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The Auckland area has 22 regional parks, covering 37,038 hectares (91,484 acres) and more than 500km (310 miles) of walking tracks. The Auckland Domain, the city’s oldest park, is an imposing crown of green just minutes from the city center. Within it, the Wintergarden, the steamy Tropical House, and Fernz Fernery are botanical showcases for indigenous and exotic plant specimens. Admission is free. The Wintergarden is open daily from 10am to 4pm. There are also extensive formal gardens, sweeping lawns, statuary, duck ponds, sports grounds, and dozens of picnic spots. Summer Sundays bring free jazz and rock concerts in the band rotunda, chamber music in the Wintergarden, and megaconcerts on the sports fields. Call tel. 09/379-2020 or fax 09/571-3757 for details. There are several well-signposted entrances to the Auckland Domain. Two of the busiest are on Stanley Street and Parnell Road. There are also entrances on Grafton Road and Park Road.

Cornwall Park is a true urban oasis; with One Tree Hill Domain, it forms the largest park in Auckland. The two parks fan out from the hill and are grazed by sheep and cattle. Stone walls, beautiful avenues of oak trees, and dozens of pretty walkways wind their way through this haven. Access is off Manukau Road at Royal Oak and Greenland West and Campbell roads. Cornwall Park Visitor Centre (tel. 09/630-8485; www.cornwallpark.co.nz) has information on walks in the park.

The Parnell Rose Garden and Dove-Myer Robinson Park (named after a popular former city mayor) are off Gladstone and Judges Bay roads in Parnell. One of the city’s first churches, little St. Stephen’s Chapel, is also here.

Auckland Botanic Gardens, 102 Hill Rd., Manurewa (tel. 09/267-1457; www.aucklandbotanicgardens.co.nz), cover 64 hectares (158 acres). It's home to more than 10,000 plants. The gardens are open daily from 8am to 8pm in summer and 8am to 6pm in winter. The Visitor Centre is open during the summer Monday through Friday from 8am to 4:30pm, Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 5pm; Monday through Friday 8am to 4pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am to 4pm in winter; the cafe is open daily from 8:30am to 4:30pm. Guides for organized groups are available Monday through Friday. Call tel. 09/266-3698, e-mail botanicgardens@arc.govt.nz, or ask at the visitor center. To get here from the city, travel south and take the Manurewa motorway exit, turn left onto Hill Road, and drive to the entrance.

Also worth a look are Eden Gardens, 24 Omana Ave., Mount Eden. (tel. 09/638-8395; www.edengarden.co.nz). They're open daily 9am to 4:30pm (9am-4pm in winter); the on-site cafe is open from 9am to 4pm. Admission is NZ$8 adults, NZ$6 seniors and students, free for children. Once a quarry, it is now a showplace for an amazing collection of rhododendron, vireya, hibiscus, bromeliads, palms, and many other subtropical species.

Mount Hobson Reserve -- Take a picnic basket and go up the easy 10-minute bush walk to the top of Mount Hobson in Remuera. Watch the sun go down over wonderful 360-degree views of the harbor and city. Access to Mount Hobson Reserve is signposted on Remuera Road, just before you reach the village.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.