For many travellers, Auckland is the main gateway to New Zealand. The country's biggest city boasts a thriving city centre, world-class cuisine, stunning natural landscapes, and a vibrant art and culture scene -- making it a dazzling getaway destination.
In recent times, the stunning city has been applauded by enthusiasts across the globe for its cultural and sporting events, brand new hotels, and exciting visitor experiences -- there's no doubt that Auckland should be in the spotlight.
Make sure you add these exciting stops to your Auckland visit:
* Visit the Sky Tower: This Kiwi city is home to the second tallest freestanding building in the southern hemisphere -- the Sky Tower. At 328m high, this iconic Auckland attraction offers 360 degree views up to 80km across the city and Waitemata Harbour. Not satisfied with views alone? Venture beyond the glass walls to embark on the Sky Walk, a spectacular walk around the edge of the tower 192 metres up. Or go even further, and leap off the edge with a Sky Jump!
* Walk across the Auckland Harbour Bridge: The Auckland Harbour Bridge has been a stalwart on the Auckland horizon since 1959, offering a connection between the North Shore and the city centre (and a gorgeous light display at night, thanks to 90,000 LED lights!).
Take advantage of its amazing vantage point from which to see the city with AJ Hackett Bungy's Auckland Bridge Climb, a two-hour guided expedition that is the only way you can cross the bridge on foot. Or if you're really brave, leap off the edge with Auckland's only bungy -- a 40m drop perfect for thrill seekers. You can even dip your head in the ocean!
* Take a wine tour on Waiheke Island: Just a short 40-minute journey from the Auckland ferry terminal awaits an island paradise packed with over 30 boutique vineyards, stunning white sand beaches, and scenic native bush and coastal walking tracks. Food and wine enthusiasts will be delighted with the array of wineries, cellar doors and award-winning restaurants on the island. Get a taste of many of them with a Waiheke Custom Wine Tour, which covers the iconic Cable Bay, Casita Miro, Ki Maha, Mudbrick and many more.
Adventure seekers are well catered for too -- EcoZip Adventures will have you zooming across the vines and forest canopies while enjoying views back to the city and beyond. Want to stay for more than a day? Book a night at the luxurious Delamore Lodge, or find your inner zen with a retreat (or forest bathing experience) at Terra & Tide.
* Immerse yourself in rugby with the All Blacks Experience: This is a must-do experience even if you're not a rugby fan! A partnership between New Zealand Rugby and Ngai Tahu Tourism, the All Blacks Experience guided encounter will immerse you in the story of New Zealand's rugby history and the mighty All Blacks.
You'll get to experience the passion behind the celebrated All Blacks haka up close and personal, and even try your hand (or foot) at the game yourself in an interactive zone.
* Breathe in the salty air at West Coast beaches: If you have the time, a visit to one of Auckland's formidable West Coast beaches is an absolute must-do. You'll feel completely invigorated by the wild surf, fresh ocean air, and dramatic, remote landscapes.
Piha, Muriwai, and Te Henga (Bethells) beaches are three of the most popular west coast beaches to visit, all offering black sand and walking tracks. During August to April, 1,200 gannet pairs nest on the Muriwai clifftop, and there are plenty of activities -- like surf lessons, a golf club, and mountain bike hire.
Open up to endless memorable experiences by visiting the city of dreams, Auckland. [IANS/JS]