1 November 2015

Things to do in Auckland

Make sure you go exploring while you’re in Auckland, whether you’ve got a few spare days or a few spare hours.

There’s loads to do in the heart of the city, plus adventures in every direction. From the fancy to the fun, the crazy to the cultured, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Here’s just a taste of what Auckland has to offer.

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Action and adventure

If you want to kick start the adrenaline before the big event, or if you’ve still got energy to burn afterwards, then look no further.

A trip to the Sky Tower’s observation deck is a must for the best 360 degree views in town, but you can do more than just see the sights. 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 on a narrow platform 192 metres above ground – 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. You can even finish your climb with a bungy jump off the bridge for a double dose of excitement.

There’s plenty more on offer for action junkies – go canyoning in the Waitakere Ranges, race down the indoor ski run at Snowplanet or swim with the sharks at Kelly Tarlton's SEA LIFE Aquarium.

Hauraki Gulf’s beautiful islands

Auckland is surrounded by water, so it’s no wonder Lonely Planet named Auckland Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf as the number one experience in New Zealand. The gulf is dotted with beautiful islands, many of them just a short ferry ride from downtown Auckland.

After pushing yourself to the limit, there’s no better place to unwind than Waiheke Island. 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.

While you’re there, check out EcoZip Adventures, one of Auckland’s newest and coolest activities, with three dual ziplines (state-of-the-art flying foxes) that take you zipping high above the trees.

Tiritiri Matangi Island is an open wildlife sanctuary and one of the most successful conservation projects in the world. ‘Tiri’ is a great spot for nature lovers and it’s 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.

Explore Auckland's youngest and most distinctive volcano, Rangitoto Island. Go hiking through volcanic terrain, climb through lava caves and learn about its fascinating history. If your legs need a rest you can take a guided tour on the 4WD road train to the top. Either way you’ll be blown away by the panoramic views from the summit. 

If you’re keen to discover a ‘diamond in the rough’, travel by light plane to Great Barrier Island, renowned for its remoteness and rugged beauty. Hit one of the walking trails to discover natural hot springs and 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

Take the time to enjoy some of the many water activities Auckland has to offer – they’re all right on your doorstep after all.

Go sea kayaking and explore the nearby islands or get your thrills with a jet boat ride on the harbour, 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. 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.

If you’d rather chill out after all your hard work, enjoy a relaxing harbour dinner cruise out on the magnificent Waitemata Harbour. 

Take a walk on the wild side

Animal lovers will find plenty of chances to get up close and personal to 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. It’s home to 138 different species and over 860 animals and with incredible themed spaces it is recognised as one of the most progressive zoos in the world. Why not go on a private tour and get a glimpse behind the scenes or feed the animals?

Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium is one of the city’s top attractions. Walk 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.

For some unforgettable memories, go whale and dolphin spotting out in the 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.

Culture fix

After a recovery breakfast in the Atrium of the stunning Auckland Museum, feed your mind with a stroll through the galleries. Alternatively, wander through more than 15,000 traditional and contemporary artworks at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki.

And to learn more about Māori culture and history, join the Tamaki Hikoi for an interactive guided walk around Maungawhau (Mount Eden). Your guide from the local tribe Ngati Whatua will highlight the archaeological features of the cone and share the stories that shaped Auckland's past.

Food and wine

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 dining 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 too.

After a few hours on your feet with the marathon, sharing a good bottle of wine between friends is a great way to wind down. Besides enjoying a tipple in a bar or restaurant, there are also plenty of Auckland vineyards and regions to explore.

Beautiful Waiheke Island has some 30 boutique wineries where you can sample award-winning wines and enjoy cuisine to match. If you fancy a day trip, take a scenic drive north to the Matakana region, renowned for its wineries and local organic produce, or head west to Kumeu, Auckland’s oldest wine-growing region. 

Golf

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.

There are more than 40 courses throughout the Auckland region, so golf enthusiasts are sure to find the perfect round.

The wild west

There aren't many places where rugged coastline and black sand beaches are within arm's reach of a metropolitan city, however there are some great adventures to be had on Auckland’s doorstep.

The west coast is famous for its expansive rainforest and powerful surf at 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.

Retail therapy

Even if shorts and runners are more your style, there’s always room in the closet for some fancy new threads.

Wander through the newly revamped Britomart precinct, where the beautifully restored heritage buildings now house the flagship stores of some of New Zealand’s most internationally successful designers, including Trelise Cooper, Karen Walker and Zambesi, plus top international fashion and beauty labels.

Local labels and a mix of homeware stores are also clustered around the High Street/Chancery/Vulcan Lane quarter of the city, and the hip fringe suburbs of Ponsonby, Parnell and Newmarket. For something more casual, there’s a wide range of local fashion stores and malls throughout Auckland.

There's an amazing amount to see and do in Auckland so make sure you get out and about. Visit AucklandNZ.com for more ideas.

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