Nau mai, haere mai Welcome to Auckland
Urban style and spectacular landscapes go hand in hand in New Zealand’s largest city.
Climb an ancient volcano or shop unique local designers. Dine at waterfront restaurants or go dolphin spotting in the Hauraki Gulf. Dive into the nightlife or bungy jump off the Harbour Bridge. Learn about Maori culture or wander through stunning vineyards. Escape to idyllic island beaches or discover Auckland’s vibrant arts scene.
With so many experiences so close by in Auckland, it’s easy to hop from one adventure to the next.
Top 10 Things to do
1. Soak up the views from Auckland’s volcanoes
Photo opportunities don’t come any better than from the top of Auckland’s 48 volcanic cones. Hop on the ferry to the youngest and largest of the region’s volcanoes, Rangitoto Island, and walk through the p¯ohutukawa forest and lava caves, or take the 4WD road train to the top.
Climb to the summit of Mount Eden (Maungawhau), the highest natural point in Auckland, for spectacular views across the city and Hauraki Gulf. Choose a picnic spot in the beautiful parkland surrounding One Tree Hill (Maungakiekie) and discover one of the largest former Māori settlement complexes in New Zealand. Explore the historic underground tunnels and gun emplacements up North Head in the seaside village of Devonport.
2. Mild or wild on the water
With the sea on the city’s doorstep, there are so many ways to get out on Auckland’s sparkling harbours.
Kayak out to Rangitoto Island, help sail an America’s Cup racing yacht, join a whale and dolphin spotting eco-safari or take a spin on a high-speed jet boat ride. Land a big one on a fishing charter, or unwind and see the sights with a relaxing dinner or coffee cruise on the Waitemata Harbour. Charter a yacht for a special occasion, or experience a slice of history on a traditional Māori sailing waka (canoe).
3. Set your watch to island time
Explore Auckland’s magnificent Hauraki Gulf and its beautiful islands. The jewel of the gulf is Waiheke Island, a haven of vineyards, olive groves and beaches just a 40-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland. Visit the wineries, check out the vibrant arts scene, indulge in fine dining, or get active on the walking and mountain biking trails.
For an exciting day trip, discover the fascinating history and sandy coves of Rotoroa Island, climb the volcanic cone of Rangitoto Island for incredible views from the summit, or visit Tiritiri Matangi Island, an open wildlife sanctuary alive with birdsong. If you have a little more time, escape to Great Barrier Island, whose wild, lush landscapes will take your breath away.
4. Beach life
You’re never far from the sea in Auckland. Experienced surfers ride the waves at the black-sand surf beaches on the wild west coast – check out favourites like Karekare, Piha, Te Henga (Bethells Beach) and Muriwai. Head north to the expansive golden sands and clear waters of Tāwharanui and Pakiri. For a memorable Auckland experience, go horse riding along Pakiri or Muriwai Beach.
If you’re looking for a beach near the city centre, visit Mission Bay, Kohimarama or St Heliers, just a 10-minute drive from downtown Auckland. Enjoy a stroll along the promenade, hire a kayak or stand up paddleboard, or tuck into fresh fish and chips. You’ll also find a range of cool cafés and ice cream shops, as well as playgrounds for the kids.
5. Wining and dining
Auckland’s vibrant food and wine scene serves up something for every taste – from modern New Zealand dishes to cuisine from every corner of the globe. And with hundreds of cafés and restaurants you can choose from a casual meal to five-star dining.
Dine overlooking the water at Viaduct Harbour or Wynyard Quarter, or take your pick from the eclectic restaurants in the stylish Britomart and Federal Street precincts. Hip Ponsonby is home to modern cafés and eateries, or grab a casual bite or craft beer at City Works Depot. The inner city suburbs of Mount Eden and Kingsland are full of lively restaurants and buzzing bars, or pop over to Takapuna on the North Shore to dine at one of the restaurants facing the beach. For ideas on where to eat, take a look at the Top 50 Restaurants and Top 100 Cheap Eats list from Metro magazine – the annual awards are the go-to inspiration for Aucklanders.
As well as Auckland’s varied dining precincts, you can pick up delectable artisan foods at some of the superb farmers’ markets or join a foodie tour for a behind-the-scenes experience and tastings.
6. On the wine trail
Auckland has not one but three distinctive wine regions, producing superb wines in a range of varietals.
Beautiful Waiheke Island is a must for wine lovers, with 30 boutique wineries and vineyards dotted across the island – all surrounded by glorious scenery. North of the city, Matakana’s wine trail takes you through picturesque countryside to a number of boutique wineries, many of them close to some of Auckland’s most spectacular beaches, including idyllic Tāwharanui. Kumeu, in the west, is Auckland’s oldest wine-growing region and home to both well-known labels and small family-run vineyards.
Enjoy tastings on one of the many wine tours on offer, or use the wine trail maps and self-drive to explore at your own pace. And if the sun’s shining, you can’t go past a lazy lunch overlooking the vines.
7. Make tracks
Explore rocky coastlines and sheltered bays, lush native forest and wide open countryside, pounding surf and trickling streams, or remote wildlife sanctuaries and bustling city streets.
Architecture enthusiasts will enjoy the Auckland City Heritage Walk for a glimpse into the city’s most historically significant areas, taking in beautiful heritage buildings. Those looking for striking landscapes are spoilt for choice with Auckland’s 26 regional parks offering hundreds of biking and walking tracks, which range from short easy walks to challenging multi-day hikes.
There are few places in the world where you can walk from one ocean to another in just four or five hours. The Coast to Coast Walkway takes you through city and suburban streets, parks and volcanic cones for great 360-degree views, and you can discover some of Auckland’s Māori and colonial history.
Experience Great Barrier Island’s wild beauty on the Aotea Track, a two-to-three-day walk. Looping the island’s central mountainous area, you’ll walk through pristine native forest, with top spots including Kaitoke Hot Springs, Windy Canyon lookout and historical sites. The views are simply incredible.
8. Get up close to the wildlife
Hear the birdsong and soak up the scenery at the world renowned open wildlife sanctuary of Tiritiri Matangi Island. Head out on the Hauraki Gulf, one of the most diverse marine environments in the world, to see whales and dolphins in their natural habitat. Swim, snorkel and dive at New Zealand’s first marine reserve, Goat Island, and learn more at the Marine Discovery Centre.
Visit Auckland Zoo to see the largest collection of native and exotic animals in New Zealand, get up close to stingrays, sharks and penguins at Kelly Tarlton’s SEA LIFE Aquarium, or visit Butterfly Creek to see the new kiwi enclosure, giant saltwater crocodiles, farm animals and hundreds of colourful butterflies.
9. Press play
For thrill seekers, Auckland is one big playground. As well as the incredible views from the observation deck at the Sky Tower, you can SkyJump off it in a base jump by wire, or test your bravery with a SkyWalk around the outside on a narrow platform 192m above the ground. See the city sights on the back of a Harley Davidson motorbike, or try ziplining high above the trees on Waiheke Island.
Water lovers are spoilt for choice – go jet boating, sailing or heli-fishing, or take a ride on a sea plane for a bird’s eye view. Climb under, up and over the Auckland Harbour Bridge or leap off it in New Zealand’s only ocean-touch bungy.
10. Discover Auckland’s arts, culture and history
More than 200 different ethnic communities call Auckland home and it is this diversity that makes the city’s art, cultural experiences and history so fascinating.
Discover the world-class exhibitions in the beautiful Auckland Museum and see one of the daily cultural performances for an insight into Māori traditions. Wander through more than 15,000 traditional and contemporary artworks and see visiting exhibitions at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, or join an art and culture tour in the city.
Combine beautiful scenery and modern Kiwi art at the outdoor Brick Bay Sculpture Trail in Matakana wine country, or the recently opened Sculptureum, where a finely curated collection of international sculpture sits in lush tropical gardens and indoor galleries. Pick up your own piece of local art at one of the great galleries in Devonport, Parnell, or Waiheke Island.
History lovers can learn about the country’s rich maritime heritage at the New Zealand Maritime Museum, visit a replica 17th century Māori village at Te Hana Te Ao Marama, or experience Te Haerenga, a guided walking tour of Rangitoto Island and neighbouring Motutapu Island led by a knowledgable Ngāi Tai tribal guide.
Dining & shopping precincts
Like any great city, Auckland is made up of diverse precincts and neighbourhoods, each with their own distinct flavour and style.
Auckland’s lively dining scene serves up an impressive variety of cuisine, from five-star fare created by internationally renowned chefs to casual café dishes. The city’s melting pot of cultures is reflected in the diversity of flavours around the world, alongside signature New Zealand and Pacific Rim styles.
The city’s world-class shopping is just as diverse – from luxury international labels, cutting-edge New Zealand design and modern interiors, to vintage finds, high street fashion and quirky Kiwi art.
When the historic Britomart precinct was given a contemporary makeover, it quickly became the star of Auckland’s dining scene – and one of the city’s premium shopping destinations.
Within Britomart’s compact block of cobbled laneways, streets and open spaces is an eclectic collection of hip bars, cafés and restaurants. The district’s heritage buildings have been transformed with funky new fitouts, from a revamped industrial garage to minimalist modern spaces. Keep it casual with artisan French pastries and great coffee, or indulge in contemporary Vietnamese, Japanese, Mexican, Cajun and Creole flavours, fresh seafood, or something sweet at a specialty dessert restaurant.
Understated or avant-garde, Britomart is the place fashion lovers come to stay ahead of the trends. Browse the latest season’s collections in the flagship stores of some of New Zealand’s most famous designers, including Trelise Cooper, Zambesi, Karen Walker, Kate Sylvester and WORLD, alongside emerging creative talent. Shop for leading international beauty labels like M.A.C, Jo Malone and L’Occitane, plus luxury footwear brands, designer sportswear and bespoke tailored menswear.
From luxurious fine dining to New York Deli dishes, gourmands will find style and substance in equal measure here.
Recently given a complete overhaul, the Federal Street district is Auckland’s newest foodie precinct. A number of the eateries feature internationally renowned chefs, including Al Brown, Peter Gordon, Sean Connolly and Nic Watt.
Indulge in freshly shucked oysters, authentic tapas, exquisite Italian, Japanese robata or contemporary New Zealand cuisine. With lots of seating on the cobblestones outside and a living green wall, diners linger for the atmosphere as much as the after-dinner drinks.
CITY WORKS DEPOT
Another foodie hot spot is City Works Depot, a collection of quirky casual eateries in a revamped industrial area.
Odettes Eatery has a charming and relaxed ambiance, serving local produce driven cuisine in a beautiful light-filled space. Al Brown’s popular Best Ugly serves up hand-rolled, woodfired bagels and the Food Truck Garage has proven a big hit with its healthy take on fast food. Craft beer lovers might find it hard deciding between the 200 odd beers at Brother’s Beer, a brewery complete with tasting lounge and retail store. Get Healthy with The Raw Kitchen’s delectable counter treats and cold pressed juices, try sushi from &Sushi and enjoy floral art with your coffee or wine at The Botanist, a cafe by day, wine bar at night and florist seven days a week.
The sleek superyachts moored at Viaduct Harbour make for good-looking dining companions.
With a multitude of cafes, bars and restaurants to choose from, The Viaduct – as the area is better known – is the perfect spot for a laidback lunch and a chilled glass of wine in the sun. Enjoy ‘east meets west’ fusion street food at White and Wongs or combine views, brews and bowling at Dr Rudi’s rooftop bar, with an on-site brewery and yes, two bowling lanes.
Princes Wharf lies between the Viaduct Basin and the historic ferry building, making it the perfect spot to stroll with a gelato looking out over the Waitemata Harbour. You’ll also find a mixture of restaurants and bars offering fusion cuisine from the Pacific, Mediterranean, Asia, Latin America and South America. Try fresh seafood at Euro, shared plates at The Culpeper, Churrascaria meat at Wildfire or High Tea at Bellini Bar in the five-star Hilton Hotel.
An extensive redevelopment of this perfectly positioned waterfront precinct has given it a new lease on life.
Waterside eateries offer everything from Spanish tapas and woodfired BBQ smoked meat to American Southern at Miss Clawdy, modern Italian at Baduzzi, Turkish at the lavish Feriza’s Kitchen and craft beer a-plenty at 16 Tonne. Wynyard Quarter becomes even livelier in summer when art, music and cultural events take over. On Friday nights, people fill up on delicious street food from Silo Park’s food trucks before watching a movie under the stars at the outdoor cinema. On Saturday afternoons, wander through the stalls of jewellery, art, clothing and food at the popular Silo Markets.
Auckland’s historic ferry building is home to some of the city’s most popular restaurants. The sophisticated Harbourside Ocean Bar Grill is the premium spot to enjoy succulent seafood overlooking the harbour. Dine at Botswana Butchery for a fun experience in plush surrounds right on the water or try fresh oysters from the Oyster bar at The Shucker Brothers seaside eatery. You can also enjoy a gelato and coffee from The Island Gelato Company.
Auckland’s shopping capital is undergoing a major upgrade, with large-scale development underway across a number of premium sites, including the Westfield mall and Farmer’s site next door. Many international labels and high-end retailers are in temporary locations due to the scale of construction, however it’s business as usual for most of the high-street shops on Broadway and designer boutiques on Nuffield St and Teed St.
Among the offerings for shoppers are illustrious New Zealand and international labels, luxe beauty products, modern homewares and stylish accessories, unique art and beautiful gifts. Great spots for eating include the light and airy eatery Cali, Little and Friday for delicious sweet treats, L’Affare Melrose with a sleek industrial interior and Billy which is located Domain-side and enjoys views over the park and museum.
Parnell may be Auckland’s oldest suburb, but it’s now one of its most sophisticated.
Discover a selection of elegant cafés, wine bars and restaurants, which consistently rank among Auckland’s best. New cafe kid on the block Winona Forever will satisfy your brunch cravings with a fun menu and seriously good coffee and cake. For an authentic dining experience book the 3hr dinner service at Pasture restaurant, where the highest quality seasonal food is meticulously prepared in an open kitchen. If you’re in the mood for cocktails try Pineapple on Parnell or 46&York.
Upmarket homewares and interiors, quality jewellery, luxury furnishings, designer fashion and fine wines are all found in Parnell’s exclusive boutiques. Pop into the small galleries offering pieces for sale, indulge in a luxurious beauty treatment, and visit the weekend French-style market La Cigalge, for artisan food products and French cheeses.
Just a 15-minute drive over the Harbour Bridge from the city centre, Takapuna’s combination of shopping, dining and by-the-beach lifestyle has seen it dubbed the capital of Auckland’s North Shore.
From early morning coffee to dinner at sunset, the restaurants directly opposite Takapuna Beach boast views across to Rangitoto Island and beyond. Just back from the beach, Fortieth & Hurstmere is a bustling lane-way where you can find wood-fired pizza, sizzling South American, fresh chicken salads and coffee and milkshakes served from a green combi van. You’ll find plenty more options in Hurstmere Road and the surrounding streets with fashionable all-day eateries, cafes and bars. Take a stroll along the beach to the Takapuna Beach Cafe & Store located by the boat ramp and enjoy fresh farm-sourced local ingredients or fish ‘n’ chips and gelato from the adjourning Store. around 100 other cafés and restaurants serve up a huge variety of European, Asian and local fare, and revellers fill the bars as night falls.
Add shopping to the Takapuna itinerary – there are more than 400 shops to keep you busy. The mall has a range of well-known retail chains for wardrobe essentials, or check out the main street’s fashion boutiques, interior design shops and jewellery stores. Fashionistas shouldn’t miss The Department Store, a modern version of its namesake that brings together leading New Zealand and international fashion, interiors, and beauty brands, including Topshop and Karen Walker.
Hop on the ferry to the picturesque seaside village of Devonport, just 12 minutes from downtown Auckland.
Shop for New Zealand-made clothing, jewellery, books, homewares and gifts, rummage for rare and out-of-print books, or choose a special piece of art – some of New Zealand’s best local artists sell works in Devonport’s galleries and many of them offer international shipping.
Visit the chocolaterie for divine handmade chocolates and truffles, then grab a hot coffee and take a stroll along the water’s edge. For something more filling, sit in the sun outside one of the cafés along the main street, or walk to the authentic deli-style French café Chateaubriant. Eat warm, fresh pastries at the café, or stock up on baguettes, cheeses, meats and salads for a picnic up Mount Victoria or North Head, Devonport’s two volcanic cones. Finish up with a refreshing drink and turkish inspired tapas at Devon on the Wharf, a light-filled contemporary space in the main wharf building with views across to the city.
Ponsonby epitomises Auckland’s urban style. Edgy designer boutiques mix with stylish cafés and restaurants where the food looks as sensational as it tastes.
Cutting-edge fashion, modern interiors and high-end homewares tempt shoppers from window dressings that look like magazine covers. Limited edition art prints, one-of-a-kind jewellery pieces, footwear, quirky gifts and unique books complete the shopping line-up. Ponsonby definitely lives up to its nickname as Auckland’s hippest strip.
Ponsonby’s dining scene is always evolving, but great food and wine are a constant. By day, coffee is king and lunch can be anything from light and guilt-free to decidedly decadent. Save room for cake – sweet treats with a modern twist are a specialty here.
When the sun goes down, people pack into award-winning restaurants, both long-time favourites such as SPQR, Chapel and Ponsonby Road Bistro, and new destination eateries that are carving out a ferocious reputation – Orphan’s Kitchen, Blue Breeze Inn, Saan and Augustus to name a few.
There’s always something happening in Ponsonby Central, a laneway of street vendor-style eateries, bakeries, an organic produce market and uber-cool bars.
QUEEN STREET, HIGH STREET & CHANCERY
Hundreds of stores line the main street that runs through Auckland’s CBD, ranging from luxury retailers to New Zealand chain stores and international brands.
Shop for the latest fashion, sports gear, electronics, gifts, books and Kiwi art. Browse the huge selection of quality clothing, accessories, beauty products and home décor at Smith & Caughey’s, Auckland’s premier department store.
Step just off Queen Street and explore the stylish local and international boutiques and designer stores on High Street and the surrounding laneways, then take time out at one of the fashionable bars or cafés.
KARANGAHAPE ROAD – K’ ROAD
Every shop, café and restaurant is different, but there’s a strong sense of community in K’ Road, a favourite gathering place for artists, students, musicians and writers.
Known for it’s eclectic collection of retro, vintage and streetwear stores, you’ll find quirky design shops and galleries offering everything from imported handmade jewellery to locally made home furnishings, and music stores sell enviable vinyl collections and instruments.
Among all this are some of the most unique cafés, restaurants, bars and clubs in the city. There are plenty of places to just sit back with a perfect coffee try, Bestie in St Kevin’s arcade where you can look out over Myers Park or Verona where you can watch the hustle and bustle unfold in front of you, and when it comes to dining, Auckland’s multicultural diversity is reflected in the cuisine on offer: Italian, Middle Eastern, Asian, European Fusion, Indian, Mexican and even Portugese.
K’ Road’s nightlife is perhaps Auckland’s most colourful; the strip is home to flamboyant cabaret-style restaurants, karaoke bars, gay clubs and local pubs offering live music.
European cafés and artisan food stores mix with award-winning restaurants and wine bars in the heritage buildings of this vibrant inner-city suburb.
Dine where the locals do – Dominion Road is the place to go for authentic ethnic dishes from Asia, India and the Middle East.
Join the regulars at the neighbourhood’s lively cafés, bars and pubs. Stop in for a drink or a meal before a rugby game at Eden Park, New Zealand’s largest stadium.
For relaxed seaside dining, drive just 10 minutes along the water’s edge from the city centre to eat out at one of Mission Bay’s popular restaurants, bars and cafés. On a hot day, finish off with an ice cream and a stroll on the beach.
Auckland fast facts
New Zealand Māori call Auckland Tāmaki Makaurau, a place desired by many, or a maiden desired by 100 lovers. It was a land fought over for its forested hills, fertile soils and harbours full of seafood.
This is one of the few cities in the world bordered by two harbours on two separate major bodies of water – the Pacific Ocean on the east coast and the Tasman Sea on the west coast. The Auckland region has 29,000 kilometres of coastline, with hundreds of beaches within easy reach.
Auckland is home to over one third of New Zealand’s population – approximately 1.5 million in the greater Auckland area.
Auckland’s landscape is dotted with 48 volcanic cones. The largest and most iconic is Rangitoto Island, Auckland’s youngest volcano and New Zealand’s youngest landform, which emerged from the water approximately 600 years ago.
The city’s striking natural beauty and vibrant urban lifestyle combine to make it one of the most desirable places in the world to live or visit. Auckland is rated the third most liveable city in the world on the Mercer Quality of Living Survey (2017).
Auckland has over 7,000 hotel rooms in the central city alone.
The magnificent Hauraki Gulf Marine Park encompasses an incredible 1.2 million hectares of sea, coast and more than 50 islands. Many islands are easily accessible by ferry from downtown, including Waiheke, Rangitoto, Motutapu, Tiritiri Matangi and Rotoroa.
Auckland is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, home to more than 200 ethnic communities from around the globe. With a large number of Pacific Island cultures, it is also the world’s largest Polynesian city.
A kiwi is New Zealand’s native bird and also the name of a fruit. New Zealanders have been called Kiwis themselves since the nickname was bestowed by Australian soldiers in the First World War.
Westhaven Marina, on the city’s doorstep, is the largest marina in the Southern Hemisphere.
A large section of Auckland city’s waterfront area is actually reclaimed land, developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, this land is home to some of the city’s best shopping, dining and entertainment precincts.
Auckland’s northern and eastern beaches are golden, while the black sands of the west coast’s rugged surf beaches tell of the land’s volcanic origins.
i-SITE Visitor Information Centres
Auckland’s i-SITE Visitor Information Centres provide visitors with free bookings and information on activities, attractions and transport throughout Auckland and the rest of New Zealand.
Weibo: Visit Auckland