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.
At 260 meters (850 feet), Rangitoto is Auckland's largest and youngest volcano. It last erupted over 600 years ago and is covered in regenerating forests and barren lava flows. Views from the summit are incredible on a clear day, with vistas to Kawau Island to the north and Great Barrier and Little Barrier to the north-east. Access to this volcanic island is provided by ferry and a 45-minute walk up the well-maintained track leads to the summit. A tractor and trailer, booked in conjunction with the ferry, also goes up to the summit.
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.
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.
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 is visible in the museums dotting its streets, its 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.
The sky-piercing Sky Tower is known to be one of the tallest man-made structures in New Zealand, and is a part of the SkyCity Auckland casino complex. To be able to best experience the view from the top, visitors are provided with not one, but two observation decks that offer sweeping views of the city's skyline. The first is at a height of 186 meters (610 feet), while the Skydeck is perched on the 60th floor, exactly below the main antenna, and offers unrestricted views of Auckland. The Sky Tower also features restaurants, bars and thrilling activities such as the Sky Walk and Sky Jump. The Sky Walk involves strolling a platform that encircles the tower at a height of 192 meters (629 feet), whereas the Sky Jump is for true adventurers, offering visitors a chance to leap off the Sky Tower while safely suspended by a wire.