I am back home in Auckland, New Zealand for Christmas and New Year with my parents. I am very fortunate that they live on Auckland’s Waitamata waterfront in the coastal suburb of St Heliers. Their apartment looks directly across the water to Rangitoto Island which is a beautiful conical-shaped extinct volcano that dominates the inner harbour. One of the things I love most about Auckland Harbour is that you can see Rangitoto from any vantage point along the waterfront.
Auckland’s Waitamata Harbour must be one of the most beautiful Harbours in the world – I’d say it even outshines Sydney’s Harbour (but for the Opera House). It is no wonder that New Zealand has world champion sailors as the harbour is a huge playground for multiple water sports. On any given day you will see kite surfers, kayakers, stand-up paddlers, swimmers and the harbour dotted with sail boats and motor boats. Triathlons have become very popular here so it is common to see 30-40 swimmers doing their water training or competing in races down at the local beach. Kiwis are pretty hardy types as you’ll find the water in NZ is quite cold, even in the Summer. I have been too spoilt by the warm waters of Malaysia, Thailand, Mexico and Hawaii, so I rarely swim in my home country.
My favourite thing about returning to Auckland in November-December is the native Pohutukawa tree being in bloom. The Pohutukawa is known as New Zealand’s Christmas tree because of it’s stunning crimson blooms with gold stamens. Pohutukawas are found throughout New Zealand but are particularly prevalent in coastal areas. They line much of the Auckland waterfront and I adore them.
As well as Rangitoto there are 5-6 other islands that you can take half or full day excursions to, including Tiritiri Matangi which is a native bird sanctuary.
When you come to Auckland I highly recommend taking a drive east from downtown along the waterfront’s Tamaki Drive to St Heliers. Across the Auckland Harbour Bridge, the North Shore has gorgeous beaches and views of the harbour too.