Jumping off New Zealand's tallest tower, volcanoes, jumping off a bridge, climbing a bridge, islands, abseiling and kayaking, wildlife, city streets and more - I had one jam packed week at Base Backpackers in Auckland, New Zealand - here is my Top 10 things to do!
1. AJ Hackett Bungy Jump & Harbour Bridge Climb
Did you know that Auckland Harbour Bridge is actually made up of 3 bridges? The bridge was so popular when it first opened that two 'clip on' side lanes were connected to the main bridge.
The bridge is a fantastic viewing point of Auckland City and surrounds and the team at AJ Hackett ensured that I was a newly appointed expert of the history and geography of the Auckland region. The climb was exhilarating - especially when we ascended above the traffic.
Bungy Jumping is on the top of most backpacker's to do list. I've done three bungy jumps now and I must admit - each one never becomes less scary than the last. Auckland Bridge plays a significant role in the history of Bungy Jumping - AJ Hackett was arrested here in 1987 for jumping off the bridge when the sport was 'not technically legal.' The views are amazing and make sure you ask for an ocean dip!
2. Auckland Sea Kayak Adventure to Rangititio Island
If you consider yourself adventurous like myself, then this tour is a must!
Rangitito Island is Auckland's largest and most recent volcano. The island is uninhabited by humans and the summit offers 360 degree views of Auckland city and surrounding islands and beaches.
The sunset kayaking adventure departs mid afternoon and has you kayaking 5km from the mainland to Rangitito. A gourmet BBQ dinner is served on the island before embarking on a one hour hike to the viewing platform at the summit. We watched the sunset over the city skyline before kayaking back to the mainland at night - this is an amazing experience - the ocean is quiet, the stars are vivid and the city lights are stunning!
3. Sky Tower, SkyJump & SkyWalk
New Zealand's tallest tower offers great photo opportunities of the city. SkyTower entry is cheap but if you are looking for views with a thrill - opt for the SkyWalk or SkyJump!
The SkyWalk has you walking around the Sky Tower on a platform with no rails (you are harnessed of course). The guides encourage you to lean over the edge and try various techniques that will have your heart pumping.
The SkyJump is absolutely terrifying but I loved every bit of it! A harness is attached to your back as you are walked to the very edge of the platform, overlooking the city streets below. Every inch of me was shaking as I took that tiny yet terrifying step off the edge...
4. Canyoning in Piha
'Canyoning' is a sport which includes abseiling, cliff jumping, swimming, sliding and climbing through canyons, waterfalls and pools. Piha is located just over an hour from Auckland and is home to a beautiful rainforest. This was a fantastic day out with a touch of fear - it was hard to believe that I was just one hour from the city.
5. Mt Eden
Or in Maori - Maungawhau - means 'mountain of the Whau tree.' Mt Eden is a volcano and its summit it 196km above sea level, which means - great views of the city. It is the highest natural vantage point in Auckland and its main, yet strange feature - is the crater dome at the very top.
This is a fast and fun way to explore Auckland's Waitemata Harbour! The trip takes just 40 minutes as you zoom around at 100 km/hr!
7. Swim with Sharks at Auckland SEALIFE Aquarium
Kelly Tarton's SEALIFE Aquarium in Auckland is home to Great White Sharks! There are two shark experiences to choose from: snorkel in a cage or scuba dive cageless alongside these majestic creatures.
If you would rather view the sharks from afar - there are 30 live animal exhibits to visit, including Seahorse Kingdom, gigantic Stingrays & Penguin Discovery.
8. Cycle the city
Adventure Capital in Auckland offer Guided or Self Guided bike tours of Auckland. This is a great and cheap way to explore the city. Ponsonby is a favoured city suburb amongst tourists and locals - alternative feel with bars, restaurants and shops, a bike ride along the harbour towards the bridge is scenic and if you're up for a long but rewarding bike ride - Mission Bay is a buzzing little beach side suburb 8km from the city.
9. Take a ferry to Waiheke Island or Devonport
Devonport is a scenic, harbour side suburb of Auckland that is located on the very north shore. It is a popular spot for both locals and tourists... check out the little shops and grab a beer at waterside bar or lunch or dinner.
Waiheke Island is famous for its many wineries and hidden beaches. Ferries take 40 minutes from Auckland. Either travel to the wineries by local bus, or the Base Travel Desk can book you a tour.
10. Travel North
The Northland region is home to the Bay of Islands - a region made up of 144 islands! You can book a hop on hop off bus tour at the Base Travel Desk which will take you to all of the sights along the way: Whangarei, Goat Island Marine Reserve, Kauri Forest and Waitangi - the cultural and historical town and the birthplace of New Zealand.
Alternatively, ask the Base Travel Desk to organise a campervan for you - I'd suggest at least 5 days toexplore all that the region has to offer.
Paihia is the most popular spot for backpackers to stay in the Bay of Islands. To check out the Base Backpackers in the bay, go to: www.stayatbase.com/hostels/new-zealand-hostels/base-bay-of-islands
Base Auckland offer a number of Cheap Deals that include both your accommodation and tours. To view: www.stayatbase.com/packages/cheap-deals/base-auckland