Fastfood restaurants and traffic lights are the current reality of Auckland. Queen street is lined with fashion clothing stores and the harbour hosts huge, shiny boats. However, modern Auckland is lot more. A great way to explore the city is by bike. You can get away from the very centre of the city without being restricted by Hop on Hop off bus timetables and routes. Bikes can be hired from local shops for approx 40AUD/day (Adventure Capital).
A pleasant bike route from the centre to Mission Bay follows the curvy shoreline. Tamaki Drive promenade is an easy and safe route as it has a separate bike lane from the beginning to the end. Bike travels effortlessly on the flat ground and there is time to admire the sea views. Approximately 8 km route leads to a sandy beach. Perhaps there happens to be a craft faire when you get there. Rows of small tents filled with useful and useless things, people marvelling the strange products and kids playing in the water fountain. Even without the faire it is a nice place for a swim and a picnic.
Bike is an easy way to get around the city and to the places like Domain and Mount Eden as well. Auckland Domain is a green park where old trees, calm pathways, and grassy fields surround the Auckland Museum. Families with kids, old couples and a locals feeding the swans and ducks. This park could be anywhere in Europe. It is a destination for a sunny day as well as a rainy day.
The Eden, despite its name, is far from a green and lush paradise. It is one of the many volcanos in Auckland. It’s bare slopes and crater are covered mostly by grass, but the view to the city is great. You can see the whole of Auckland and both oceans surrounding it. The path is quite steep so it might be wise to lock the bikes underneath the hill and walk to the top.
Both destinations are located uphill above the city centre. That means that you will get familiar with the hills. Taking the straightest and the steepest road up might not be the best idea (although you’ll get a great ride down on a street like that!). Wondering a bit is good and might take you to unexpected places and enables you to see real neighbourhoods where local people live. Might even spot a house which has a baby doll sized superhero character standing on every window! I’m sure no tourist info will tell you a way to that house.