CNNGo TV in Auckland: A local's guide to the best of Auckland
These days New Zealand is in sporting heaven, hosting the 2011 Rugby World Cup. But while you can be forgiven for spending some time cheering and shouting at muscle-bound men on a grassy pitch during a visit to its populous city, Auckland, you shouldn't miss the chance to take in the sights too.
CNNGo's roving TV show takes in Auckland this time round, with a host of friendly locals to show us the highlights. Catch the show on the times at the bottom of the page, while we run through a few of the best bits here:
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1. Mount Eden volcano
Looming over the Eden Park rugby ground is Mount Eden, or Maungawhau, a dormant volcano that offers 360-degree views over Auckland.
The volcano cone is Auckland’s highest natural peak, reaching 196 meters. Tour buses were banned in 2006 to prevent further damage to the mountain, so you can either take a city bus, walk, or test your stamina by cycling up.
We biked to the top with radio host and blogger Russell Brown. (Actually, Russell biked. We filmed from the comfort of our car.) But it's worth it. The volcano crater is 50 meters deep and well preserved.
250 Mount Eden Road. The Mount Eden Road and Tahaki Drive entrances to the park both close at 11 p.m. each night and reopen at 7 a.m. www.aucklandcity.govt.nz
2. North Head military tunnels
Back in the late 1870s, someone had the idea that the Russians were set to invade New Zealand.
Fort Cautley was completed in the 1890s, equipped with tunnels, underground storerooms, barracks, guardrooms and kitchens.
But the invasion never happened and the only shots ever heard were ceremonila salutes to mark the Queen’s arrival.
The tunnels at Devenport remain open, a 15-20 minute walk from the North Head ferry terminal looking over the harbor, and with the additions made in anticipatin of World War II, make a fascinating day trip.
Ferries depart from 99 Quay St. in downtown Auckland to Devenport every 30 minutes, and take just 15 minutes. The North Head Reserve is open daily from 6 a.m.-10 p.m.; www.devonport.co.nz
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3. Waiheke Island wine tasting
As one of the New World's wine stars, no trip to New Zealand should miss out on a chance to sample some vintages.
So when Nadia Lim, New Zealand's latest "MasterChef," suggested a bit of wine tasting on Waiheke Island, she didn't have to twist our arms too far.
New Zealand is world-renowned for its gorgeous Sauvignon Blancs and Cabernet Sauvignons. Go to the source and experience the vineyards at Waiheke, just 17 kilometers from Auckland, in the Hauraki Gulf.
4. Otara Markets
Auckland is home to more Pacific Islanders than any other city in the world.
Samoan-born comedian/actor Oscar Kightley took us to sample the culture at the world's biggest Maori and Polynesian market, which takes over the Otara Town Centre car park in South Auckland every Saturday.
The history-rich market dates back to 1976. As Oscar puts it, "It's everything from cheap socks and fatty food to authentic traditional carvings and handicrafts."
Newbury Street, Otara; About 25 kilometers southeast of Auckland city center via the Southern Motorway (Highway 1); +64 9 274 0830; www.welcome2manukau.co.nz. The markets are open from 7 a.m.-noon, every Saturday
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5. Britomart District
Kiwi musician, and now jewelry designer, Boh Runga, wanted to show us the changing waterfront area.
Specifically, we set our sights on the Britomart district, which lies between the Waitemata Harbour and Auckland’s CBD. The district is named after the 1840s Royal Navy warship, the HMS Britomart.
Until the late 19th century much of the Britomart area was underwater. After being reclaimed in the 1880s, the land was used as an industrial district, with a railway station and warehouses.
Now, this waterfront precinct is home to heritage buildings, modern restaurants and bars, open public spaces, funky galleries and hip boutiques, and sits conveniently next to Auckland’s transport hub, the Britomart Transportation Centre.
6. Bethells Beach
We rounded off our week in Auckland with a trip to one of the world's most spectacular beaches.
Famed Kiwi designer Karen Walker traveled with us to rugged and awe-inspiring Bethells Beach. The black sand, towering cliffs and pounding waves -- as well as the Bethells Beach Cafe -- all lived up to Karen's billing.
Approximately 30 kilometres northwest of Auckland City, on the Tasman Sea, locals and tourists come here to surf, skim board, fish, ride horses and generally chill out. It’s unspoilt (which also means no petrol stations or shops) and beautiful.
Take Scenic Drive, then Te Henga Road which takes you to Bethells Road and to Te Henga Beach about 30 kilometers from Auckland CBD; www.arc.govt.nz
Here's an unscaled map to get around Bethells: