Putting on some extra pounds during a semester abroad is all too easy on a New Zealand diet of fish n’ chips and Tim Tams. However, I found a way to integrate my travels with my workouts, all without paying extra for a gym membership. At the beginning of the semester, I signed up for a half marathon and committed to taking runs in the city. It turned out to be a great way to learn my way around and explore new neighborhoods. Here are my top picks within running distance of the Auckland universities.
This run has some of the best views of Auckland, but it really makes you work for it. You can change up your hill workout here by taking the stairs by the playground, running the wide bike path with a moderate incline, or charging up the steep and short driveway to the summit. Either way, it’s pretty cool to say you did your workout on an old volcano. The jog to Mount Eden is only about 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) from the universities.
Te Ara I Whiti (The Lightpath)
Sometimes I procrastinated on my workouts until five, six or seven o’clock at night. I found that the fading light wasn’t really a good excuse to skip a run, at least not when you have paths like Te Are I Whiti. This iconic walkway was an old motorway before it was refurbished with a new (pink!) paint job and an interactive light display that changes color as you run along the path. The views of the city skyline are stunning. You can either get on Te Ara I Whiti near Upper Queen Street or the corner of Nelson Street and Pitt Street. A loop starting at the universities would come in at a short and fun 4 kilometers (2.5 miles).
The Auckland Domain
The Domain is like the Central Park of Auckland. There’s a museum, huge fields for sports, gardens, and trails going in every direction. Auckland University and the Auckland University of Technology are so close to this park that I could see it from my bedroom window. That means that this is a great spot if you only have an hour before your next class. I usually run on the Centennial Walkway and pop out of the Domain on Park Road. Then I cross the Grafton Bridge and finish the run going downhill on Symonds Street back to the universities.
If your legs are sore from the hills all around Auckland, take a nice, easy run on Tamaki Drive. This flat road has a path right alongside the Waitemata Harbor, so you can watch the boats that give the City of Sails its name. If you’re feeling ambitious (or guilty about slacking in your marathon training), you can run all the way to Mission Beach, which is about 7.5 kilometers (4.5 miles) from the universities.
If you go the other direction along the harbor, you’ll be right in the heart of Auckland’s city centre. This route is popular with locals, so you’ll see plenty of runners passing the ferry building and restaurants in the Viaduct. Take the Wynard Crossing bridge and you’ll be surrounded by the water and the iconic skyscrapers of Auckland. This route is a little over 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) from the universities.