Auckland, New Zealand
Visiting Auckland: The City with Fifty VolcanoesSpread across the North Island and touching both of the coasts of New Zealand, Auckland has earned the recognition as the third most livable city in the world for its access to not only a vibrant city life, but also for its access to adventure. After all, Auckland is surrounded by fifty volcanoes, which at one point were a point of natural defense for the native Maori's fortified villages.
Today, these volcanoes are rather unlikely to erupt, and instead of providing defense for Aucklanders, they now are the link between modern-day New Zealand and its cultural heritage. Rather than moving along through old museums in the city center, Auckland's volcanoes give you the chance to have a physical idea of what life was once like in New Zealand. Not only that, you'll be able to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, from bungee to cave exploring to white-water rafting.
For a mix of history, adventure, and breath-taking views, the top three volcanoes to visit are:
In the depths of the Hauraki Gulf, you'll find the symbolic volcano of Auckland: Rangitoto. This volcano is New Zealand's youngest volcano, and it offers plenty of adventure on its own. Explore the volcano's Pohutukawa forest to reach the summit, where you'll be able to get a unique view of the Gulf and the city.
Along the way to the top, you'll also be able to explore old holiday cottages that date back to the early 1900s. These cottages, called "baches," are the last remnant of Kiwi-leisure time culture, and they are now protected landmarks.
North Head/Maungauika and Mount Victoria/Takarunga
Protecting the entrance of the inner harbor, you'll find North Head and Mount Victoria. These two volcanoes were traditionally important to the Maori as a line of defense, and today, they still have some of the most stunning views of the region. Not only that, the nearby bay is the best swimming spot in the city.
Between the two volcanoes, you'll find the Davenport village with plenty of places to grab a bite to eat as well as the oldest purpose-built cinema in the region, the Vic.
For those who enjoy military history, you can also find many of the historical military installations and tunnels on the historical reserve as well as the National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy.
To the south of Auckland lies the Pukekawa volcanic core. This volcano is home to the Auckland War Memorial Museum, which commemorates those who died during World War I as well as Maori culture. Here, you'll be able to find two galleries devoted to Maori artwork, and you will also be able to enjoy cultural performances and tours.
In addition to this museum, you can enjoy a lovely afternoon in The Domain, the oldest park in Auckland. This park is filled with walking tracks, a sculpture trail, and winter gardens.
How to Visit the Volcanoes
To get the most out of visiting Auckland and the surrounding natural landscape, you'll have the best luck squeezing in everything on your To-Do List by renting a car. Road trips in New Zealand give you complete access to these volcanoes as well as the feeling of complete freedom that should come with taking adventurous trips to the natural world.
To learn more about how to organize your self-drive tour itinerary to visit Auckland, The Road Trip has you covered. With pre-organized itineraries made for solo travelers, you'll be able to have the ease of having a tour made for you without having to deal with the restrictions of a traditional tour group.