Piha Beach, on the wild Tasman coast, is famous for the Lion Rock vistas, black sand beaches, great surf and deadly rips. If you venture into the water, do so only between the lifeguard flags. Changing rooms, a shop and campground are available. If coming in summer, bring plenty of sunscreens and a hat as it can be blistering hot on the black sand. The beach is also spectacular on a wild, windy day. From north Piha, there are walking tracks to more secluded beaches.
Surrounded by the water, Waiheke Island is known to be the second-largest island of the Hauraki Gulf. With an abundance of caves, the island branches into several peninsulas, breaking up the coast into a series of bays. The island's beaches are spotless and a popular choice for family picnics. Visitors may also wander around the island along the various trails that riddle its cliffs and slopes. Waiheke houses many art galleries and sports facilities, as well as a cinema, a theater and various wineries. Waiheke Island's prime attractions include the Whakanewha Regional Park, the Waiheke Community Art Gallery, the Oneroa Bay, Onetangi Beach and the Cascades Waterfall.
Located in the heart of Piha's tropical forests is Kitekite Falls, a beautiful tri-level 40 meter (131 feet) waterfall that that flows into a pristine pool. After a comfortable trek through lush forests, visitors are rewarded with the sight of gorgeous white ribbons of cascading water bordered by tall towering trees and Nikau Palms. Take along a picnic and enjoy it on the banks of the pool after a refreshing swim. The adventurous can swim under the falls to emerge behind the sheet of tumbling water. This place is great for a casual hike or a picnic with family and friends and should not be missed.
Also known as Maungakiekie, One Tree Hill is a terrestrial elevation which is characterized by typical volcanic features like scoria cones. This volcanic peak was once marked by a single 120-year-old Totara tree at the top, which was later cut down leaving only the stump to mark its existence. The land is now interspersed with a few trees which were later planted by the Tupuna Maunga Authority in 2016. The summit of Maungakiekie features a very prominent obelisk, fronted by the statue of a Māori warrior, it's lofty perch granting a panoramic view of the surroundings. Underneath the obelisk lies the burial place of Sir John Logan Campbell, who was actively involved in the construction of this memorial to the Māoris. An elevated swathe of open land, One Tree Hill is an ideal location for stargazing.
Just a short walk east from the city center, Auckland Domain is among New Zealand's oldest municipal parks. Founded in 1843, the Domain features the Auckland War Memorial Museum, an outdoor fernery and the splendid Wintergardens, a band rotunda, sculptures, lush lawns, kiosks and more. Additionally, the park is home to numerous notable memorials. Apart from inviting leisurely pursuits, the Domain also serves as a venue for prominent events such as Christmas in the Park, during which spectators come together for a night of music and fireworks.
Fo Guang Shan Temple is a beautiful example of Asian temple architecture and is a place of true peace and serenity. The temple welcomes visitors and features fantastic and awe-inspiring statues of Buddha, well-maintained grounds, a small eatery that serves delicious meals, and a souvenir shop. Prayer services are frequently conducted for the religious. A visit to the Fo Guang Shan Temple is definitely a must when in the city.
From Queen Street walk up Vulcan Lane to enter Auckland's "fashion central." The narrow and sometimes cobbled streets and alleyways are home to some of New Zealand's top designer labels including Kate Sylvester, Karen Walker, Zambesi and World. Bring all of your credit cards and check out top international labels such as Versace, in the new and very chic Chancery pedestrian mall. Chanel-suited women trot alongside gray office workers and designer dressed-down students - there's a bustling sidewalk café or restaurant to match all styles. Cross Victoria Street onto Lorne Street, for a more Bohemian flavor, including cool second-hand book stores and New Zealand-made arts and crafts. Turn left at the end of Lorne Street, past the New Gallery and the Auckland Art Gallery. Head back along Kitchener Street to complete a loop of Auckland's finest exhibiting art galleries. It must be time for that coffee back on High Street!
In the heart of Auckland is Vulcan Lane, a historic city street that offers visitors an intimate experience of the best local scene the city has to offer. Wonderful landmark buildings on either side of the street boast numerous restaurants, bars, cafes, and nightclubs, making this spot perfect for a fun night out. Belgian Beer is a popular spot for a range of delicious brews and Le Chef serves some delicious coffee and quick bites.
Located in the heart of Auckland, the St Patrick's Cathedral is one of the city's most revered places of worship that welcomes over three thousand devoted followers every week. The church was originally established by the first Bishop of Auckland, Bishop Jean Baptiste in the year 1841 and was built and designed by Australian architect Walter Robinson. This original building no longer survives, and major additions can be attributed to Edward Mahoney and his son, Thomas Mahoney. The current church is a fine specimen of mid 19th-century Gothic Revival architecture and features traditional Gothic-style windows, a prominent whitewashed spire and a very fine timbered ceiling that features immense wooden trusses. The cathedral was consecrated on the 1st of September 1963 by Archbishop Liston.
Home to nearly one-third of New Zealand's entire population, Auckland is a cosmopolitan city that thrives at the brink of the Hauraki Gulf. Its slender bounds are packed with natural landscapes, picturesque harbors, a renowned arts scene, and a good quality of life. Known as the 'City of Sails', Auckland enjoys a dual harbor advantage that is unique to the city. While the Manukau Harbour sits on the Tasman Sea, the Waitemata Harbour is farther out into the Pacific Ocean. The city of Auckland, with its sophisticated outlook, booms with cultural diversity, which are visible in the museums dotting its streets, an interest in classical concerts and orchestra, and the arsenal of international and local festivals that are held here annually. Away from Auckland's pleasant bustle, the Waiheke Island on the gulf offers a relaxing respite and includes sparkling beaches and vineyards in its stunning landscape.