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New Zealand: discovering the North Island

January 2, 2017

Auckland

 

Due to a massive jetlag I was awake after two hours of sleep and roaming the streets of Auckland at 6 A.M.... 

But on the other hand I was very happy to see the beautiful morning glow on the Auckland Ferry Terminal which was completed in 1912.

 

 

To get rid of the jetlag and to recover from the 40+ hour journey it's good to start the day with a strong cup of coffee! ;-)

 

I discovered this cute coffee bar downtown Auckland with a great piece of art!

 

 

The Auckland Art Gallery is definitely worth a visit (which is free by the way). Their purpose is to be a place for art and a catalyst for ideas.

 

Mojo is their spacious and sunny Café which is overlooking Albert Park. 

 

The building is a typical example of 'old meets new'. 

Old part of the gallery:

 

 

New part of the gallery:

 

 

Hotel DeBrett has got a cosy café with many old posters at the wall. It is a good place to sit at the window at the end of the day and drink a glass of wine while contemplating the day.

 

The hotel has a long and colourful history. Built as The Commercial Hotel in 1841 as one of Auckland’s first hotels. It survived two fires, and two rebuilds, before the current building was erected in 1925.

 

 

You can view the city from 220 metres above street level at the top of the Sky Tower.

I only looked at it from 1,74 metres above street level ;-)

 

Are you a daredevil and do you want to experience sky jumping? Then this is the place to be! You will fall 192 metres straight down (every day from 10 AM to 6 PM). I wish you luck!

 

 

Albert Park is close to the Art Gallery and is a nice place to sit in the grass and relax a bit. There are beautiful old trees (dating from the 1880s) and views over the surrounding buildings.

 

 

What I liked the most about the Auckland Museum (25 NZ Dollar entrance fee) was the Maori collection. I was impressed by the wood carved sculptures.

 

 

In Auckland there are many options to eat healthy food, Wise Cicada is one of them. The meals offered at the cafe are vegan, organic and always nourishing. Looking for raw, gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, egg free cakes and slices? Don't look any further :-)  

 

 

Auckland has got many beautiful old buildings. And sometimes it felt a bit like I was in New York.

 

 

Around Auckland

 

Close to Bethells Beach is Lake Wainamu (50 minutes drive from Auckland). You can follow the small Waiti stream or walk over the sand dunes. Be aware that the sand can be very hot in the afternoon, so we decided to walk back through the stream. It's refreshing and a great experience for children as well!

 

 

 
View from the top of the sand dunes over Lake Wainamu:

 

 

Piha is one of the most popular beaches in the area of Waitakere Ranges and a major day-trip destination for Aucklanders throughout the year, and especially in summer for surfing. Piha has a well known black sand beach, due to the high iron content, which is of volcanic origin.

 

Lion Rock (in the back of the following picture) is a natural formation dividing North and South Piha beaches. From the beach near the Lion’s tail, there is a track which ascends up his back to a grassy lookout on his shoulders.

 

       'Running water never grows stale, so you just have to keep on flowing' - Bruce Lee

 

 

Piha is surrounded by the Waitakere Regional Parkland so there are plenty of walks in all directions. You can pick up a map at either of the noticeboards at Glen Esk – which is the main entry point into the parkland – and at North Piha. They usually have some copies at the Library and West Coast Gallery too.

 

I stayed for two weeks in Piha because my sister lives there with her family. So we had lots of time to discover these beautiful hikes :-)

 

The Tasman Lookout Track is a steep track with some steps ascending cliffs at the southern end of Piha Beach. At the top, a short branch to the right leads to a lookout point over Piha and Taitomo Island. The track continues around the cliff-top to a second lookout overlooking The Gap.

 

 

During the 45 minute walk you will see this beautiful bay as well. We walked down at low tide so we could take a look at the gap. Please be careful during high tide, it can be very dangerous.

 

 

Golden hour...

This is the view at Lion Rock from my sisters veranda.

It almost took my breath away!

 

 

Mercer Bay Loop Walk is a track which makes its way along the top of the highest sea cliffs in the Auckland region and provides great views north towards Muriwai and south to Whatipu.

 

 

 

There is also a great walk in the north of Piha with different vegetation.

 

 

For me the first time ever 'inside' a tree!

 

 

Walking my sisters dog in these magnificent surroundings never gets dull.

 

 

The Piha Cafe serves fantastic pies, cakes, pizza and a lot more.

It's a great place where many locals meet.

 

 

The coolest mailbox I have ever seen! :-)

 

 

The Coromandel Peninsula is located on the Pacific Coast Highway - on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island, and is within an hour and a half drive of the major centres of Auckland, Hamilton and Rotorua. The peninsula is steep and hilly, and is largely covered in temperate rainforest. It is renowned for its pristine beaches, misty forests and laid-back vibes. It is one of New Zealand's most popular holiday destinations.

 

Sweeping views while on the road to The Coromandel:

 

 

We stayed in the area of Matarangi where you kan make a nice walk in the scenic reserve to the Vodafone tower.  We had dinner at Luke's Kitchen where you can enjoy good food in a relaxed atmosphere. 

 

 

I ended my trip in a place that looked like paradise before I went home.....

 

 

 

 

 

 

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