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Auckland Free Walking Tours is a perfect way to explore the history and culture of the city. Friendly and knowledgeable guides take you on a leisurely stroll through the city and regale you with gripping stories of the city's origins. Not only is the tour captivating, it is free and a great way to meet fellow visitors to the city. Although they do not charge for city tours, donations are definitely welcome. Check their website for tour timings and to make bookings.
The Rose Gardens and Dove Myer Robinson Park are sited above Judges Bay, sloping downwards with pleasant shaded pathways and numerous fine old mature trees. There is a great lookout over the harbor and the busy container wharves, from the cliff-top edge. The Rose Gardens contain some 4,500 roses. The Nancy Steen Cottage Garden with old-fashioned roses and white flowers is especially attractive, and occasional outdoor concerts are held here in summer. Note the old stone archway at one end known as the Elephant!
Western Springs, known as Waiorea by Maori, began flowing when lava from Three Kings volcano filled the original stream bed 70,000 years ago. From the late 1870s, Western Springs was the main source of fresh water for Auckland. It was pumped across the city via a huge steam-powered beam engine which is now the centerpiece at neighboring MOTAT (Museum of Transport and Technology). The springs contain a series of freshwater lakes, filled by the still-active springs, which attract a wide range of waterfowl. There is an excellent, large playground in the westernmost corner, over the fence from Auckland Zoo.
Stretching from the cliffs overlooking Maori Bay and the Gannet Colony north to Kaipara Head, Muriwai Beach with its fine black sand is popular with surfers, families, surfcasters and dune buggies. You can drive all the way north, some 40 kilometres, at low tide, but the northern sector is sometimes used as a bombing range by the New Zealand Air Force, so make sure the red flag is not flying! The shop near the main car park has excellent coffee and burgers. There is a camping ground, many pleasant grassy picnic spots with shade, a playground and even a golf course at Muriwai. The beach opens daily at 7:30 a.m.