Flying into one of the busiest regions with the the biggest city in New Zealand and looking to kill some time before you head off on your adventure across? Here’s my top 10 things to do in Auckland from eating in the city to explore the ranges and beaches on offer.
(Note: some of these activities talk about hiring a car, I’ve listed some information on this at the bottom of this post).
1. Visit Waiheke Island
Simply the best, and shortest, day trip from Auckland you need to make. Starting with the scenic ferry journey, you’ll wave goodbye to the hustle and bustle of the city and enter a world of wineries, beer tasting and fish and chips. You can hire buses to take you round in groups or use the hop-on-hop-off sightseeing bus to visit all the best wineries for some early morning tastings. Fuller’s offer this service so head on to their website for itineraries they provide or to look at the maps and decide where you want to head and if you’re lucky, you may even get a free dolphin encounter on the ferry ride across!
2. Visit Rangitoto
No longer active, this old volcano is just a short ferry ride from Downtown Auckland and is a great way to pass a morning whilst getting the heart rate up and enjoying some beautiful views of Auckland.
3. Climb Mt. Eden
Well documented in other travel blogs and on sites such as Lonely Planet, climbing Mt. Eden is a beautiful way to see the city from above whilst only being just a short 10 minute bus ride out of the city. Take a picnic with you and relax for a couple of hours just watching the world go by.
4. Visit the Western Beaches
If you can, hire a car or find someone with a car and take the 50 minute drive out West of Auckland to watch the sun go down or have a fun filled day swimming in the sea and working on your tan (during the summer anyway!) on some of the most relaxed beaches within Auckland. I highly recommend Piha, Bethell’s Beach or Muriwai for some of the most magical views.
5. Visit the North Shore
Hop on a ferry or bus from the city and enjoy the towns and beaches of the North Shore. You can get to Devonport in just a few minutes and enjoy one of the local restaurants or climb up Mt Victoria for views on the city and North Shore. Head slightly further North and you’ll reach Takapuna. With the university nearby, this a student town but with it brings amazing places to eat and a beach to relax on. If you want a full beach day, head to Browns Bay with a beautiful beach and amazing eateries or head slightly further on towards Long Bay.
6. Viaduct / Wynyard Quarter
Boasting some slightly higher end drinks and food, these two areas of Auckland Downtown are situation on the waterfront and are perfect spots to end a busy day or to spend the night if you looking for a dance.
7. Dominion Road
Looking for some cheaper eats? This is your spot. About a 15 minute bus journey out of the city, you’ll find yourself with a variety of small eateries priced very reasonably (expect to find trays of dumplings for a mere $13). Check out New Flavour or General Kai and you won’t be disappointed!
8. Puhoi Valley
With a relaxed cafe and amazing cheese shop, make sure you head up to Puhoi Valley and enjoy the food on offer whilst taking some time to relax. This stop is around a 40 minute drive from the CBD so you need a car for this one! Visit their website for more information.
9. Waitakere Ranges
These ranges hold a variety of walks including the Arataki Visitors Centre. Head on over the Department of Conservation for all the walks within these ranges and always remember to wipe and brush down your boots when entering and exiting each trail to help fight Kauri Die Back Disease.
10. Auckland Night Markets
Popping up around the city most nights of the week, check out of the Night Markets which offer a range of different food stall vendors and craft stalls. The closest one to the city is on Fort Street in the CBD on a Friday night and a one on Elliott Street on Saturday night! To find out more on where they’re held, click here.
Auckland has this and so much more to offer (Auckland Domain, all the mounts that you climb, extensive ranges and gorgeous walks through suburbs) so whatever you decide to do, Auckland has something on offer for everyone to fill out the time before your big trip around New Zealand!
Information on car hire
When it comes to hiring a car in Auckland you have plenty of options. You have your standard rental companies (Jucy, Hertz etc.) but here we also have a site called YourDrive. This is where local Jafa’s (the nickname for Aucklanders) will advertise their cars that they’re willing to let people hire. This is definitely a great way of hiring a car as you get to meet locals, help them earn some extra cash and you can find some great cars at great rates!