Located in the North Island, Auckland is New Zealand’s largest urban area and most populous city. The Māoris called Auckland ‘Tāmaki Makaurau’, meaning a place of love or desire. It is ruggedly beautiful, dotted with black sand beaches, volcanic landscapes and thermal springs. You can climb to the top of Mount Eden, Auckland’s tallest volcanic cone. The crater at the top of the cone is sacred in Māori culture, as it is the ‘food bowl’ of the god of underground creatures. Head to Auckland’s west coast for black sand beaches such as Karekare beach in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park) or Piha beach for surfing or relaxing walks. Although these beaches are located less than an hour away from Auckland’s city centre, you’ll feel half a world away.
In 2018, Auckland was ranked as the third best city in the world for quality of life. As well as the beautiful nature, it has a lively and culturally rich city centre. Head to the city’s weekly markets to experience the vast melting pot of cultures that the city is home to, from Italian meats and cheeses at the Matakana Farmers Market, to the Coatesville Country Market that’s more popular with the locals. Auckland is also home to a fascinating art museum and plenty of great bars and restaurants.