like our own.

Auckland’s Coast to Coast (18 km, 5 hours, Difficulty: Moderate)  Where else can you walk across a country in a morning?  This metropolitan walk spans two oceans, volcanoes, views and reveals life in Auckland’s quiet suburban streets. Best of all around two thirds of the walk winds through parks and green spaces. We recommend starting at the least scenic end of industrial Onehunga. Take the train west from downtown’s Britomart station then start walking east towards the city for the stunning harbour views. You’ll earn them! At walk’s end you can reward yourself with a brew beside the Waitemata Harbour, one of the most beautiful harbours in the world. Just a warning, there aren’t many cafes en-route (Cornwall Park) and it’s not well sign posted either so plug the Ferry Building into your phone map or drop into the city iSITE for a trail map.

Te Henga Walkway (12 km, 4 hours, Difficulty: Moderate)  Forming part of the spectacular Hillary Trail, the Te Henga Walkway is a West Auckland walk which crosses the cliff-tops from Bethells to Muriwai.  It’s possibly the most interesting and varied track in the Waitakere Ranges. You’ll need to take two cars and leave a car at each end so you can begin the track from Bethells Road crossing the Waitakere River footbridge where you'll quickly rise to stunning coastal view. Take in Bethells, O'Neill Bay and phenomenal coastal vistas before tackling the staircase exit to Constable Road.  Local’s tip: Pack a picnic and linger for the views.  

Rangitoto Island to Home Bay (15 km, 6 hours, Difficulty: Moderate)  Yes you can walk up the summit but this is where the local’s go for a picturesque blend of volcanic, coastal and farm scenery. Take the inland route from the Rangitoto Wharf to the Islington Bay Wharf, crossing the causeway to Motutapu Island and over farmland to reveal the idyllic Home Bay. Follow the same track back after a much needed break at the campsite or take the Coastal Track back to the Rangitoto Wharf from the Islington Bay Wharf (note this detour will add an hour to your trip). Offering beautiful views and a really unique perspective of the Gulf, plenty of water is required as there's none on either island and careful planning to work with the ferry timetables.

Rotoroa Island  (Allow the whole day)  Another island walk, Rotoroa Island east of Waiheke has recently been reopened to the public after 100 years as a rehab centre. Now thriving with wildlife, visitors can explore the island sanctuary and idyllic bays from Cable Bay on the northern side to Ladies Bay on the east. Catch the once-a-day ferry from downtown in the morning which returns to pick you up later in the day. Take adequate food and supplies. Local’s Tip: Visit Kiwi environmental artist Chris Booth's sculpture on the southern tip of Rotoroa.  

Wenderholm Regional Park (5 km, 1.5 hours, Difficulty: Low)  We’ve left the easiest to last. Drive north some 45 minutes towards Wenderholm Regional Park. Nestled between the inlets of the Waiwera and Puhoi Rivers, the park offers sprawling grass for picnics, plenty of trees to climb, a beautiful white sandy beach and best of all, a lovely loop track suitable for all ages. The Perimeter Track is aptly named as it follows the boundary of the park beginning from the carpark through native bush where Tui and Kereru are abundant. Winding upward there's a great mix of sights, sounds and well-formed steps as you make your way to the top of the track toward spectacular views of the park, Sullivans Bay and Motuora Island. Descending along the cliff edge and back into bush past the old water reservoir catch a glimpse of the historic Couldrey House homestead before spilling out to any number of idyllic picnic spots. On the return journey,  stop at the Waiwera Thermal Pools for a relaxing drip and some hot chips.

Of course, if you’ve only got a day in Auckland then join us on a guided walk for the city’s laneways, legends and loads of local advice.  

For more Auckland walking tracks click here 

Content reproduced in part from Concrete Jungle