Beautiful natural scenery and sights, fun water-based activities, top-notch shopping, addictive nightlife, amazing food, and so much more: Just because you only have a short time in New Zealand's most impressive city doesn't mean that you should miss out on some of the best things the city has to offer.

Hike a Nearby Volcano

Auckland is home to a whopping four dozen volcanoes! That means no matter where in town you are staying, there is a nearby volcano that you can hike up and enjoy the breathtaking 360-degree view. Don't expect lava flows though -- these volcanoes have erupted only once in history and are now dormant. In fact, most are lush green parks.

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Splash Around With Some Water-Based Fun

Water plays an important part in the weekly life and fun of Auckland residents thanks to the Auckland Bay. Hop a ferry and explore some of the nearby islands. Get your adrenaline pumping with activities like surfing, kayaking, jet-boating, diving, and windsurfing. Or if relaxation is the name of your game, enjoy some peaceful morning fishing or soak up the sun on a beach.

Karekare Beach near Auckland, New Zealand

Insider tip: Nestled in the countryside west of Auckland is Karekare Beach, overlooked by most tourists and much more refreshing than the crowded beaches at the heart of town.

Tingle Your Senses

Unlike anything else I have ever experienced, the Odyssey Sensory Maze is exactly what the name suggests: an invigorating journey that will stimulate all of your senses and leave you wanting more. Each section features unique obstacles, lighting, music, and yes, even smells. There is a jungle zone, a cave zone, a space zone, and...well...you'll just have to discover the rest for yourself.

Read More Offbeat Sights and Activities in Auckland

Learn More About the Māori

Maori man issuing a challenge at a cultural show at Rotarua, New Zealand
Photo courtesy of Peter Mackey

The Polynesian settlers who originally settled in New Zealand became known as the Māori. Their rich cultural history shaped and still plays a part in New Zealand culture, despite making up only 15% of the country's population. Learn more about the Māori by visiting one of Auckland's many museums, art galleries, or cultural attractions.

Enjoy the Best Auckland Has to Offer

Certain things always tend to be better in big metropolises, primarily shopping, nightlife, and food. Thankfully, Auckland excels at all three. If it's shopping you crave, there are numerous hotspots around town, such as Queen Street, Ponsonby, Newmarket, the Britomart Precinct, and of course Takapuna up on the North Shore.

When it comes to nightlife, many of the same areas known for spectacular shopping are always home to the city's best bars and clubs. Britomart is a popular favorite with both locals and foreigners, but Ponsonby and Parnell are where the stars shine. However, there are also other offbeat after dark Auckland areas, such as K Road and High Street.

As far as great food, that can be found throughout the city. Just ask a local! Or check out this list of the Top 50 Restaurants in Auckland.

Ready to visit yet? Just make sure to find a cheap Auckland hotel, and put all that money you save to good use having fun around town!

Published in New Zealand

The destinations and the sights may change but the hotels rarely do. It's easy to get bored with mundane, predictable hotels, even if you are not a frequent traveler. After all, there is no reason the experience at your hotel should not be as rewarding as the destination itself. With the following quirky, offbeat and just downright amazing Auckland accommodations, visitors will be writing home about the hotels instead of the city itself.

The Shakespeare Hotel & Brewery

The Shakespeare Hotel & Brewery in Auckland, New Zealand

One of the best things about traveling is sampling new foods and the local beer. Thankfully whoever is behind the Shakespeare Hotel & Brewery made a bold but smart move and combined the two in New Zealand's first brewpub and hotel. Adding to Shakespeare's charm is the fact that it is located right in the heart of Auckland and is one of the best budget hotel options in all of town. In fact it is quite easy to spend more here on beer than you will on your room. But don't worry, that's a good thing -- their craft brews are delicious!

Ponsonby Manor Guest House

Ponsonby in West Auckland is one of the cities most iconic and intriguing suburbs. The area has a rich and vivid history but nowadays is known for its shopping, cafes, art galleries and nightclubs. Situated right in the center of all that action is Ponsonby Manor, the perfect place to stay if you want to enjoy the colorful neighborhood without breaking the bank. This Victorian manor has been around for over 150 years but has been repeatedly renovated to keep it modern. Each of the rooms is unique and, just like any good manor, Ponsonby has a garden, communal kitchen, television room and of course a barbecue area. A great way to escape the traditional hotels and live in a more local environment.

Riverside Matakana

Matakana Village is one of Auckland's most well-known and well-loved destinations located just outside of the big city. It is also great wine country. It is here that the immaculate Riverside Matakana luxury resort occupies 40 acres along the Glen Eden River. They offer private bungalows that are surprisingly affordable and the ultimate in relaxation. While in town be sure to visit the weekly Matakana Market every Saturday and definitely indulge in some wine tasting. Vineyard tours are available and come highly recommended!

MacKenzie Farmstay

For a truly unique experience, head one hour north of Auckland to MacKenzie Farmstay in Matamata. There you can enjoy a tranquil stay on a working farm surrounded by 30 acres of rolling farmland filled with sheep, cattle, goats and horses. Take the five-minute ride into town to spend the day exploring boutique cafes and visit the Hobbiton movie set, the filming location the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit.

These are my favorite offbeat accommodation options in Auckland but which ones have I missed? Feel free to comment with your suggestions below!

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Published in New Zealand

Auckland is one of the most fun and most beautiful cities in the world. It is also a very popular tourist destination. However sometimes the most rewarding experiences can be found when you escape the tourist crowds and blaze your own trail and get off the beaten path. That having been said, here are my picks for the best offbeat sights and activities in Auckland, New Zealand.

The Auckland skyline -- and boatline
Photo via Trover

Odyssey Sensory Maze

Unlike anything else I have ever experienced, the Odyssey Sensory Maze is exactly what the name suggests: an invigorating journey that will stimulate all of your senses and leave you wanting more. It only takes about 30 minutes to travel through this diverse collection of differently themed sections, each distinctly different from the one before it. Each section features unique obstacles, lighting, music and yes, even smells. There is a jungle zone, a cave zone, a space zone, and...well...you'll just have to discover the rest for yourself.

Tiritiri Matangi Island

Tiritiri Matangi Island, Auckland, New Zealand
Photo via Trover

Island-hopping in the Hauraki Gulf is a popular pastime but many tourists -- even native Aucklanders -- never make it past Rangitoto and Waiheke islands. Yes, Tiritiri Matangi is a bit further away than those two (a 75-minute ferry ride), however the trip is more than worth it. This wildlife sanctuary is home to nearly a hundred different species of birds and therefore a must for both nature lovers and ornithologists alike. Plus if you don't want to go alone you can easily join a Tiritiri tour.

Matakana Village Market, Auckland, New Zealand
Photo by Nayika via Trover

Glenbrook Vintage Railway

Take a trip back in time by visiting the Glenbrook Vintage Railway. It's nearly an hour south of the city but you'll feel a world away! Come early and learn about the classic trains and the history of the railway from local volunteers before riding the train up to Waiuku. The train carriages are all perfectly restored and in immaculate condition. They even have open-air carriages that are perfect for capturing amazing photographs of the countryside. After arriving in Waiuku you can spend the day exploring and then either catch the return train to Glenbrook or continue back up to Auckland.

Matakana Village

Located about 45 minutes north of the city, there is so much to do in here that you could easily turn a Matakana day-trip into a 3 or 4 day mini vacation. The village is most known for its Farmers' Market every Saturday, however there is much more to explore than just that. From dozens of vineyards and countless boutique restaurants and family owned B&Bs, Matakana is an amazing place that is always hard to leave.

Karekare Beach

Auckland and the surrounding area has no shortage of beaches, however Karekare is completely overlooked by most foreign tourists. The result is a pristine beach nestled in the countryside with virtually no signs of life around it. It is the perfect location for a relaxing day-trip or a brief escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city. The black sand gets incredibly hot in the afternoon sun, so this destination is best visited early in the day. Plus if you get bored with the beach just follow the trail through the lush vegetation and you will be rewarded with some spectacular waterfalls.

Karekare Beach Beach, Auckland, New Zealand
Photo by Umar via Trover

Regardless of how you decide to spend your time, you are sure to find cheap hotels in Auckland. Then you can use the money you save to enjoy some of these offbeat Auckland activities!

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Published in New Zealand

Most of the residents of New Zealand live in Auckland and not without reason. Auckland is amazing! You never get bored. Not even when you're on a budget and staying in Auckland. So here the five things you should do for free in Auckland:

The Gallery of Modern Art / Auckland Museum

For culture you have to be in Auckland. Enough museums to visit and the Auckland Museum and The Gallery of Modern Art are even for free. The Auckland Musuem teaches you about the Maoris and the history of New Zealand, plus even has a section about the amazing flora and fauna and information about volcanoes with a real simulation room; how would it feel to experience a real earthquake. Pretty cool!

Auckland Museum

The Gallery of Modern Art is the opposite of the Auckland Museum and focuses more on experimental art. So if you like art with a sharp edge? Than you should certaintly go to the Gallery of Modern Art.

Visit one of the many volcanoes that Auckland has to offer

Yes, Auckland has enough volcanoes to satisfy everyone -- approximately 50! So search for a volcano near you and enjoy the view. Some top volcanoes in Auckland are Mount Eden and One Tree Hill (U2 even wrote a song about this one). You have a beautiful view over the city and even at night it's a nice sight to see with all the lights. And who doesn't like lights, right!

Dive in the nature

Also the big city Auckland has a lot to offer when it comes to nature. Nature here in New Zealand is never far away. Go to Mission Bay to enjoy the sun and the ocean off to Waikere Ranges where you can enjoy a nice walk or a nice "barbie" (barbecue) with your friends. Lot of hiking trails to keep you busy all year long

Discover the harbour

The harbor has a lot to offer and there's a lot to see. Enjoy the beautful blue waters or visit the information center of head for the Wynyard Quarter where you can see amazing, big, luxurious yachts.

Auckland Harbor

There is always something going on over there, or just enjoy the New Zealand cafe culture. Or just relax in the grass. Everything is possible in the harbor.

Visit one of the different markets that Auckland has to offer

The French Market, the Fish Market, Victoria Market... Auckland has a lot of markets and all are within easy reach. What better way to spend a saturday? Especially the French Market in Parnell is worth to pay a visit. Try all the different free french foods. What more do you want?

Have any additional suggestions?

Which is your favorite?

Published in New Zealand

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