I have two days to spend in Auckland area (actually Thursday mid-day to Saturday 11:55 pm flight to USA.) This will be the tail end of a week spent on the South Island doing glaciers, Queenstown, Milford Sound, hopefully several hikes, paragliding, maybe flights out of Fjord to save time and see the scenery from different perspective. It will be mid-August (winter weather)
Once I'm back in AUCK I planned to spend time in the city proper doing ferries, walks (coast to coast?), seeing the urban volcanoes, possibly going to Waiheke or Rangitoto. I'm open to anything, I like the water, nature, animals, serenity, scenery, quiet, peace. I'm on a moderately tight budget, but willing to spend money to see things otherwise not accessible directly from AUCK CBD.
I have just been offered the option to have a friend drive me up somewhere in the Bay of Islands (don't know where) and on the way do caving and some hiking through a forest of some kind (unfortunately don't have those specifics). My instinct is to chill out, enjoy Auckland, and NOT spend more time in transport after doing lots of bus/flight time during the SI portion of the trip; and with the int'l flight upcoming that Saturday night.
Any tips on which to choose? I would hate to miss Bay of Islands if given chance to see it, but I had resigned myself to it being just one of those things I'd have to see next time due to this trip being much too short. On the other hand, I'm not a huge fan of sun or beaches (though I do love to walk a beach in cooler weather as long as I'm not just lying out soaking in sun). I DO enjoy cities, exploring, having free time that's not scheduled in a tour or stuck in a car/bus. And don't want to entirely skip Auckland if it's completely a valid place to spend the final two days of my trip.
Thanks much for any guidance! Oh, traveling solo (happily) :)))