The best things to do in Auckland

Naturally beautiful and culturally exciting, Auckland has many riches. Here are five of its finest.

Aerial view of Auckland’s SkyTower, city skyline and harbour.  Article images
  • Jetstar
  • 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.

Aerial view of black-sand Piha Beach and Lion Rock, near Auckland, New Zealand.
Piha is an easy-going seaside spot.

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.

Rows on vines in a vineyard on Waiheke Island, with harbour and blue sky in background, near Auckland, New Zealand.
Schedule wine time on Waiheke Island.

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!

People in orange safety suits and rigging lean over the edge of the SKYWALK platform at SkyTower, Auckland, New Zealand.
If you don’t want to base jump, SKYWALK is still pretty thrilling.

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.

Interior view of people looking at art on two levels of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki.
Inside Auckland’s stunning art gallery.