New Zealand is a fascinating country, and one of its brightest stars is Auckland. It’s a dazzling city that’s simply filled with plenty of amazing activities to do. Whether it’s relaxing in the amazing bars, enjoying the tens, if not hundreds, of beaches, or taking a hike to a volcano, there’s no shortage of things to do in and around Auckland.
The world-famous beauty of New Zealand is ever-present, so no matter which way you take a look at, you’re bound to witness a picturesque sight. Reaching the city is quite easy, as there are plenty of flights to Auckland, and in fact it’s actually the easiest to reach the city by air.
1. Enjoy Some of the Finest Beaches in the World
The region that surrounds Auckland has an enormous coastline – in fact, there are tens of thousands of kilometers of a coastline. What’s amazing is that there are all types of beaches around the city, and a large number of them are quite near the city. Surfing, water sports, or simply relaxing, these beaches offer it all, and are great spots for holidays or those fabled NZ honeymoons.
- Anchor Bay Beach – this is a popular spot for surfers, because it has some of the best waves in the region. This beach is located around 80km north of the city, and it’s surrounded by a very large gorgeous park.
- Orewa Beach – as one of the most popular beaches in New Zealand and not just Auckland, Orewa Beach is an amazing spot. It’s perfect spot for a family retreat, as the beach offers plenty of relaxing activities to do, like jogging.
- Piha Beach – there are few other beaches that are as popular as Piha Beach. It’s one of the most beautiful destinations around Auckland, and it’s located to the west of the city. The beach has a unique layout in that it’s effectively split into two because of large rock formations, and it’s a fan favorite for things like picnicking or having lunch.
2. Take an Educational Trip to Auckland Museum
No journey to Auckland would be complete without spending at least a few hours in the prestigious Auckland Museum. It’s a museum that’s dedicated to telling New Zealand’s story as a nation and culture, and it’s regarded as one of the finest museum in the entire Southern Hemisphere.
It’s conveniently located in the heart of the city in an old and historic building, and it’s the only the venue in the entire city where you can witness the Maori culture on a daily basis. The museum is home to plenty of amazing exhibitions, including some award-winning exhibits about natural history. Some of the other exhibitions are a war memorial, and this part is called Scars on the Heart, another is He Taonga Maori, which is dedicated to preserving and displaying the many Maori treasures found in the country.
The museum is open every day from 10am to 5pm with the exception of Christmas Day, and visiting it is one of the best things to do in New Zealand, let alone Auckland.
3. Sample the Unforgettable Giapo Ice-cream
One of the things that New Zealand is quite famous for is its dedication to tasty things. Auckland food is no exception to this but what Auckland has that is more unique than the rest of the country is the most incredible ice cream experience in the country. Nestled in downtown Auckland at 12 Gore Street near Britomart, is something a little out of the ordinary, in a good way.
Giapo ice cream represents more than the ice cream itself, every flavor is treated as an experience and every person that comes into the store is treated as guest on a magical culinary journey. The man behind Giapo Ice Cream is Giapo Grazioli and his wife Annarosa. It’s not chefs they have on their staff either, there’s scientists behind the magic as well.
Creating things you could only dream of like hot chips and ice cream, a colossal squid, a selfie frame and hot cross buns. What else makes Giapo special? There is no ice cream on display in the palor so you’re deciding purely by reading and testers.
Once you order, the ice cream is made specially for you. This isn’t just dessert, this is an absolute experience for foodies and those with a sweet tooth. There’s something for everyone, even the vegans.
4. Hike Incredible Trails
Taking a hike is one of the best things to do in Auckland. The entire country is known for its surreal and breathtaking scenery, and that beauty is easily found around Auckland. Climbing on the top of an active volcano, or taking the famous Auckland Walks, are only a couple of the many types of hikes you can take, and all of them are absolutely rewarding. The gorgeous nature combined with beautiful sights and sounds, makes hiking one of the top things to do in Auckland.
- Rangitoto Summit Track – this is one of the most memorable hikes in the area. The journey beings in Auckland downtown, from where you catch a short ferry ride to the nearby volcano island. Once there you’ll travel through the world’s largest pohutukawa forest and climb through lava fields, only to reach the summit and be rewarded with a spectacular panoramic view of New Zealand’s brightest jewel.
- Coast to Coast Walk – while Auckland’s different coasts aren’t that far away from one another, this is still an amazing experience. Simply walking from through the natural beauty found around Auckland is an unforgettable experience, and it’s a fun little way to brag to friends that you’ve made from one side of New Zealand to another.
- Te Henga Walkway – an amazing hike if you’re looking to spend some alone time surrounded by rugged beauty and the ocean air. This trail is part of the Hillary Trail, which connects a few other different tracks in the Waitakere Trails. It’s a beautiful experience, and one of the finest things to do in Auckland.
5. Soak in Auckland’s Beauty on a Motorcycle
Feeling the wind in your hair while you’re riding a bike is one of those New Zealand must do thing. The lay of the land is very welcoming and accommodating to such adventure that it’d be a shame to skip out on such a fantastic experience. Most of the roads around Auckland are great, as well as in good shape, especially those that lead south.
To the north of Auckland, you’ll find Auckland Harbor Bridge and the main motorway. This might not be the best motorcycling, but if you persevere you’ll find that after a short journey you’ll reach some of the less traveled roads which are some of the best places to do some motorcycling in the region. If you continue on north, you’ll end up in Kaipara Harbor which has some pretty unique scenery.
If you head on west, you’ll pass through some of the most rugged terrain in the region as you’ll be traveling through the Waitakere Ranges. This part of the region is quite hilly, but the best part is that the hills are filled with indigenous forests that you won’t be able to see anywhere else. The roads are pretty good west of Auckland, and if you continue driving you’ll reach the popular beaches Piha, Bethells, and Muriwai.
Southwest leads to the wonderfully laid back town of Raglan, and this entire journey is one of the smoothest places in New Zealand to ride a motorbike. If you choose to go southeast you’ll be rewarded with the most scenic views in the entire region, which is why this part of the area is the most popular for motorcycling.
6. Explore Goat Island Marine Reserve
This is one of the most famous Auckland points of interest, and it’s not even in the city proper. It’s located some ways off to the north of the city, and it’s the country’s first marine reserve. Established in 1975 to help preserve and restore the country’s natural beauty that mankind has significantly endangered, this marine reserve has quite successfully managed to show everybody how New Zealand’s northern parts used to look like in the past.
This area is also one of the places where the ancient Maori landed for the first time in New Zealand in ages past, and is one of the most important places to preserve ancient parts of the Maori culture. There are plenty of interactive panels that only explain the cultural significance of the Maori landing the many ancestral canoes found in the region, but also show just how many species people are likely to encounter.
With the successful restoration it’s quite possible to see unique water species like snappers, blue maomao, and stripy parore. The area around Goat Island Marine Reserve also has some of the best diving spots in the region, and they’re all easily accessible.
7. See the Unique Auckland Art Gallery
Art and culture are some of the pillars that Auckland is built on. The Auckland Art Gallery is New Zealand’s largest and premier visual arts experience, and it’s an experience that’s quite enhanced by the building amazing and quirky design. This art gallery was originally found in 1888, but in 2011 it received a substantial renovation which resulted in an award at the World Architecture Festival for World Building.
The design itself is quite beautiful and stunning, and the tall kauri columns and canopy the first allure you see when you reach the building. The North Atrium itself is quite gorgeous, and it allows for great views to Queen Street and Albert Park. The gift shop is excellent too, as it offers a lot of exclusive artistic gifts.
Besides the many exhibitions and a permanent collection, there is a theater that regularly shows arthouse films. It’s a hidden gem of sorts, and it’s very favored by Auckland’s artistic scene, and this theater has at least one screening per week.
The gallery’s focus of culture and historic heritage make it one of the most important New Zealand points of interest, as it offers tremendous help to preserving the ancestry and the spirit of New Zealand as a country. All of this, couple together with the Learning Center, makes visiting this gallery one of the top things to do in Auckland.
8. Try That Delicious NZ Food
Every visitor to Auckland should immediately try to find some of that amazing New Zealand food. Not that the local Auckland food and drinks differ in quality than the rest of the country, but there is a significant difference in tone and style. In one moment you’ll be drinking craft beer in some of the finest bars in Auckland, and the next you’re doing New Zealand luxury dining. There are numerous amazing Auckland restaurants, and visiting at least a few is a must.
- Amano – a very stylish and hip looking restaurant with a pearly ambiance, Amano is one of the best places to sample New Zealand wines and craft beers. The food is absolutely delicious, but the star of the show are the cocktails, which are seasonal very spectacular.
- Bellota – this is the perfect to go on an intimate date. If you’re having a New Zealand holiday and want to find a place where you can have a very personal dinner, then Bellota is the place for that. With authentic Spanish tapas and cherry, you can’t go wrong with this restaurant.
- Vulture Lane – if you’re looking for a place that’s quite boisterous and rowdy, then look no further than Vulture Lane. It has an excellent selection of beer, both craft and bottled, and it’s a great spot to have either a relaxed afternoon, or an energetic evening.
9. Explore Auckland’s Naval History at the Maritime Museum
Auckland is known worldwide as the City of Sails. New Zealand as a nation is quite famous for its seafaring roots, and there is other better place to explore those roots than in the Maritime Museum. Sailing and seafaring has been part of New Zealand for a very long time, ages in fact, even since the first Polynesians arrived from the north.
The museum is home to some of the most interesting and important stories that concern both the sea and New Zealand, and is an excellent learning center, but also a very educational one. It’s also quite interactive, as you can try your hand at yacht design, experience cannon fire for yourself, and even relax in a kiwi-styled bach.
It’s also possible to go out on a tour around Auckland’s harbor from the Maritime Museum, because the museum’s own scow sets sail several times a week. This tour offers excellent views of the city and an extra chance to learn a bit more of that fascinating Auckland history.
10. Go Diving in Incredible Waters
The waters that surround Auckland are some of the finest and most beautiful in the entire world. The climate in the southern hemisphere, especially in New Zealand, is also pretty much perfect, so diving is one of those amazing things that’s readily available around Auckland. There are numerous spots around the incredibly lengthy shoreline, and many of them are not only easy to reach, but offer a chance for beginners to learn more about diving. Because of this make sure to put diving on your Auckland itinerary.
- Anchor Bay Beach – this beach is quite popular for tourists, but diving still hasn’t caught on as much like it has for Goat Island. It’s amazing place to explore under the waters, as it has plenty of unique and endemic species, but with very few crowds. It’s also part of Tawharanui Marine Reserve, and it’s very near Auckland.
- Pollen Island – a very unique, but amazing nonetheless, diving spot, as it’s a very dynamic location. There is commotion all the time, and it happens both under and above the sea. There’s a large number of herons in the area which feed on the fish near the surface, and it’s a great experience to see that while diving.
- Te Matuku Bay – one of the region’s most hidden and most pristine diving spots, Te Matuku Bay is located on Waiheke Island. It’s a relatively unknown diving spot, and it feels almost completely secluded from the rest of the area, so diving between the numerous unique species of fish feels very special and personal.
11. Explore the City
The best part about Auckland is that it has so much happening inside its limits that you don’t always have to seek out the activities for yourself. Simply by walking its wonderful streets you can easily discover a plethora of amazing things to see and do. You can watch a free movie in Silo Park that’s projected onto a silo, or try free tea in T2 on Queens Street. You can always seek out the unique little pastry shops that sell traditional Maori treats, or simply go on a pub crawl. There’s no shortage of amazing and adventurous things to do on Auckland’s streets, and all it takes is an inquisitive mind.
Visiting the wonderful city of Auckland is always a treat. From its many hotels to the popular Airbnb Auckland, there are many places to stay in the city, and reaching it is easy. There are a lot of flights to New Zealand and Auckland, so everybody should make visiting Auckland their priority. It’s definitely worth it.