Auckland manages to balance metropolitan living with a charming European-style, and the towns surrounding the city center each have a unique personality. Devonport, with its hilly scenery and colonial architecture, is a quaint maritime town, and unlike its big brother Auckland, does not have any buildings taller than three stories. Parnell, Ponsonby and Newport are all a mere 10 minute walk away from the harbor and each boast a starkly different scene, from French-like cafe culture to Turkish-influenced hookah lounges, Auckland is a melting pot of European and Asian traditions.
Devonport: A New Zealand cruise excursion back in time
As one of the oldest settlements in New Zealand, Devonpor
t has maintained its colonial architecture over the centuries and boasts a number of boutique stores as well as small fish-and-chip eateries where cruise passengers can munch on battered haddock with hand-cut fries like a true Englishman. A lovely seaside promenade offers visitors the chance to take in vistas of nearby Auckland, located just across the water. Passengers looking for a more romantic experience can hail a horse-drawn carriage for a sweet jaunt through the town.
With a few hours of leisure time, cruise passengers can walk through numerous art galleries and museums such as the Devonport Historical Museum, which features extensive information about the coastal town.
Families who want to take a short hike should walk up one of the two hills surrounding the town center: Mount Victoria and North Head. Formerly military bunker sites, these hills are a great place to take the kids. Colorful mushroom-painted sculptures dot the lawn at the top of Mount Victoria, and children are welcome to climb around the massive cannons.
Get French in Parnell
A steep hill takes New Zealand cruise passengers to Parnell, a notoriously French-influenced town. Self-proclaimed as Auckland's Creative Quarter, this beautiful suburb is nothing like any other part of the nearby metropolis with the incredible Auckland Domain park found just around the corner from decadent chocolate shops and fashion boutiques.
Cruise passengers finding themselves in Parnell on a Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday morning won't want to miss the farmers' market, where local vendors sell fresh produce, preserves and homemade cheeses. After grabbing a delicious ginger smoothie, travelers can peruse the small, open-air market and treat themselves to samples of French cheeses, ice cream and of course, a fresh-baked chocolate croissant.
A short distance from the farmers' market is the Auckland Domain, where locals lay out on picnic blankets and soak up the sun. Situated high on a hill in the middle of the park, the Auckland War Memorial Museum houses millions of Maori artifacts that illustrate a rich and vibrant culture that is still very much a part of everyday life.
Take a wine tour on Waiheke Island
Just a short ferry ride away from Auckland is Waiheke, a small, volcanic island with rich soil suited for growing white wine grapes like sauvignon blanc and chardonnay. On New Zealand shore excursions, Princess passengers will enjoy an unforgettable taste of the southern hemisphere's version of paradise.
The ferry ride will take a scenic tour of Waiheke's coast, which features farmland, forests, olive groves and vineyards. Likened to a Mediterranean landscape, the island has inspired local artists to create vivid paintings and with a camera in hand, cruisers won't be able to resist the urge to take dozens of pictures.