Popularly known as the gateway to New Zealand’s North island, Auckland is a large cosmopolitan city. If you are flying to New Zealand, it is likely you will be landing in Auckland. The cityscape might be alluring, but what’s even more exciting is that Auckland is surrounded by rain forests and even a few dormant volcanoes! Here’s a quick look at 10 must see places in Auckland you didn’t know about.
Before you head out, note this: The best time to visit Auckland is at the end of May and the beginning of September. These months offer pleasant temperatures and thin tourist crowds. November to March, being peak season, might see a bit of crowds.
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1. Sky Tower
Activity – Adventure Dining
How would you like to jump from 630 ft into thin air? The Sky Tower in Auckland is where you could do this. The sky jump is a guide cable controlled to prevent the jumpers from colliding with the tower. So while you have your adrenaline moments, you stay safe as well. The Sky Tower is not only an observation and telecommunications tower, but is also home to New Zealand’s only revolving restaurant – turning 360 degrees every hour. Isn’t that exciting? And you thought the Sky Tower was just another tower! Talking of adrenalin rushes, New Zealand has the world’s largest swings – the Nevis swings. And our travellers actually experienced it!
2. Island of Wine – Waiheke in Hauraki Gulf
Activity – Wine-tasting Adventure Dining
Who would not like to sip freshly extracted vineyard wine? Waiheke houses quite a number of beautiful vineyards, wineries, olive groves, farmlands and golden beaches. Guided tours are available for tasting wines and lunching at the vineyards. When you’ve had your fill of wining and dining, feel the sand between your toes and drench yourself in the clear blue waters at Oneroa and Onetangi Beaches. The adventurous souls can try horse-riding, archery and laser clay pigeon shooting, hire a scooter, take a scenic flight or zoom across the treetops on a flying fox zip line. Apart from the regular passenger ferry that takes you to the Island of Wine, you can also take a car ferry, a scenic flight, a helicopter or even a seaplane. Definitely one of the 10 must see places in Auckland! If the rest of New Zealand is on your itinerary, here’s what you must have a look at.
Activity – Adventure Racing Shopping
Experience fear, terror, unbelievable horror and of course laughter at the Spookers. You will be chased by chainsaw-wielding zombies and hungry monsters while you try to navigate through a scary forest, haunted house and a corn field. There is no escaping these creatures of the dead. Remember R.16. Watch ITM Auckland SuperSprint on the tracks each November at Pukekohe Park Raceway. Or do you want to splash some paint over? Don’t miss the Asylum Paintball where you can find a range of them. At the Franklin Market, you can find some traditional bone carvings, fresh produce, and handmade jewelry. You can ride the vintage steam train that runs along the countryside at the Glenbrook Vintage Railway.
4. Karangahape ‘K’ Road
Activities – Shopping Dining Clubbing
Unique is the word to describe K Road in Auckland famous for its bars, small shops, cafes, restaurants and clubs. You’ll find everything from handmade jewellery to locally made furnishing, antiques and more. A preferred gathering spot for artists, writers, students and musicians, this is where you should stretch out your legs after a shopping spree. Warning: Cuisine samples from across the world is on offer here, prepared to be flummoxed with choice! The local cuisine itself has quite a bit to explore, have a look at some uniquely Kiwi cuisine. This is also souvenir land, so keep aside a budget for some awesome Kiwi keepsakes.
5. Matakana Farmer’s Market
Activity – Wine-tasting Shopping Dining
Stroll through Matakana Farmer’s Market on saturdays if you want to pick up fresh local and organic produce. Find everything from delicious cheeses, olive oils, artisan breads, gourmet spreads, craft beers, paua fritter and more. It is “Food Perfect”. Sample wines in the vineyard and indulge in a sumptuous lunch overlooking the vines. Don’t miss browsing through the art and craft galleries to find excellent paintings by the local artists. Trail along the quiet beaches or just have a picnic to yourself.
Activity – Shopping Clubbing Salon
Newmarket is where New Zealand shops! Get local, and browse through the mall’s popular stores and skip in to buy your favourite Kiwi brands. Wander down Broadway and along the Nuffield Street for designer apparel. In need of a makeover? Treat yourself to hair, beauty and spa treatments at the top salons and health spas: trust us, you won’t regret it! Auckland’s nightlife is very much happening, start your evening with the infamous Fergburger and hang out to explore the city. Play a game of ten pin bowling with your friends or float in the Olympic pool, catch a movie or explore the history, architecture and gardens of the Highwic Gothic house built in 1862.
7. Mission Bay and St Heliers
Activity – Adventure Dining Aquarium
These beachfront suburbs are filled with eateries, shops and adventurous activities. Take a dip in the sea, hire a kayak or try stand up paddle boarding or just relax with family. For a guided kayaking tour of nearby islands, head to St Heliers boat ramp. You can choose between a half day tour, full day tour or sunset experience. Walk, jog, cycle or roller blade with the locals along scenic Tamaki Drive. Tuck into fresh fish and chips or a delicious gelato on the beach with great views to company. Check out Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium to see the world’s largest Antarctic penguin colony exhibit as well as stingrays, sharks, and thousands of fish in the walk-through aquarium.
8. Great Barrier Island
Activity – Adventure Wildlife
Nature lovers, here is your chance to explore the trails and wildlife of Aotea. Take a one-hour walk for a dip in the natural hot pools at Kaitoke Hot Springs. Soak up the scenery and feel your stress melt away. Discover the island’s wildlife, with excellent bird watching, snorkeling and dive spots. The protected forest, clean waters and conservation efforts have allowed wildlife to thrive in its habitat. Swim, surf or kayak at the island’s spectacular beaches and bays, including the stunning Medlands Beach. Charter a fishing boat or join a heli-fishing tour to find the best fishing spots around the island.
9. Māori galleries
Activity – Art
Start your New Zealand trip with a glimpse into the history of the country. The Maori tribes are settlers from eastern Polynesia who brought to New Zealand their rich heritage and culture. Auckland Museum preserves and cares for its significant collection of Māori treasures (taonga). Over 1000 taonga are showcased in the main Māori galleries, He Taonga Māori (Māori Court) and Te Ao Tūroa (Māori Natural History Gallery) and many more held in storage. These taonga are the ancestral representations of all the major tribes of Aotearoa. Visit these galleries to unravel the great stories behind the legends and be pulled into a world of fantasy.
10. Waitematā Harbour
Activity – Adventure
For those adrenaline filled moments, Waitemata Harbour is where you should head to. With a name that roughly translates to ‘sparkling waters’ in Maori language, Waitemata Harbour does not disappoint. An activity in Auckland that really showcases the true Kiwi spirit is the 40 metre Auckland Bridge Bungy. Bungy operator AJ Hackett operates bungy jump and offers a bridge climb with views of the city and the harbour. This must be on top of your to-do list!
Got your bags packed yet? Here’s the next step!