If you are staying in Auckland for a couple of days (or even live here) and you are in a search of easy going (half) day trip that can start at around midday (not in the winter of course :D), then catching a bus from the City to the North Shore might be something you'd be interested to do.
Sometimes you find yourself waking up to a nice sunny day with no obligations ahead of you. Even though lying around in bed sound tempting, you want to do something with your free time.
There's a dessert cafe and cakery called House of Chocolate located on the Auckland's North Shore that I was eyeing on Instagram for a while. Since I had the time and was eager to do something on my day off, me and my flatmate took an early afternoon bus over the Auckland Harbour Bridge to Takapuna, coastal suburb on the North side of Auckland, where their store is located.
We have stopped there for a coffee and chocolate treats. I absolutely loved the cozy interior design, comfy sofa by the window and big glass windows that cast a rainbow right over our desk and shoes.
Of course I had to bring my Fujifilm instax mini to document our spontaneous little trip to the other side of the city.
(brown - apricot, green - feijoa, pink - strawberry mousse)
After having our respective coffee and sugar fix, we have made our way down to the beach. There you can find a lovely Takapuna Beach Cafe where they serve delicious ice cream and their scoops are huuuge!
Also, we have passed a super lovely frozen yogurt shop on our way to the beach! I am not a fan of a frozen yogurt
but this KiwiYo shop was just too cute to not take a photo of! :D
As the tide was reasonably low at the time we arrived there, we decided to walk along the sea line all the way from Takapuna beach along the shore to the Milford Beach. If you are searching for a beach path, just turn left when arriving to the Takapuna Beach Cafe (facing the Rangitoto island and the water) and follow the path towards the camping site. There is usually always someone around or going that way so just follow them if you are unsure where to go :D (in a non-creepy way of course!).
As you walk along the coast, you have a beautiful view on the Rangitoto island on your left. Despite it's name, Rangitoto is actually a volcano! (If you din't know already - Auckland is built on an active volcanic field!)
Rangitoto is the most recent and biggest volcano in Auckland which erupted only 600 years ago when it ejected as much lava as all the other Auckland volcanoes put together.
On the right, you can observe the houses of super rich people. (I mean, who else would build their house in a shape of a ship?)
We ALMOST made it all the way to the Milford beach, but we had to abandon our quest a couple of meters before reaching it, as the water at that point was simply too high.
All in all, the beach walk from Takapuna Beach to Milford Beach took us approximately 45 minutes. Of course we had to stop multiple times to take numerous pics and on a couple of occasions wait for the waves to calm down as they were quite high at some spots.
Shout out to Chloë and her family who showed me this path a couple of weeks back when I was still new to Auckland. Last time we made our way the other way around (start in Milford towards Takapuna and then back to Milford) and there were more dogs involved. Did you know that once the clocks change to summer time the dogs are no longer permitted on the beaches? Also all beaches in New Zealand are public beaches so you cannot own a private beach.
After we have completed our beach walk, we caught a bus back to Takapuna where we connected to another bus that took us to Devonport. We have then made our way through extremely pretty neighborhood towards the North Head, hill overlooking a harbour and offering a great view on Auckland.
As the North Head (Maungauika in Maori language) looks over the harbour, it was an important strategic and military point between 1878 and 1996. Ever since the navy left the hill, the hill has become a popular walking and lookout spot. The military left behind numerous rows under the hill which are now accessible for public to have a wander through them.
As you make your way to the top, you can observe the beautiful views. The hill itself makes you feel like you are in the middle of a Hobbit movie set! (cue in Ed Sheeran's I See Fire song :D)
I think that's where The Generic Windows Wallpaper photo was taken :D
Such a beautiful view from the top!
Facing the City's skyline
When you look around and take in the view just remember, all the hills that you can see are actually volcano cones. And there's a lot of them - around 50 in the Auckland volcanic field alone!
You can take a self-guided walk and you can even watch a short movie about the area in one of the barracks at the top that were turned into a small exhibition area.
Check Department of Conservation's website if you want to learn more about the history of North Head/Maungauika.
This is also a good sunset observation spot on a clear day. Sadly, when we were there, the sky was not really clear although some rays could be seen. It was also very windy!
We have slowly descended the volcano hill (one of the oldest volcano cones in Auckland that was formed over 50, 000 years ago) and walked down the King Edward Parade towards the ferry terminal.
This road is offering you beautiful coastal view on your left and view on beautiful, almost castle like, homes on your right (anyone wants to buy me one?).
We have then caught a ferry (you can use AT HOP public transport card ) back to the City from where we took a bus back home.
I would definitely advise anyone visiting Auckland to check out the north shore. My tip would be - do it on the weekday when there's bound to be less people. We were doing it on a Friday afternoon and it was so peaceful. When we were up on North Head, there were just a few people milling around. Also, it is a great place for taking photos. All in all, you really can't go wrong by doing this trail.
(Shout out to my flatmate Nida who came with me on this last minute day trip and took some awesome photos of me!)
I'm currently preparing for my trip to the north of the North Island - Bay of Islands, and I'm really excited to properly start discovering New Zealand.