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Soar in the City of Sails

Auckland

Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city and it has a vibrant, colourful flair. The ‘City of Sails’ as it is known, is surrounded by the Hauraki Gulf, Waitemata and Manukau Harbours and has over 40 extinct volcanoes in the region. The highest volcano is Mount Eden which offers 360-degree views over Auckland City and the Hauraki Gulf. Surrounded by coastline, there is a diverse range of beaches to explore.

Where should you visit Auckland?

nz auckland viaduct harbour
Savour the laid-back vibes of Auckland city
A group of friends enjoying a meal at a harbour restaurant
Enjoy good food and drinks at Saint Alice restaurant at the harbour
© Camilla Rutherford

Highlights

Auckland, also known as Tamaki Makaurau, is New Zealand’s most populous city and is a multi-cultural hub of food, music, arts and culture. Most people live within half an hour of beautiful beaches, hiking trails and charming holiday islands.

Add a sunny climate, a Polynesian culture and a passion for exceptional food, wine and shopping, and you have the full package that is Auckland. It's more than just a city, with so much to see and do in the area, it's a journey of discovery.

A group of business people networking at an event on the harbour
Explore Viaduct Harbour for afternoon drinks and upmarket dining
© Chris Sisarich
A sea lion swimming in blue water
Meet cute new friends at Auckland Harbour
© AWADS

Surrounding areas

As well as being the home to New Zealand's largest city, the Auckland region features many unique, diverse places, including the 'island of wine', Waiheke Island.

Auckland Central

This is the heartbeat of Auckland, with a relaxed coastal living vibe by day and buzzing energy by night. Considered one of the most liveable cities in the world, central Auckland offers all the pleasures of urban living set against a backdrop of beautiful coastal scenery.

Discover world-class shopping, restaurants and attractions in the city centre. Splash out on designer fashion, indulge in Pacific-Rim cuisine and discover lively waterfront neighbourhoods.

A woman on a stand up paddle board at sunrise with a view of the city behind her
Relish peaceful morning meditation on your SUP
© Matt Crawford
View of a city at night
While laid back during the day, Auckland comes alive at night

Matakana

The quaint Matakana region is a foodie's heaven. It is known for its weekend farmers market, boutique food shops and spectacular vineyards.

An hour north of Auckland city and close to countless stunning east coast beaches, Matakana is a popular getaway spot for locals and visitors alike. Indulge in home-grown delicacies, enjoy a wine-tasting tour at one of the numerous wineries in the region, and treat yourself to a relaxed gourmet lunch overlooking the vines.

A man and woman sampling a local beer at a brewery
Sample craft beer at Sawmill Brewery
© Camilla Rutherford

Piha

Piha is a wonderfully relaxed seaside village 45 minutes west of Auckland city. The black-sand beach is marked at each end by rugged cliffs and is surrounded by hills of native forest. It is a surfer's paradise and a popular summer get-away for local kiwis.

Master the waves with a few surfing lessons, try abseiling down the Piha canyon or go hiking in the nearby forest. For a day of complete relaxation bring a picnic basket or visit the beachside surf club for a bite to eat.

View of green native forest, blue ocean and rugged cliffs
Pack a surfboard and a picnic basket for a full day of fun
© Scott Venning
A hiking trail in a native forest with sunlight streaming through
For an active beach day go hiking in the nearby forest at Piha beach

There is so much diversity in things to see and do around Auckland.

A trip to any of these incredible neighbourhoods is equally worthwhile:

  • Awhitu Peninsula
  • Kumeu
  • Clevedon
  • Orewa
  • Pukekohe
  • Warkworth
  • Helensville
  • Wellsford
A couple enjoying a meal outside on a sunny day with the ocean in the background
Revel in the sunny weather with exceptional cheese and wine
© Camilla Rutherford
Aerial view of a long stretch of coast with golden sand and blue water
Take a walk along the long stretch of coast at Orewa beach

Things to see and do

Auckland is the perfect mix of city sophistication and a spectacular natural playground. World-class shopping and dining experiences are never too far from the beautiful scenery that includes harbours and islands, volcanic cones, native bush and black-sand beaches.

Discover art and culture

Learn about the Maori history and traditions at the Auckland War Memorial Museum and explore the modern and traditional world-class exhibitions at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki.

Man holding his chin facing multicoloured painted wall
Visitors are drawn to the dazzling art of the city
© Nathan Lee
Man and woman sitting on a bench looking at art
Learn about history and traditions through art
© Dev Benjamin

SkyJump off the Sky Tower

Looking for an adventurous weekend activity? Try jumping off the plane for a heart-stopping experience with Skydive Auckland. Or go for a SkyJump from the iconic Sky Tower, or walk its edge - 192 metres above ground level. And if you still feel like you need a few thrills, head to the Auckland Harbour Bridge for New Zealand's only Bridge Climb or bungy into the Waitemata Harbour.

Explore the Hauraki Gulf on a whale safari

Spend a family-fun weekend spotting the rare marine life on a Whale and Dolphin Safari. The Hauraki Gulf is home to stunning coastlines, vineyards, wildlife sanctuaries, and an active volcano. Spot dolphins, relax on luxury cruises or race an America's Cup yacht. There's an adventure for everyone, from the laid-back to the active.

The area north of Auckland really surprised me. Driving up through the Waipoua National Park and seeing enormous Kauri trees. Or driving down via the east coast with one beach even more pretty than the next.

Judi, Travel specialist
Go bungy jumping off the iconic Sky Tower
Spot whales while on a family cruise

Shopping and markets

Meet locals at the lively Auckland Night Markets, and taste fresh produce and delicious food. It is held at eight different locations across the region on different nights, and you'll be exported on a food journey from the traditional to the delicate. The La Cigale French Market is highly recommended and is open every day except Monday at both Britomart and Parnell.

Spend time exploring the shopping areas in Auckland, offering a world-class collection of boutique and designer stores, alongside art, electronics, jewellery, homewares and high street fashion. If you are into high-end, trendy fashion you will find designer shops in Britomart, Ponsonby and Parnell. For quirky, retro and edgy streetwear Karangahape Road (K'Road) is where you'll want to be.

View of tall buildings of a city during the day
Enjoy some retail therapy in downtown Auckland
Nightime view of a clocktower in a city
Take an evening stroll past the famous clock tower in Ponsonby

Where to eat

Auckland is known for its cosmopolitan vibe and the diverse food options are reflective of that. For those passionate about fresh, seasonal ingredients, Auckland hits the spot.

When it comes to restaurants, you will be spoilt for choice here. Whether you are looking for a classy French bistro, authentic Korean, traditional Italian or a taste of Peru, Auckland has it all. The best dining areas are at the waterfront, in the inner city, in the central suburbs and the northern suburbs.

Sample food from award-winning restaurants with stunning views

Waterfront

If you are looking for great food and even better views, these are the places to be.

  • Wynyard Quarter
  • Viaduct Harbour
  • Mission Bay

Inner City

From casual to classy or modern to traditional, you'll find it all here.

  • Britomart
  • Federal Street
  • City Works Depot
Architectural feature of a train station
Marvel at modern architecture in Britomart
View of a harbour with boats and tall buildings
Take a sunset cruise to see some of the cities top attractions

Central Suburbs

The burbs as they are known offer fine dining and pub grub to everything in between.

  • Ponsonby
  • Parnell and Newmarket
  • Kingsland and Mount Eden

Northern Suburbs

Just a 15-minute drive from the city centre, Takapuna is a stylish but laid-back combination of shopping, dining and a by-the-beach lifestyle.

The seaside village of Devonport is just 12 minutes from downtown Auckland. Hop on a ferry, have lunch by the sea, pick up delicacies at the French café and deli, and stay for dinner where the locals dine.

Aerial view of a leafy suburb with the ocean along the coast
Venture a little further out to Devonport for shopping, drinks and food
Aerial view of a long stretch of golden sand, blue water beach
Spend the day exploring Takapuna beach

Wineries

Just a 40-minute ferry ride from central Auckland, Waiheke Island has over 30 premium wineries and cellar doors producing some of the best wines in New Zealand.

If the best red wine is what you are after, Waiheke Island is where you'll find it. The intense syrah, also known as Shiraz, and bold cabernet blend are grown especially well in the Waiheke coastal terrain. The warm, fertile grounds of Kumeu in West Auckland produce crisp chardonnay and smooth merlot. Just north of Auckland is Matakana, where you will find fruity pinot gris and deep reds.

Green grapes on the vine
Wine-tasting is a must-do in Auckland and surrounds
A group of family having lunch at a restaurant
Experience gourmet food and locally crafted beer on Waiheke Island
© Camilla Rutherford

Winetopia, Auckland wine event

Each year over 60 of the best New Zealand wineries share their best creations at Winetopia. It's a significant event where you can take a 40-minute wine masterclass with expert winemakers and sommeliers. Or, learn some new wine-making tips at the educational talks with industry professionals.

A field of green vineyards
Go on a bicycle tour of the world-class vineyards
A group of people at an event
Rub shoulders with the world's best sommeliers at a wine-making event
© Chris Sisarich

Museums and art galleries

There are at least 25 commercial galleries in Auckland, a few in the inner city, and many along the Karangahape Road 'art mile.'

Here is our selection of museums and galleries to visit:

  • Auckland Art Gallery
  • Auckland Museum
  • New Zealand Maritime Museum
  • Stardome Observatory
  • MOTAT
  • Howick Historical Village
  • Torpedo Bay Navy Museum
  • Heritage New Zealand
Auckland Museum | New Zealand holiday
Visit Auckland Museum for its stunning exhibitions of Maori tradition and culture
Art gallery Auckland | New Zealand holiday
Stroll through the Auckland Art Gallery which displays art from around the world
© TravelEssence
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Parks and nature

Hike, bike, kayak or pack a picnic for a day out at one of Auckland’s parks. The perfect way to see the diversity and beauty of the landscape. Take a stroll across grasslands or trek through dense native rainforest. Soak up the views from a clifftop or go for a picnic on a golden-sand beach. Pack your flip-flops or your hiking boots and get out and explore Auckland's natural side.

Each park has unique features and its own appeal:

  • Albert Park
  • Cornwall Park
  • Auckland Domain
  • Bastion Point
  • Western Springs Park
A yellow flower with green leaves
Discover a variety of flora and fauna
© Arno Retief
Aerial view of a green grass crater and city background
Explore natural phenomenons like Eden crater

The regional parks may require a bit of a drive or cycle to get to but they are no less beautiful and definitely worth a visit.

Regional Parks

  • Hunua Ranges Regional Park
  • Long Bay Regional Park
  • Shakespear Regional Park
  • Waitakere Ranges Regional Park
  • Tawharanui Regional Park
A green grass crater
Spend time in urban nature at one of the many parks
A white lamb in a green field
Drive out to a regional park to experience a taste of countryside

Public transport

Auckland's public transport is a great and easy way to get around. Travel by train, bus or ferry throughout the inner city and the wider region, with regular routes to most major attractions and the main shopping, dining and entertainment areas.

Britomart, in downtown Auckland, is the main transport centre. This is where many bus and train journeys start and finish. Ferries also arrive and depart from downtown Auckland, just a two-minute walk from Britomart. Several bus and train stations and some ferry departure points also have park and ride facilities – ideal if you’ve got a hire car or you’re staying longer.

View of a road leading into a city surrounded by turquoise water
Use public transport to navigate Auckland easily
Night time view of a bridge over water
Capture the magical evening light at Auckland Harbour Bridge

Islands

Waiheke Island (the island of wine)

Waiheke is a haven of beautiful vineyards, olive groves and beaches, all just a 40-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland. In landscape, lifestyle and experience, Waiheke is a world away.

The white sandy beaches at Oneroa, Palm Beach and Onetangi slope gently down into the Hauraki Gulf and are perfect for swimming, kayaking, or having a picnic. Hike the trails which meander along cliff tops, down to the beaches and into cool native forest.

Two men sitting at a table in a beautiful winery
Have a leisurely lunch pairing wine and food
© Camilla Rutherford
A group of people sitting at a table learning about distilling drinks
Join a group and learn about distilling botanicals
© Camilla Rutherford

Rangitoto Island

Rangitoto is Auckland’s most iconic island, with its distinctive symmetrical cone and magnificent location just off the coast. Only a short ferry ride across the harbour from downtown Auckland, the island is a favourite destination for hikers and day-trippers.

Walk up to the summit of Rangitoto Island on foot (approximately 1 hour each way) and see the black lava caves on your way up. The views from the top are spectacular - you'll be able to see everything from the emerald islands of the Hauraki Gulf to the horizons of the Waitakere Ranges in the west and Hunua Ranges in the east.

Two people going on a sunset kayak on the ocean
Go on an overnight sunset kayak to Rangitoto Island
© Miles Holden
A family hiking through forest
Hike through dense forest to the summit for spectacular views
© Fraser Clements

Great Barrier Island

Great Barrier Island is a large island with a small population of 1000 people. The forests, beaches and bays provide opportunities for all kinds of wilderness adventures. The 90-kilometre journey from Auckland city takes about 4.5 hours by fast ferry or you can catch a 30-minute flight with Barrier Air.

The native forest has beautiful walking tracks, which lead to secluded natural hot springs and a historic Kauri dam. Along the way, you'll pass unique plant and bird species which are found in this wilderness area. Rising 627 metres above the sea, Hirakimata (Mount Hobson) is for hikers looking for incredible 360-degree views.

Sunset view of an island
Experience a magnificent sunset on Great Barrier Island

Great Barrier Island is the first in the world to be designated as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary – with only ten other places. Explore the native forest, and visit the rare wildlife of Glenfern Sanctuary or kayak at Medlands Beach.

Aerial view of a coastline
Go for a hike to appreciate the spectacular views
A whale in the harbour
Spot whales in the harbour and on the coast

Where to stay?

Make your trip extra special by experiencing a unique stay from our large collection of hand-selected accommodations located in Auckland and its surrounds. Your travel specialist will match you with accommodation that suits your wants and needs. A journey where your accommodation is an experience in itself.

A deck overlooking the ocean
Relax and enjoy reading quietly on the deck
A spacious light bedroom with sea views
Rejuvenate in comfortable, stylish accommodation

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