As major cities go, Auckland on New Zealand’s North Island is by no means one of the world’s busiest. Still, as you walk down Queen Street in the heart of the CBD, or go for a bite to eat along its celebrated ‘K Road’ just north of the centre, you’ll soon discover that there are quite a lot of people here. It is the country’s biggest city after all.
This is why it’s good to know the quieter spots where you can get away from it all. The Domain is one of them, as are the Queen Street Gardens, although both of these are still on the fringes of downtown Auckland. Instead, there’s a place I've visited where you can go to really get away from it all for a few hours.
Just 30 minutes from the centre of Auckland is Devonport, a village that has a population of approximately 5,000 people. This is why finding out that it has a street called ‘Main Street’ doesn't come as much of a surprise.
The first thing you’ll notice if you visit Devonport is the journey there from Auckland’s CBD. You need to take a ferry from the terminal at the bottom of Queen Street in the centre of Auckland. Depending on what ferry you catch, the crossing will take either 10 or 30 minutes, but my advice is take the slow one. The views of Auckland’s skyline trigger thoughts of ‘life could be worse…’
On arrival in Devonport you’ll see the difference in pace of life immediately. The city skyline will quickly be forgotten as you stroll around the village.
Walking around the centre of this popular little village, you’ll encounter shops and stores catering for all type of tastes. Devonport is famed for its art, and along the streets you’ll find an array of galleries, studios and workshops exploring many artistic expressions and media.
If it’s not art you’re into, you’ll find a range of others stores here, selling everything from arts and crafts to clothing, gifts, toys and jewellery.
However, if you’re here to do nothing but people watch and see what the town is about, the best place to do this is from a café, and Devonport is full of them. In Chiasso Coffee Roasters on Wynyard Street you can enjoy fresh roasted gourmet coffee beans in their ‘roastery’, while in the Devonport Stone Oven Bakery and Café on Clarence Street you’ll find something to satisfy your sweet tooth.
For the more active, Devonport is the perfect place to visit and offers walks and hikes you won’t get in the centre of the city. There are two to note in particular and, thankfully, both offer mesmerising views. The first is along the waterfront to North Head. The walk is a reasonable one but the views, as well as the military tunnels there, are worth it.
The other hike to consider is Mount Victoria, which should take you approximately ten minutes from the top of Main Street. The views of Auckland city and the harbour from here are ones you won’t forget, particularly if you catch a sunset here.
Auckland is full of neighbourhoods away from the city worth visiting, although none offer quite as much as Devonport can – peace and quiet, shopping, cafés, art galleries and, most importantly, the great outdoors right on your doorstep.
If you want to stay in this pretty village when you visit Auckland, you’re in luck as we’ve a great homestay in Devonport just a ten minute walk from the village centre, where host Aimee and her partner will be your hosts (see photo above). Not only is the house sunny all day, has delicious fruit trees in the garden that you can help yourself to, it’s also close to more than ten beaches, a golf course and a park. Sounds perfect!
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