Multi-cultural city; incredible natural wonders
Auckland, on New Zealand's North Island, is a multi-cultural hub of food and wine, art and culture, with incredible natural wonders on its doorstep. There's plenty to see and do in the heart of the city, but traveling further afield opens the opportunities considerably. Visit the west coast's volcanic black-sand beaches. Explore and photograph villages in the Waitakere Ranges. Sample the bounty of the region, which is ideal for growing grapes and olives. You’ll have the chance to meet local farmers and producers who introduce you to their day-to-day lives and share a tasting or a meal—one of the best ways to experience a new place.
Note: On select departure dates this may run as either a pre- or post-voyage extension. Please call for details.
Arrive today in Auckland, where you are met at the airport and transferred to the Sky City Grand Hotel (or similar), our home for three nights. New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland is also the largest Polynesian city in the world and the most multi-cultural, with over 180 different ethnic groups. All of which adds up to one big, bustling, cosmopolitan and vibrant place—built on the remains of 50 volcanoes. After an early lunch at our hotel, we have a guided overview of the city, seeing the iconic Sky Tower; views of Viaduct Harbour, which is full of super yachts and lined with bars and cafes; and Auckland Domain, the city’s oldest park, based around an extinct volcano and home to the Auckland volcanic field. The late afternoon and evening are at leisure for independent activities. (L)
To experience a country is to share a meal with local residents. While Auckland may be the largest city in New Zealand, the land around it is some of the most fertile in the country, making it the perfect place to grow vegetables, raise stock, and produce delicious fruit. Today you’ll meet local farmers, growers, and producers who introduce you to their day-to-day lives and welcome you to their properties. As you travel from place to place, your guide will collect ingredients to bring back to Vineyard Cottages for our lunch. The owner, Elle, greets us and gives us a personal tour of her vineyard and vegetable garden. Elle has also arranged an olive oil tasting from a local grove with some stone oven baked breads. While the grills are on for lunch to be prepared, you may enjoy the views from the veranda or join in with the preparation of lunch. (B,L)
Today we explore and photograph Auckland’s wild west coast and the Waitakere Ranges. We begin in Titirangi, a lovely village situated in the Waitakere foothills above Manukau Harbour. The area has a reputation for bohemianism and is still a hot spot for artists of all kinds. Many well-known painters, photographers, musicians, writers, and poets have called Titirangi home. We soak in the village’s relaxed atmosphere and cafe culture and visit the Gallery at Lopdell House.
Continue to the Waitakere Ranges via the aptly named Scenic Drive, stopping at the Arataki Visitor Centre, perched high on the ridgeline where there are epic views of both coasts. The Centre also has displays of the area’s fauna and flora and early settler’s lifestyle.
Next, we drive to Piha—one of New Zealand’s most iconic black-sand beaches. With its rugged scenery, strong surf, and laid-back atmosphere, Piha is popular with the local Kiwis. We have grand views over Lion Rock right down the coast and have time at the nearby Waitakere Ranges Regional Park to walk through the subtropical native rainforest that grows right down to the edge of the sea. To top off our Kiwi experience, we have lunch at the “Bowler”—the bowling club where all the locals go. Return to the city and transfer to the airport for flights home. (B, L)
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