Auckland has become an important part in my life, mainly because of the six months I spent there living and working during my year long round the world trip.
Spending time there meant that I got to see and do a lot of things that a few days would never cover. However if you were to spend only a few days in the city I fully recommend doing some or all of my top six must-do things to do in Auckland.
A visit to the city's zoo is a must for any visit. Located in the suburb of Western Springs, it is easily reached by bus from the Britomart Bus Station in the centre of Auckland.
It is one of the only zoos in the world that I've been where you feel up close and personal with the animals, none more so than those can can choose to do a behind the scenes tour with.
We opted for the primates tour, which allowed us into the Lemur enclosure first. Whilst the guide talked us through the habits of their Lemurs we held out pieces of food as they came down from the trees and took them right out of our hands.
We also got to hand feed the cotton-headed tamarins which though initially wary of us, they were jumping on arms and shoulders in the end thrying to get as many as the tiny mealworms that we had to offer.
Our timing in taking the tour was perfect as they were trialing a new animal meet and greet which were their two cheetahs. Being able to sit beside and stroke a cheetah as if it were just like a domestic cat was something that I will always treasure.
On our last trip we spared twenty minutes for a talk on the natural fauna of New Zealand where we got to see a Kiwi Bird, not normally seen in daylight.
The one thing I love about Auckland Zoo is its educational value. There are loads of talks throughout the day if you catch them and you leave feeling you have learned a little more about the animals on show.
North Shore Bays
Across the harbour from the city lies the bays of the North Shore. We are lucky that we have a few friends who have been able to show us around these little towns that otherwise we wouldn't have know about.
When we returned recently we headed off on our own for a coastal walk starting off in Mairangi Bay. Heading north along the cliffside walkway you are afforded great views out towards the extinct volcano of Rangitito Island.
Skirting through Murrays Bay and Rothesay Bay the final stretch took us along the rocks where the tide was slowly coming in.
We reached our destination of Brown's Bay where we had lunch on the grass verge overlooking the beach. A quick look around the town was called for before we turned around and began the walk back, this time walking through the streets in Rothesay Bay with some fabulous houses along the coast which had great views. One day we thought, one day!
Having a New Zealand Flat White Coffee
One of the great things about New Zealand in general is that the standard of coffee is much greater than back home in the UK.
There also seem to be a lot more independant coffee shops rather than the standard chains we now see in every city across the country. However the quality of a Flat White is excellent wherever you try it.
Made using steamed milk over a shot of espresso topped off with the barrister's art, like a New Zealand fern. I've always been a fan of a milky coffee and then lattes when they appeared on the scene but for me this is the best.
Unfortunately it is appearing in UK coffee shops but not as good as our antipodean relatives, seems like I'm just going to have to back for more.
Eating at the Top of the Sky Tower
You can't fail to see the Sky Tower as it dominates the skyline of Auckland. You can go up to the top just for the views or you can treat yourself to a meal in the revolving restaurant, which we did.
Starting our meal in daylight , we ate as the sun went down and also got to see different parts of the city as the view was constantly changing.
Not only are there spectacular views, but the food was also outstanding. I can safely say I had one of the best pieces of lamb ever here. Though it was a few years ago and the exchange rates have altered the meal alos came in at a reasonable price of $140NZ (£48 at the time).
If you want a treat I would fully recommend eating at the top of the Sky Tower.
Walking in the Waitakere Ranges
To the North West of the city lie the Waitakere Ranges. We visited the area with friends who knew the Ranges better than we would and they took us for a short stroll along one of the many tracks.
Like many tramping tracks in New Zealand you come across some amazing scenery and plants along the way. My particular favourite are the ferns when they are curled up.
Tracks are well marked out and you can easily spend hours just wandering through the forests. We took time out from the walking with a picnic we had packed and enjoyed a well earnt rest before heading off to discover even more of the tracks which are so close to the city.
Taking in the View from Mt Eden
There are many suburbs around Auckland, and Mt Eden was one that we chose to stay in for a couple of months before moving into the city. It's name comes from the dormant volcano that is the highest natural point in Auckland.
Our hostel was a short walk from the bottom, so we made the trip to the top a couple of times. At the top you can more stunning views of Auckland and the surrounding harbour but the weirdest sight was possibly the herd of cows that had somehow managed to get themselves to the bottom of the crater and were busy munching on the grass.
I would also recommend One Tree Hill, another volcano further south with the surrounding Cornwall Park. A great place for a walk, picnic or on a couple of occasions a leisurely jog.
There are many, many more things that I loved doing in Auckland including Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World, Victoria Market, Rangitito Island but if I carry on I'll be here all day.
Most of all I recommend that you go to Auckland and discover for yourself what a wonderful place it is.