The best of Auckland
Auckland truly has something for everyone – whether you’re looking for relaxation, adventure, nightlife, magnificent scenery or a rich cultural experience. These are just some of the highlights of what the region has to offer.
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Action and adventure
If you’ve still got lots of energy to burn after the big event, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Experience spectacular 360-degree views of the city from the Sky Tower’s observation deck, 192 metres above ground. The Sky Tower is the largest building in the Southern Hemisphere and the twelfth largest building in the world. Get your heart pumping with SkyJump – New Zealand’s highest base jump – or the incredible SkyWalk, where you’ll walk around the exterior of the Sky Tower with nothing between you and the ground but a rope and a 1.2m wide platform – this is extreme sightseeing at its best.
For another high altitude option, climb up, under and over the Auckland Harbour Bridge with Auckland Bridge Climb. Watch the traffic zoom beneath you and check out the expansive city and harbour views. The perfect way to finish your climb is obvious – take the plunge off the Auckland Harbour Bridge for another thrill with AJ Hackett Bungy.
Other endorphin-pumping activities include canyoning in the Waitakere Ranges, hurtling down the indoor ski run at Snowplanet and swimming with the sharks at Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World.
Hauraki Gulf’s beautiful islands
Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf is home to many beautiful islands just a short ferry ride from downtown Auckland – a unique luxury that not many other cities can offer.
If it’s relaxation, not exhilaration, that you’re after, Waiheke Island is the place to go. The jewel of the Hauraki Gulf, Waiheke is a haven of beautiful vineyards, olive groves, farm land and beaches – all just a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland. A trip here is an absolute must for visitors. Sample award-winning wines, enjoy fine dining and take in the island’s stunning views that will have you reaching for the camera.
Tiritiri Matangi Island Wildlife Sanctury is one of the most successful conservation projects in the world and a great spot for nature lovers. ‘Tiri’ is home to many of New Zealand’s rarest native bird species, as well as the oldest working lighthouse in New Zealand. You may even meet some of the country’s most endangered species in the wild.
Auckland’s most iconic island is the volcanic cone of Rangitoto. Explore by foot or hop on the Fullers Volcanic Explorer tour, where you’ll enjoy a scenic ferry ride across the harbour and a fascinating guided tour on a 4WD road train to the top. Walk through the world’s largest pohutukawa forest, see the lava caves and be blown away by the breathtaking views from the 260 metre high summit.
Those keen to discover a ‘diamond in the rough’ can travel by light plane to Great Barrier Island, renowned for its remoteness and rugged beauty. Enjoy secluded natural hot springs and visit historic kauri dams. Alternatively, get there on a scenic heli-fishing flight and land a big one from a remote rock ledge.
Hit the water
You might be hitting the water on your big day already, but take some time to enjoy all the other water activities Auckland has to offer and see it from another perspective.
Get those endorphins flowing and the adrenalin pumping with a jet boat ride on Auckland’s harbour. Get your thrills with high speeds, knuckle-biting spins and turns and a few surprise tricks.
If you still have plenty of get-up-and-go, take the amazing opportunity to be part of the crew on an actual America’s Cup racing yacht with Explore NZ. Usually reserved for billionaires and elite professional yachtsmen, helping to man one of these superb racing machines is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You can get as stuck in as you like – take the helm, get your pulse racing on the grinders – or simply sit back and enjoy the scenic trip across the harbour. No experience is necessary.
On the flip side, if you’d rather unwind after all your hard work, enjoy a relaxing harbour dinner cruise. Get out on the magnificent Waitemata Harbour before dining on delicious New Zealand fare from award-winning Kermadec restaurant, renowned for its superb seafood cuisine.
Take a walk on the wild side
Animal lovers will find plenty of chances to get up close and personal to critters and creatures of all shapes and sizes.
Stretch your hamstrings with a stroll around Auckland Zoo, where you’ll see New Zealand’s largest collection of animals, home to 138 different species and over 860 animals. You can even go on a private tour and get a glimpse behind the scenes. With incredible themed spaces, it is recognised as one of the most progressive zoos in the world.
Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium is one of the city’s top attractions. Ride a snowcat through New Zealand’s only sub-Antarctic penguin colony and see King and Gentoo penguins playing in their icy domain. Get an awe-inspiring look at giant rays in Stingray Bay and then journey beneath the ocean on a moving walkway to see sharks and thousands of incredible fish in the Underwater World.
Auckland’s Whale and Dolphin Safari takes you out on the beautiful Hauraki Gulf, one of the most biologically and geographically diverse marine parks in the world. Enjoy the scenic cruise onboard the luxury power catamaran, then watch the dolphins and whales at play in the pristine waters.
Discover the fascinating history of the land and people of New Zealand at Auckland Museum. See the monumental carvings, buildings, canoes and taonga (treasures) of the country’s indigenous Maori people and experience one of the daily cultural performances. There’s an impressive range of world-class galleries, interactive displays and visiting exhibitions, and the remarkable historical building sits atop lush parkland with incredible views over the harbour – the perfect place for a picnic.
Visit the recently extended and refurbished Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, where you’ll find an exceptional collection of traditional and contemporary art, with more than 15,000 works, as well as visiting exhibitions. Wander through at your leisure or enjoy a free guided tour.
Water lovers should make time to visit the Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum to discover the way the sea has shaped New Zealand’s history and cultural identity. The museum tells the story of the country’s rich maritime history, from the Polynesians’ epic migration to Aotearoa, to European discoveries and settlement, to modern-day yachting success.
Fancy getting active at a slightly slower pace? Auckland is an ideal spot for a round of golf, with a great mix of coastal and inland courses. Whether you’re after international quality resort courses or picturesque local gems, there’s a perfect round for players of all abilities.
Hit the links amidst rolling terrain and ocean views at Gulf Harbour golf course on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula just north of central Auckland, or try The Grange – widely regarded as one of New Zealand's iconic courses. The Formosa Golf Resort's course has superb views from its clifftop and coastal fairways and was designed by golfing legend Sir Bob Charles.
There are more than 20 courses throughout the Auckland region, so golf enthusiasts are sure to find the perfect round.
The wild west
Auckland’s west coast is famous for its lush rainforest, native wildlife and rugged black sand surf beaches such as Piha, Karekare, Bethells and Muriwai. Swap your running shoes for walking shoes and explore the 250 kilometres of walking tracks that lead to beaches, breathtaking vistas, and waterfalls.
Shopping and fashion
Even if shorts and runners are more your style, there’s always room in the closet for a few fancy new threads. You can shop for designer fashion from internationally successful New Zealand designers like Karen Walker, Kate Sylvester, Zambesi and World. Or for something more casual, there’s a wide range of local fashion stores and malls throughout Auckland.
Auckland’s top fashion precincts include bustling Ponsonby Road, Parnell’s exclusive boutiques, thriving Newmarket and the High Street/Chancery/Vulcan Lane quarter of the city. The newly restored Britomart precinct in Auckland’s downtown is rapidly becoming a fashion hub too. You can also browse local markets to pick up quality foods, fashion and Kiwi arts and crafts.
Boost your carbohydrates, get your greens, or grab a protein hit – there are countless restaurants, bars and cafés for every age, taste and budget. From fresh fish and chips at the Auckland Fish Market to fine cuisine at one of the many harbourside eateries, there’s plenty to choose from.
The city fringe suburbs of Ponsonby, Mission Bay and Parnell all offer great food, wine and people watching. If you fancy a day trip further afield, visit the scenic village of Matakana north of the city, known for its vineyards and local organic produce.
There's an amazing amount to do in Auckland so there's never a dull moment, for more destination information click here