Taking it easy in AucklandMost of the trip planning research told us that Auckland itself was “just another city” and that the highlights of New Zealand was outside of the city. With that in mind, we planned to spend only one day in Auckland on the itinerary.
Mount Eden VillageWe landed at 8:00am in the morning and took another couple of hours to get to the hotel and settle in before heading out to explore the city. And the best way to start a morning after a long international flight? Brunch! We ordered an Uber and headed to Mount Eden Village, a quaint little suburb less than 10 minutes away from downtown Auckland. The commercial area itself is pretty small – it couldn’t have been more than 5 square blocks, but was lined with interesting bookstores, shops, and cafes (including Circus Circus, which as you could likely guess, a circus-themed cafe). It was a Saturday morning, and by 10am the cafes and restaurants were all very busy already. We ended up picking a bakery cafe off the main street called Olaf.
By the time we settled in, it was closer to lunch than brunch, so we ordered some delicious sandwiches, but more importantly… coffee. I am an unapologetic espresso addict at home; with the jetlag of a 16-hour timezone change, caffeine in my bloodstream was an absolute necessity by this time. Luckily, the lattes were good at Olaf, so good in fact that we ordered another pair of lattes to go when we were finished with lunch. According to Anna, the pastries were super good too.
After satisfying our appetite and addiction needs, we followed a route through the Mt. Eden residential neighbourhood to find the entrance to the Mount Eden Park itself. In the middle of a residential area, the entrance to park was not the most obvious. We checked a couple of times to make sure we were in the right spot before taking the narrow stairs to begin the hike up. It didn’t take too long before the stairs connected to a looping path that ascended to the the scenic top of Mount Eden. An extinct volcano, Mount Eden is the highest natural point in Auckland, with near 360 degree views of the city, and an an enormous, grassy green crater.
Almost an inverse of the rolling green hills seen throughout the New Zealand landscape, it’s hard to imagine Mount Eden’s past as an active volcano. The day was very windy with grey skies hinting at impending rain, it wasn’t the best days for picturesque views of the city, but Mount Eden was still a nice photo spot and likely a nice spot for a picnic on a sunnier day. It’s close to the city, the hike is easy and family-friendly, and free. Definitely worth a visit for a couple of hours along with the village for those visiting Auckland.
We hiked back down Mount Eden and took an Uber back towards downtown where we explored the Auckland Viaduct. The immediate reaction when we got to the areas was… home. The area was very reminiscent of Vancouver’s downtown harbour area, except there were more sailing boats than cruise ships. There were a lot of interesting restaurants and bars in the area, but not being hungry, we opted to just walk around the harbour and enjoyed the views of the water.
By the late afternoon the kids started to get tired (remember, we just flew in that morning!) so we headed back to the hotel for a bit of a break and dinner. The real adventure on the itinerary would start the next day.