A great city with rainforests and volcanoes on the doorstep, Auckland ticks all the boxes, from fine cuisine and culture, to wildlife and wilderness.

Auckland is framed by the mountains on one side, and the coast on the other, with the Waitakere Ranges to the west, Manukau Harbour to the south-west and Hauraki Gulf and islands to the east. But, before you think about what's outside the city, there are plenty of sights inside to occupy your time. Head for the Sky Tower in the heart of the city centre and take the glass lift that scales its 220 metres. The view from the top is impressive to say the least, offering a stunning panorama of the city, harbour and nearby mountains.

Auckland itself was originally built around a number of extinct volcanoes. The suburb of Mount Eden, for example, was built right on the side of a cone. A climb to the top of this cone is rewarded with a staggering view down its 50-metre crater. The volcanic soil and natural springs provided by Pukekawa volcano, meanwhile, allow the gardens at Auckland Domain, to truly flourish. A trip to the city's oldest park should be on the itinerary for any nature enthusiast, while the Auckland War Memorial Museum, also located in the Domain, at its highest point, is a major draw for those interested in learning about both the area's natural history and the history and culture of the Maori people.

If you prefer your nature a little more immediate, try a trip to the award-winning Auckland Zoo. With over 138 different species, including rhinos, cheetahs and a rare chance to see the elusive kiwi, this is a great day out for families in particular.

For those who do want to get out of the city, it usually makes sense to rent a car. Alternatively, you could head to Viaduct Harbour, where most of the city's most fabulous boats and yachts are moored. Stop in at one of the many bars and restaurants dotted along the water for a bite to eat before hopping a boat to Waiheke Island. Just 40 minutes away, this is a great spot for tramping, and home to some of the finest beaches in the area.

For those who take their tramping activities a little more seriously, there are plentiful trails for varying levels in the Waitakere Ranges situated behind the city. These include the popular and challenging Hillary Trail: 75 kilometres over 4 days, with 3 nights of camping. If this seems like a little too much activity for you, you can always hop onto one of the many tour buses and coaches that offer day trips through the hills, or even rent a car and discover the area for yourself.

Guide to Exploring Auckland

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