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Auckland - the largest city in New Zealand has three distinct parts. The centre (vibrant restaurants, arts scene, gardens), the East Coast (multiple islands in the beautiful Hauraki Gulf) and the West Coast (crashing surf and black sand beaches, lush rainforest).

As a long-term New Zealander, I always find excuses to get back up to Auckland.  Apart from catching up with old friends this is about the funky dining scene.  A few years ago the city woke up and now just a few months away is long enough to lose touch with what's happening with the restaurants and bars.  A combination of super-fresh produce and the fresh wind of inspiration combine to delight foodies.  I like taking starters at two or more restaurants to maximise tastes while I'm there.

Ever wonder why New Zealanders do so well at sailing?  Look no further than this harbour.  Beautiful, interesting, with lots of different shaped islands, and varied coastline.  It truly blows the cobwebs off.  And if you'd like to go ashore, you're spoilt for choice - vineyards, volcanoes, native bird and plant sanctuaries established just under 50 years ago, some excellent light fishing, and always that special light and a truly fresh breeze.  A lovely place to spend some time.

Edmund Hillary loved the West Coast.  Rugged, black sand beaches, lush rainforest and crashing surf.  This is where The Piano was filmed and its only 45 minutes from central Auckland.  Another very special place to spend some time, although access is unfortunately becoming more difficult due to the kauri dieback disease.  When I take personal guests to the West Coast for a bit of fresh air I love Karekare Beach, which is relatively easy to access.

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