Things to do in Auckland
Auckland is New Zealand's largest city and main transport hub, but it's more than just a starting point to your New Zealand holiday. With magnificent natural scenery and a vibrant city lifestyle, Auckland is a nice place to spend a few days either at the beginning or end of your trip.
Auckland is a harbour city, so getting out on the water is a must-do activity to appreciate its location. Hop on a Fullers harbour cruise from downtown for a relaxing 1.5 hours of sightseeing on the beautiful Hauraki Gulf. Take in views of the Harbour Bridge, the city skyline, Devonport’s historic naval base, Bean Rock Lighthouse with a stopover at Rangitoto Island to experience its unique volcanic terrain.
Feeling brave? Auckland’s Sky Walk is at the top of New Zealand’s tallest building, Sky Tower. Using only a safety harness while walking on a one meter wide platform with no handrails, you'll walk 360 degrees around the external circumference of the tower suspended 192 meters above the ground, with nothing but air next to you. During your SkyWalk you’ll stop at various points to have your photo taken, learn some Auckland history, and have a go at leaning over the edge. Just do it.
Devonport is a harbourside suburb on the North Shore just 10 minutes ferry ride from Auckland's CBD and is full of charm and character. You'll find it more relaxed then the city centre and a great place to wonder, enjoy a coffee or sit on the beach for some quiet time with lovely views of Auckland on offer. Take a walk around Torpedo Bay along the harbour's edge to North Head and discover World War II defences that run deep into a volcanic cone, before heading down onto Cheltenham Beach, one of the North Shore's prettiest seaside suburbs. Ferries to and from Devonport depart every half hour.
Takapuna Beach is New Zealand's best urban beach, and on a fine day you'll appreciate the breathtaking coastline and view of volcanic Rangitoto island. Besides the beach, Takapuna is a vibrant seaside suburb with trendy shops, swanky cafes, a bustling Sunday market and is considered the lifestyle capital of Auckland's North Shore.
Rugby at Eden Park
New Zealand is rugby mad and obsessed with their beloved All Blacks. Their players are treated like god and appear constantly in all forms of media and advertising. The mood of the entire country rides on the back of the results of their national team. There is no better place to watch an All Blacks rugby game than at their home ground, Eden Park in Auckland.
Eat & Drink
Auckland surprised me with its food and drink options and was quite a memorable experience of my visit. There is a wide variety of restaurants in different areas of the city.
A vibrant shopping, entertainment and business precinct in the heart of downtown Auckland, Britomart is surrounded by beautiful heritage buildings and is a neighbourhood of buzzing restaurants, cool bars, designer boutiques and quirky art spaces. My pick - Shaky Isles cafe. Housed in a spacious historic building, it has plenty to look at with signature cartoon graphics on the walls, offbeat interior design details and large-scale text reminders of why coffee is good for you, especially their mocha!
Viaduct Harbour is an entertainment, residential and commercial district. Bars, cafes and restaurants wrap around the harbour that houses many super yachts and pleasure crafts. It’s a great place to eat and people watch. My pick - Degree. I was there on a Monday night and it was Mussel Madness night. A whole kilo of mussels marinated in a spiced coconut & lemongrass broth. New Zealand is known for their mussels and these did not disappoint. This vibrant and popular restaurant sits right on the harbour giving you nice views to experience with a few jugs of the flavourful Monetieth Golden beer.
North Wharf Wynard Quarter is another public space that caters to public art, gardens, pubs and restaurants. There is even a piano on the wharf that you can jump on and play if you feel the urge to create a desirable harbour side community. The North Wharf is where the exciting eateries are. My pick - Jack Tar. There is a cool beer garden at the back of Jack Tar and during happy hour you can enjoy a couple of watery Steinlagers. Hey, as long as it is cold and gold right? Jack Tar is a gastropub serving a selection of food from gourmet pizzas to steaks and seafood.
Did you know that New Zealand has some pretty good local beer? I didn’t either. The Hallertau Brewbar and Restaurant, a New Zealand first, is nestled in the greenery of Riverhead, only a twenty minute drive from the city. With it’s combination of brewing and epicurean lifestyle, Hallertau will tempt you to sit back and enjoy for a couple of hours. Try the tasting tray to start, and the food is damn good too.
West Brook Winery
West Brook is a boutique family-owned winery established in 1935 and have won multiple awards for their wines. The cellar door looks across an idyllic duck pond and terraced picnic area to row after row of Waimauku vines, making for a picturesque setting to sit and get to know one of West Brook’s award winning bottles of wine and a picnic lunch. It was hard to choose just one to take home, I settled on a bottle of 2008 Reserve Pinot Noir.