Maungakiekie (meaning: ‘Mountain of the Kiekie Vine’) / or One Tree Hill.
This could be the most famous location to gawp in wonder at the unfolding distant Auckland panorama that rewards the tourist who’s bravely walked the 20 minutes to the top of this extinct 182-metre high volcano from the car park. The view is seriously impressive with far-reaching views across the wide vista of the Auckland area and its two harbours. The rather muddled story of how it got the name ‘One Tree Hill’ in acts of both colonial vandalism and Maori activism on various existing trees that existed there over the years and the impressive obelisk and mausoleum to one of Auckland’s founding fathers (Sir John Logan Campbell 1817-1912) makes a visit here in my humble view; imperative.
St Heliers Beach
Heading back to sea level, here is an iconic Auckland view, with a gastronomic twist! Gaze out over the Hauraki Gulf on a warm sunny summer’s evening, sitting on the beach nursing in your lap a generous helping of fish and chips. The boating, fishing, paddle-boarding, kayaking and every other type of marine leisure activity providing ample interest and the immediate backdrop of the stunning Rangitoto Island (a slightly worryingly still-active ’Shield’ Volcano) finishing the setting off perfectly.
Arataki Visitor Centre
The ‘gateway’ to the Waitakere Ranges, this professionally-run impressive tourist attraction seeks to inform, present and protect the environmentally vulnerable ecosystem of this amazing regional park but it also has a view to die for! What is really strikingly different about this location is that the view is over natural New Zealand bush (rainforest)that has been incredibly and almost unbelievably salvaged from once lush dairy farmland fields. If you’re lucky enough to get a quiet day just stand and listen to the plethora of bird song, an experience that you will long remember.
The Auckland Skytower
No self respecting Auckland visitor should ever miss out on this view and experience. Unfortunately, it’s the only view you have to pay for, but we can ameliorate for this by playing-clever. If you go to the 53rd floor’s excellent Sugar Club Restaurant (desk on ground floor) and explain you would like to go to the bar for a drink, you will get the view and refreshments for the same price as heading to the viewing floor. They will require a minimum spend of $30 so take the opportunity to taste their brilliant local drinks list and charcuterie board or chips and onion dip (a true kiwi classic). There you can sit in great comfort and watch the world-go-by, especially the cruise liners and cargo ships as they arrive and depart far below in the Auckland port. Another tangential amusement is watching the terrified tourists who’ve elected to bungy jump off the Tower and the poor unfortunates who’s legs turn to jelly as they wobble to the edge of the precipitous 300 meter drop! Not for me thanks.
Maungawhau / Mount Eden
I’ve saved the best till last. At 196 m (643 ft) tall, this is Auckland’s highest extinct volcano and is in every way the most spectacular. The large, well-preserved crater, 50 m (160 ft) deep and is every child’s exact vision of what a volcano should look like! The 360 degree view at the top takes your breath away and lays Auckland CBD at your feet. There is the usual amble up to the top from the carpark but nothing onerous or too physically taxing and the view that’s waiting makes every step worth it. In the distance on a clear day you can see you can just see the end of the Coromandel Peninsula and even Great Barrier Island, nearly 100 kms away, appears as a grey smudge on the horizon.
All of these views are included in our tours:
https://oliestravels.nz/products/auckland-volcanoes-tour and https://oliestravels.nz/products/west-auckland-tour