The best things to do in Auckland
Naturally beautiful and culturally exciting, Auckland has many riches. Here are five of its finest.
- December 2021
Auckland (Tāmaki Makaurau) is New Zealand’s busiest, buzziest city. Equal parts urban thrills and outdoor adventure, it’s a picturesque harbour city with a stunning natural backdrop of volcanic hills. There’s an amazing food scene here, and cultural activities galore, as well as a whole rainbow of landscapes on its doorstep. You can hit the beaches, explore nearby islands, hike the forests, mountain bike the day away – Auckland really does have it all.
Explore Auckland’s creative, culinary heart: Ponsonby
Auckland is an energetic and creative city with an unbeatable food scene. If you want to take a tasty shortcut to the beating boutique heart of the city, head to Ponsonby, just 10 minutes from the CBD. Spend an afternoon shopping for local designer goods, browsing galleries, drinking coffee and deciding which bar or restaurant you’ll hit that evening. If you’re short on time, Ponsonby Central is a delicious, joyous food hub well worth arriving hungry at. Make sure you keep an eye out for the seasonal Ponsonby Market days too.
Go surfing at Piha
Just 45 minutes west of Auckland, you’ll find the cute seaside town of Piha and its famous black-sand beach. Framed by rugged cliffs, Piha Beach is a surfing mecca, so if you’re up for catching some waves (or just learning how to), you’ll love it here. If surfing is not your thing, how about some rainforest canyoning, where you abseil through misty waterfalls? If that’s all a bit too adrenaline-heavy, pack a picnic and explore the scenic forest walks that weave across Piha’s surrounding hills.
Ferry to Waiheke, island of wine
It might sound like a mirage, but Waiheke Island is deliciously real. Take a 40-minute ferry ride and land on this ‘island of wine’, packed with wineries, vineyards, olive groves and pretty beaches. The views are spectacular from here, so book a wine tasting and lunch, or curate a beach picnic to really soak up the vibes. There are good walking trails on the island, and you can bring your bike over on the ferry so you can ride between wineries.
Base jump (by wire) from Sky Tower
A signature of the Auckland skyline, the now iconic Sky Tower stands 328m tall and offers stunning 360-degree views. There’s a range of restaurants to dine at from your sky-high perch, and you can even do Yoga in the Sky. But hey, New Zealand’s all about adventure, so you’ve got to do the SKYJUMP, right? Not quite bungy jumping, you step off a ledge 192 metres up and whizz all the way down to the bottom, making a smooth landing. If that’s all a bit intense, there’s also the SKYWALK – still thrilling, but with less plummeting!
Explore Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki
Home to the world’s largest permanent collection of New Zealand art, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki is an epic art journey spread across four floors. The works range from traditional to contemporary, and the gallery hosts international touring exhibitions as well. Free tours are available so you can get a deeper understanding of the works. The Creative Learning Centre is a family-friendly area where the kids can get hands-on with materials and interactive activities and unleash their artistic visions.