Rangitoto Island#1 in Best Things To Do in Auckland
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Situated just off the coast of central Auckland across from Devonport is Rangitoto Island, a volcanic island known for its superb hiking trails and panoramic views. Multiple trails are available for island exploration, including the popular Summit Track, which takes hikers through lava fields and the world's largest pohutukawa forest to the island's summit.
Prepare for stunning vistas and a steep, yet doable hike when visiting Rangitoto Island. If you're not keen on hiking, travelers recommend opting for Fullers' Volcanic Explorer Tour, which includes round-trip ferry transfers to and from downtown Auckland and a four-wheel drive road train tour of the island.
Also, keep in mind that Rangitoto Island and others around Auckland are pest-free sanctuaries, so visitors interested in eating on the island will need to pack their lunches and take any trash with them. More information about the island's history and conservation efforts can be found on the Rangitoto Island Historic Conservation Trust's website.
A trip to Rangitoto Island will require hopping on a Fullers ferry from the Downtown Ferry Terminal. Round-trip ferry tickets cost 33 New Zealand dollars (about $24) per adult and NZ$16.50 (approximately $12) for each child. Kids 4 and younger ride for free, and reduced rates are available for visitors who book the 7:30 a.m. ferry to the island on weekends and holidays. Family tickets for two adults and two children are also available for NZ$89 ($64). Meanwhile, travelers who opt for a Volcanic Explorer Tour will pay NZ$34 to NZ$68 (or $24.50 to $49) per person. The last ferry departs the island at 3:30 p.m. on weekdays and 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays; only visitors who reserve one of two vacation rentals through Bookabach can stay on the island after dark. To learn more, visit Rangitoto Island's official website.
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#2 Cornwall Park
Imagine New York's Central Park but with a New Zealand twist, and you've got Cornwall Park. This sprawling park, which sits on a volcanic cone, offers an abundance of greenery, plus unique features like the remnants of a pre-European Maori fort and the remains of Sir John Logan Campbell, the park's donor. One of the park's greatest assets is its lookout point: Don't leave without taking in the views at One Tree Hill.
Previous visitors raved about the park's relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere and its amenities, which include picnic areas, a playground, jogging and bike paths, a tennis center and gardens. Part of the park is also set aside for farm animals like sheep and cows. Past travelers offered even more praises for the park's panoramas, adding that bringing a camera to snap photos is a must.
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