There are two major differences between life in Jakarta and life in Auckland: people and space.

Jakarta has over 20 million people in its total conurbanation area, Auckland only 2 million. To reach green – really natural – space you need to drive a long way east, south or west from Jakarta. In Auckland there is seriously green space in the centre of the city and three amazing bits of coastline no more than one hour’s drive to the west.

Let’s start with the city centre park. Cornwall Park, with One Tree Hill at its centre is a magnificent country park filled with trees of every description. It’s really like being in the country with sheep and chickens in certain areas but also cafes, barbeque areas and playgrounds. It is a bit of magic in the city.

Heading west through the Waitakere Ranges, the best known place is a surf beach called Piha, with a beautiful stack at the end of the beach called Lion Rock. The village is nearly unspoiled and undeveloped and a pleasure to visit.

But the three beaches we are visiting are probably less known but absolutely fantastic:

Kakamatua Beach, which is a beautiful tidal bay with a river estuary, much loved by dog owners since it is “dog permitted” and perfect for walks. Easy to access, easy to park, easy to enjoy!

Muriwai Beach, which also has a great longer walking beach but also a cliff top gannet colony which is home to thousands of these elegant birds. There are viewing galleries on various cliff tops and access, while quite steep, is really feasible for all ages. People also fish off the wave-swept rocks. Real nature.

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Karekare, this is an amazing cliff-top, forest area starting at Mercer Bay and going through spectacular countryside to majestic cliff tops and is a bracing 2-3 hour walk in an unspoilt, undisturbed and beautiful environment with fresh breezes and magnificent views. A bit of a challenge for the unfit, but well worth the effort.

If these four brilliant places to walk aren’t enough to inspire you to contact your travel agent today I am disappointed. New Zealand is the perfect antidote to Jakarta and these easily accessible places make Auckland just a marvelous place to visit, allowing nature by day and nurture (good food and wine) by night!

Alistair Speirs

Alistair Speirs

Alistair has been in the publishing, advertising and PR business for 25 years. He started NOW! Magazines as the region’s preferred community magazine.