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Many visitors use Auckland as the gateway for their North Island exploration. New Zealand’s largest city offers plenty of history, culture, great food and wine, not to mention beautiful beaches, volcanoes, vineyards and small holiday islands.

A good kick off point is to head for the highest point to get your bearings. Here, head 328m up the Sky Tower for unsurpassed wraparound views of up to 80 km in every direction. You can even jump off – attached to a bungy cord of course.

Then consider the Botanic Gardens, highly regarded War Memorial Museum or a ferry over to pretty Devonport or Waiheke Island for lunch at Mudbrick Vineyard. The beaches and olive groves here are delightful.

The bustling Britomart waterfront district offers great shopping and enticing restaurants. Nearby is the famous Viaduct harbour and basin, great for yacht watching and home to an amazing array of boats. You can even take a trip on an America’s Cup yacht or head out to Hauraki Gulf Marine Park to spot whales and dolphins.

Activity buffs head to the Waitakere Ranges while the west coast, with its black volcanic sand beaches at Muriwai, Bethells, Piha and Karekare, appeal to a more relaxed crowd.