hot air balloons

Explore More: Auckland by Land, Air, and Sea

Urban life in a world-class modern city like Auckland offers the best opportunities to pursue one’s goals, not to mention the beautiful conveniences and amenities of living in the big city. Yet the daily grind can quickly turn into an exhausting, vitality-sapping mode of existence. If you want to enliven your senses and renew your energy, here are some ways to explore the city’s surroundings:

Over land

Break out the family Volvo or your personal all-terrain SUV and head out along one of the many scenic drives around Auckland. If you’ve got time for an hour or two on the road, you can swing north by the Hibiscus Coast, Pakiri, or Omaha beaches. Or head west by way of the appropriately-named Scenic Drive, through the Waitakere Ranges and onto Piha, Bethells, Karekare, or Muriwai. A southbound route offers sprawling green fields and the Manukau Heads Lighthouse at the end.

While you’re at it, make the most of your day trip and bring along some friends. Road trips are best when the journey is a shared, memorable experience. Whether you plan on chilling by the beach or having a picnic in the shadow of the mountains, the journey matters more than the destination. Also, at least you’ll have a lot more footage to show for it.

To the skies

If you’re up for a bit of a thrill mixed with serene views of the surrounding countryside and aren’t afraid of heights, try riding a hot air balloon. Kiwi Balloon Company in nearby Hamilton offers this unique experience as you float in tranquil early morning silence across the city and enjoy views of the nearby mountains and lakes from a great perspective.

With a balloon ride, you’ll want to go alone or with a special someone. This isn’t about weight limits, although the carrying capacity is a factor. It’s just that this surreal and beautiful experience is best enjoyed in solitude or with someone dear. Take your partner out for a memorable date, or celebrate a milestone with your best friend. Of course, bring some of your best photography gear because the views are amazing.

Across the sea

girl taking a jump shot

The Hauraki Gulf offers miles of coastline for you to explore, and a variety of activities to suit your tastes. What better way to unwind than to step back and view the City of Sails from aboard a boat? Sometimes this new perspective is all you need to find a greater appreciation for city landmarks, such as the Harbour Bridge and Sky Tower.

While you’ll be able to enjoy the city views from across the water, look for an opportunity to see some unique visitors. A variety of dolphins, whales, and seals may be expected at varying times of the year, along with sharks, turtles, and seabirds. Viewing marine wildlife up close is a fantastic experience and a great way to support conservation efforts, too.

Set aside a few hours from your weekly grind, and you’ll find that Auckland is blessed with a variety of incredible opportunities to relax and take in the splendor of all that surrounds you.

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