Auckland Destination Guide
Trimmed by harbours and flecked with volcanic cones, Auckland is a sprawling metropolitan hub that blends modern life and traditional Polynesian heritage. It may not wear the crown, but Auckland has all the makings of a capital.
New Zealand’s largest city is home to about a third of the country's population. Tāmaki Makaurau, as the Māori call it, is both a natural and manmade playground, with waterfront dining precincts, boutique-laden laneways, outlying wine country, secluded golden beaches, and 50 emerald isles dotting the Hauraki Gulf. Auckland is the perfect starting point for a North Island holiday, whether you're seeking leisure or adventure.
Visit these unique annual events...
- Pasifika – the world’s largest Pacific Island festival
- Auckland Lantern Festival
- The Takapuna Beach Cup paddling festival
With hidden bays, islands, beaches and wineries on the fringes of this modern city with an historical heart, it's tricky to compile just a short list of things to do in Auckland. Major Auckland attractions include Parnell – the city's oldest suburb laced with heritage houses and boutiques – Auckland Zoo, Auckland Art Gallery, and the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
If you're really strapped for time, the one thing you must do is take in the view from high above the ground at Sky Tower. Here, you can walk out onto an external viewing platform or, if you're as brave as Beyonce was, base jump off the tower.
Take the whole family to...
- A rugby game at Eden Park
- The world-class Auckland Zoo
- Sky Tower – 328-metres high!
Top Auckland restaurants take pride in combining local produce with seasonal variations to create wholesome and eclectic menus. Take your pick of restaurants at the neighbouring waterfront districts of Wynyard Quarter and Viaduct Harbour, or discover the hip eateries and bars in the Britomart precinct, just off Queen Street.
Take a trip further afield to the scenic village of Matakana, known for its vineyards and local organic produce, or set sail to Waiheke Island for award-winning wining and dining. The city's multicultural population ensures you can also easily find tastes to tempt you from many regions of the world.
Book in your fine dining at...
- The French Cafe, Newton
- Clooney, Freemans Bay
- Logan Brown, Te Aro
Auckland accommodation options cover the basic to the lavish – city hostels, smart bed-and-breakfasts, quaint cottages, sleek apartments, boutique art hotels and popular chains. Whatever you need, there's something with a Kiwi flavour to suit.
Many top-name hotels are in the city centre, while Auckalnd's volcanic hills and multiple islands, bays and beaches provide excellent vantage points for waterfront luxury across the region. If you don't need to stay right in town, consider a farmstay to give your holiday a different perspective!
Pack a picnic and visit...
- Mount Victoria (Takarunga)
- Mount Eden (Maungawhau)
- One Tree Hill (Maungakiekie)
Once you've picked up a cuddly kiwi toy (the bird) and some kiwi jam (the fruit), there's still plenty more to spend your New Zealand dollars on. Visit the historic Britomart precinct on the waterfront for fashion and homewares, or scope out the boutiques and brand-name retailers along Queen and High Streets in the main CBD area (Vulcan lane is a hidden gem connecting both streets, chockfull of trendy retailers and cafes).
One of the hippest places to be is amid the fashionable people in Ponsonby Road, or the 'divas of chic' in Parnell. Come weekends and weeknight, there are also several markets in Auckland which suit visitors and locals who prefer the slow lane life.
Go to market at...
- The City Farmers' Market
- Onehunga Night Market
- La Cigale French Farmer’s Market
Auckland like a Local
While New Zealand's top attractions draw visitors from all over the world, locals get in touch with nature and wildlife by heading west of the city to enjoy more than 250 kilometres of walking trails in the rainforests of the Waitakere Ranges.
When they're not combing the rainforest, Aucklanders are often spotted heading out to Waiheke Island, the "Island of Wine". An easy 35-minute ferry ride across the harbour will have you on guided tasting tours of some 30 boutique vineyards in no time. While you’re there, sample award-winning olive oils, check out the thriving local arts scene, and soak in incredible views across the harbour.
Get out with a half-day trip to...
- Volcanic Rangitoto Island
- The Waitakere Ranges
- Surf-central Piha Beach