Things to see and do in Auckland
There’s so much to see and do in Auckland while you’re here – great shopping, superb food and wine, island retreats, stunning scenery, a buzzing nightlife and plenty of action and adventure.
Things to do near the event
With a fantastic event setting right on Auckland’s waterfront, you don’t have to go far to find some of the city’s top spots and best experiences.
From Queens Wharf, it’s just a few minutes’ walk to the Britomart precinct’s superb shopping and dining. The area’s beautifully restored historical buildings are home to an array of restaurants, cafés and bars, and an impressive line up of designer boutiques.
You’ll also find more great dining options and night spots at Viaduct Harbour and Wynyard Quarter. Tuck into fresh seafood and fine wine overlooking the super yachts at Viaduct Harbour or enjoy the harbour views from one of the restaurants along Wynyard Quarter’s North Wharf. There’s also a great marine themed playground and historic tram that kids will love.
Hop on a ferry to one of the Hauraki Gulf’s beautiful islands – the ferry terminals are right next to Queens Wharf. Head to Rangitoto and take in the incredible views from the summit or Auckland’s most iconic volcano, or discover beautiful Waiheke Island – the ‘island of wine’. The scenic seaside village of Devonport is just a 12-minute ferry ride across the harbour too.
There are loads more activities close at hand, with jet boating, sailing, kayaking, harbour cruises and tours all departing from the waterfront.
For more ideas, information, bookings and free maps, pop into the i-SITE Visitor Information Centre on Princes Wharf.
Action and adventure
Auckland is one big playground, so get out there and play.
Head to Auckland’s iconic Sky Tower – it’s the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere and not only are the 360-degree views from the observation deck truly spectacular, but it’s also a great spot for some serious adventure. ‘SkyJump’ off the tower in New Zealand’s highest controlled base jump, or ‘SkyWalk’ around the exterior on a narrow platform 192 metres above the ground – this is extreme sightseeing at its best.
Climb up, under and over the Auckland Harbour Bridge with Auckland Bridge Climb while the traffic zooms beneath you, or bungy jump off the bridge in New Zealand’s only ocean touch bungy.
Hauraki Gulf’s beautiful islands
Explore the magnificent Hauraki Gulf’s islands for a uniquely Auckland experience.
Waiheke Island is the jewel of the gulf and a must for visitors. Just a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland, Waiheke is also known as the ‘island of wine’ for its many boutique vineyards and wineries. Sample award-winning wines, enjoy fine dining with amazing views, kayak around the coves, go ziplining above the trees, or take a dip at one of the golden-sand beaches.
Nature lovers shouldn’t miss Tiritiri Matangi Island, an open wildlife sanctuary and one of the most successful conservation projects in the world. Walk amongst the wildlife, see the oldest working lighthouse in New Zealand, and keep an eye out for some of New Zealand’s rarest native bird species.
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.
If you’re in Auckland a bit longer, travel by light plane to the more remote Great Barrier Island, renowned for its rugged beauty. Explore this untouched paradise on one of the many walking and hiking trails, visit secluded natural hot springs and historic kauri dams, or go fishing, diving or surfing at one of the beautiful beaches.
Kawau, Rotoroa, Motutapu and Motihue all offer more chances to enjoy the spectacular scenery and tranquillity of our islands.
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.
Take a spin on the harbour with a jet boat ride, with high speeds, knuckle-biting spins and turns and a few surprise tricks. You can even zoom around on a jet ski – either way, the adrenalin’s pumping and the views are spectacular.
For something completely different, help sail an actual America’s Cup racing yacht. Get as stuck in as you like – take the helm, get your pulse racing on the grinders – or simply sit back and enjoy. If you’d rather unwind after all your hard work, enjoy a relaxing harbour cruise and see the sights.
Head out on a whale and dolphin spotting safari in the beautiful Hauraki Gulf, one of the most biologically and geographically diverse marine parks in the world. Enjoy the scenic cruise on your way out into the gulf, then watch the dolphins and whales at play in the pristine waters.
When it comes to dining, Auckland has a wide range of options from world-class restaurants to informal bistro and pub fare. The diverse options reflect the city’s melting pot of cultures – you’ll find everything from Asian and Pacific flavours to indulgent European fare, as well as New Zealand’s superb seafood, caught fresh daily.
The waterfront precincts of Wynyard Quarter and Viaduct Harbour both offer diverse dining right on the water’s edge, or just unwind with an ice-cold beer or a glass of superb New Zealand or international wine.
Britomart’s restored historical buildings are now home to numerous bars and restaurants. There’s everything from Japanese and Vietnamese to light local cuisine and fresh French-style pastries. Coffee or cocktails, a pint or a pinot gris, there are plenty of places to refuel too.
The city fringe suburbs of Ponsonby, Mission Bay and Parnell all offer great food, wine and people watching. The SKYCITY precinct has more than 20 different places to drink and dine, from top notch eateries headed by New Zealand’s most famous chefs to relaxed family restaurants.
If you fancy a day trip, discover the boutique vineyards and local organic foods in the scenic Matakana wine region, just an hour north of the central city.
It’s easy to keep the whole family entertained when you’re in Auckland, whether you’ve got rug rats or teenagers in tow.
With 138 different species, over 875 animals and incredible themed spaces, Auckland Zoo is a hit with all ages – make sure you check out the free daily animal encounters.
Hit the rides at Rainbow’s End, New Zealand’s premiere theme park, with everything from family favourites like the log flume and dodgem cars to the thrills of the corkscrew rollercoaster and Fear Fall.
Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium is one of the city’s top attractions. Get up close to the King and Gentoo penguins with an on-the-ice encounter, and see sharks, giant stingrays, spiny sea dragons and the thousands of fish in the walk-through underwater aquarium.
EcoZip Adventures is one of Auckland’s newest and coolest activities, with three dual ziplines (state-of-the-art flying foxes) that take you zooming high above the trees. EcoZip is on beautiful Waiheke Island, just a 35-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland, and as you zip you’ll get some incredible views over the native bush and right out across the Hauraki Gulf.
Butterfly Creek is another great family destination with a variety of things to do – one minute you’ll be walking through the peaceful tropical butterfly house and moments later looking into the eyes of saltwater crocodiles. There’s also a room of creepy crawlies, while outside the paddocks are full of cute farm animals.
Soak up the culture
Auckland is not only the world’s largest Polynesian city, it is a melting pot of cultures from across the globe.
Immerse yourself in Māori culture – see the amazing collection of Māori taonga (treasures) at Auckland Museum and catch one of the daily cultural performances. Take a walking tour of Auckland’s volcanoes with a guide from the local iwi (tribe), visit Te Hana Te Ao Marama, an incredible fortified pa and 17th century Māori village replica, or sail the harbour on a traditional sailing waka.
Be sure to visit Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, housing more than 15,000 artworks from the old masters to some of New Zealand’s best artists. 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, from the Polynesians’ early migration to Aotearoa right through to modern-day yachting success.
There’s also heaps of live music gigs, theatre, exhibitions and shows to choose from any day or night of the week.
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
Treat yourself to a bit of retail therapy in Auckland.
If it’s designer threads you’re after, head to the Britomart precinct in downtown Auckland. You’ll find some of New Zealand’s most internationally successful designers, including Trelise Cooper, Karen Walker, Kate Sylvester, Zambesi and WORLD, plus international fashion and beauty labels.
Newmarket is a shopper’s paradise, with a great mix of designer stores and all the usual favourites, not to mention the huge range of cafés and restaurants to choose from after your splurge.
Ponsonby and Parnell are both top spots to pick up designer pieces, jewellery, art, homewares, books and lots more. When you’ve got your goodies, sit back with a coffee or a glass of wine and watch the world go by, or stay later for dinner, drinks and dancing.
There's an amazing amount to do in Auckland so there's never a dull moment. Visit aucklandnz.com to find out more.