Explore Auckland

Auckland Travel Guide

Auckland is situated on a narrow strip of land, flanked by two magnificent harbours to the east and west. The shallow Manukau Harbour opens out to the Tasman Sea to the west, while the Waitemata Harbour lies at the heart of the city centre and is Auckland's deepwater port. It has a vibrant waterfront that has flourished with the successful hosting of the America's Cup, and the trendy restaurants and waterside cafes are a constant hive of activity.<br /><br /> Known as the 'City of Sails', with a larger boat-to-person ratio than anywhere else on earth, it is a paradise for sailing enthusiasts. Every weekend the waters of the Hauraki Gulf come alive with a flotilla of colourful sails. The best way to experience the city is from the water, sailing around the attractive harbour or on a ferry cruise to one of the many stunning islands dotted about the Gulf.<br /><br /> Auckland is the largest and most cosmopolitan city in New Zealand, and acts as a major gateway to the rest of the country. Yet it is also one of the least densely populated in the world, covering an area twice the size of London but with barely a million inhabitants. It has a friendly small-town atmosphere and a relaxed pace of life.<br /><br /> Beyond the bustling downtown area, dominated by the southern hemisphere's tallest building, the Sky Tower, the city sprawls outwards, with low-slung buildings and wooden houses among leafy parks and walking tracks. The suburbs wind their way around picturesque bays and harbours and between volcanic hills that provide panoramic views over the city and mountains, encompassing numerous green urban parklands that are dotted with sheep.<br /><br />

Auckland Museum

Address: Domain Drive, The Domain, Parnell Auckland

Situated on The Domain, an extensive central city parkland on one of Auckland's extinct volcanic hills, the Auckland Museum overlooks the city and the attractive Waitemata Harbour. It is one of the most visited attractions in the city, housing a remarkable collection of Maori and Pacific Island artefacts and cultural displays. Originally built as a World War I Memorial in 1929, the building was dedicated to the memory of New Zealand victims in both World War I and II. The 'New Zealand at War' exhibition has since been joined by extensive displays about the people and the country, its cultures, art and natural history. There is a Children's Discovery Centre on the middle floor. For many, a highlight of a visit to the museum, is the Maori cultural performance of song and dance, performed three times daily, providing an entertaining insight into Maori mythology and history.<br /><br />

Hauraki Gulf Islands

Address: Auckland

The Hauraki Gulf is studded with numerous islands such as Rangitoto, Waiheke, and Great Barrier Island and those close to the mainland make a good day trip. Some are recreation retreats and others are conservation islands with restricted access for the protection of rare bird, animal, and plant life. Waiheke is the most popular of the gulf islands, with picturesque bays and white sandy beaches, rolling farmlands, and hills cloaked with vineyards and fine wineries. The town enjoys the slow and relaxed pace of island life, along with chic little restaurants and cafes, and is home to many art galleries and craft shops.<br /><br /> The nearest island to the city is the uninhabited Rangitoto, a large volcanic cone with an unusual landscape of black distorted lava shapes that governs the view over the harbour. It is possible to hike up to the crater rim and explore the lava caves on the slopes. Each island has a different character with different things to do, whether it is to explore natural geological features or to enjoy the isolation, relax on white beaches, or wander about the galleries and cafes. Some visitors prefer simply to sail around the islands on a yacht or ferry cruise and enjoy the scenery from on board.<br /><br />

Auckland Sky Tower

Address: Sky City Complex, Victoria and Federal Streets Auckland

At 1,076 feet (328m), Auckland's Sky Tower is the tallest freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere and has unforgettable views over the city, the harbour and the gulf islands. It is part of the Sky City Entertainment Complex, with a casino, theatre, hotel, and conference centre. Visitors to the tower can splash out on dinner in the revolving restaurant, or admire the view from one of the four circular observation decks, reached by a glass lift. There is an outdoor deck, glass floor panels, an audio visual guide, and a number of touch computer screens providing geographical information. The Sky Deck is the highest viewing level with spectacular 360-degree views.<br /><br />

Bay of Islands

Address: Auckland

The Bay of Islands is famous for its beautiful coastal scenery and is one of North Island's major attractions. The bay is interspersed with numerous little coves, inlets and sandy beaches, and the historical townships of Paihia, Waitangi and Russell are the central hubs of the area. From there, an unbelievable array of activities and tours can be arranged. Sailing and boat cruises around the islands are the main attraction, but the natural surroundings and warm waters of the bay make it an ideal place for kayaking, swimming, diving, and fishing. The bay is also of historical significance as the place where the Treaty of Waitangi was first signed between the European settlers and Maori chiefs in 1840.<br /><br />

Hamilton

Address: Auckland

Hamilton is a pretty town 80 miles (128km) south of Auckland. Its proximity to the bigger city means it is often overlooked by tourists in New Zealand, however as an excursion from Auckland, Hamilton has some worthwhile sights to offer. There are several hot springs around Hamilton, and the city is full of gardens, parks and river walks. Not far out of Hamilton is Matamata, home to the Hobbiton Movie Set, the 'Hobbit village' created for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Guided 'film and farm' tours are offered for fans of the movies.<br /><br />

Tiritiri Matangi Island

Address: Auckland

Tiritiri Matangi Island is a wildlife sanctuary and one of New Zealand's most important and exciting conservation projects. It is located 18 miles (30km) north east of central Auckland and just 2.5 miles (4km) from the end of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. A hundred and twenty years of farming had seen this 220-hectare island stripped of almost all its native bush but between 1984 and 1994, volunteers planted between 250,000 and 300,000 trees. The Island is now sixty percent forested with the remaining forty percent left as grassland for species preferring open habitat.<br /><br /> Visitors can access the island by a regular ferry service, which leaves from Auckland and Gulf Harbour. The Ferry runs from Wednesdays through to Sundays each week, though it may be cancelled at short notice due to weather or other circumstances. When on the island, visitors can enjoy a guided walk, explore the beaches or simply admire the natural beauty of the place. Note: the ferry leaves the Island at 3.30pm sharp, and it is important to be back at the wharf by 3.15pm so that boarding and departure can take place without delay.<br /><br />

Pasifika Festival

Where: Western Springs Park, Great North Road,Auckland

When: 25 - 26 March 2017

Auckland boasts the world's largest Polynesian population, and celebrates the art, culture, and lifestyle of this vibrant native community with the annual Pasifika Festival. The festival opens on Friday evening with a concert showcasing talented Polynesian music artists. On Saturday the entertainment continues with local church music and dance groups while visitors can sample traditional food, view art and handcrafts, browse at more than 300 stalls, and wander through the series of 'Pacific Island villages' for a total cultural experience.<br /><br />

New Zealand Fashion Week

Where: 135 Halsey Street, Aucklands Viaduct Harbour.,Auckland

When: 28 August - 3 September 2017

International fashion buyers and writers descend on Auckland during October each year to celebrate in grand style the unique indigenous-inspired collections of New Zealand's talented designers. About 50 designers show their collections at this major event. Some shows are open to the general public, but on the final day of the week everyone can join in the fashion extravaganza when Aotea Square becomes a hive of fashion, music, markets, and interactive and educational activity for all.<br /><br />

Auckland Anniversary Regatta

Where: Auckland Harbour,Auckland

When: 29 January 2018

Being known as the 'City of Sails,' Auckland is recognised as a yachtsman's paradise, so it is no surprise to discover that its annual official Regatta is the biggest one-day Regatta in the world. This historic event was first held in September 1840 and has sailed on through turbulent years and changing social trends to become a family outing full of fun and excitement. Numerous events take place in the harbour and surrounding waterfront to complement the actual yacht regatta.<br /><br />

NZ International Comedy Festival

Where: ,Auckland

When: TBC.

Some of the best and brightest comedians from the international circuit join some of New Zealand's top acts for over three weeks of comedy madness.<br /><br />

Bodrum Restaurant and Bar

Address: 3058 Great North Road, New Lynn. Auckland

Food Type: Turkish

Bodrum is arguably one of the best Turkish restaurants in Auckland. It was created in late 2015 by Turkish restaurateur duo, Alex Isik and Nigar Ivgen. People visit for the fall-off-the-bone lamb, and stay for the Turkish Delight and coffee. Bookings recommended.<br /><br />

Punjab Palace

Address: 71 Great South Road, Papakura. Auckland

Food Type: Indian

Punjab Palace is one of Auckland's many Indian restaurants. What sets Punjab Palace apart is their extensive menu and the pride and personal involvement that the owners take in the day to day running of this great restaurant. With piping hot curries, perfectly cooked naan and meat dishes done to perfection, Punjab Palace serves food fit for royalty. Try the Mango Chicken for something different, or the Lamb Rogen Josh for some of India's finest spices and New Zealand's best lamb. Bring along a bottle of wine and enjoy a great Indian feast. Bookings essential.<br /><br />

Saison: The French Cafe

Address: 210 Symonds St., Eden Terrace Auckland

Food Type: French

For French cuisine at its best visit Saison. This French restaurant serves up an exciting array of stylish dishes. Using seasonal vegetables and only the best meat available Saison will tantalise your taste buds in all the right ways. Saison has a great wine selection including local and international wines. The tasting menu comes highly recommended. Reservations essential.<br /><br />

Industry Zen

Address: 104D Customs Street Auckland

Food Type: Japanese

Auckland has a large selection of Japanese restaurants and sushi bars, but Industry Zen is a cut above the rest. With authentic Japanese decor and traditional Japanese meals this restaurant will transport you to Japan for the evening. Industry Zen is definitely one of the best sushi restaurants in Auckland and is often fully booked. Their sushi is made to perfection and the sushi wraps are a hit. Industry Zen also serves a decadent selection of Japanese tapas including crumbed rock oysters, fried squid legs and traditional Japanese Gyoza. The green tea ice-cream is the perfect way to end your meal. Bookings essential.<br /><br />

One Tree Grill

Address: 9 Pah Road, Epsom Auckland

Food Type: Steakhouse

One Tree Grill Restaurant is an upmarket dining experience which serves up traditional Pacific Rim cuisine and boasts a very impressive array of wines from the region and abroad. The restaurant prides itself in it professional service and quality food, making every dining experience a unique and special evening out for its customers. The food is beautifully presented and tastes equally as delicious. Although rather a bit more expensive than other options in the area, the quality certainly lives up to the price point. Bookings are essential.<br /><br />

Auckland's 'city of sails' reputation and natural beauty make it an ideal destination for tourists wishing to take part in sightseeing, but never fear, party-goers: Auckland comes alive at night. With clubs, bars, cinemas, dance clubs and pubs, Auckland is arguably the kiwi nightlife capital. The Tourist Times is a great source of hip and happening entertainment listings and is distributed free of charge throughout the city.<br /><br /> The city has a great selection of clubs and bars catering for up and coming businessmen, highflyers and young students. The main nightlife areas include High Street, Ponsonby, Viaduct Harbour, Parnell, and Karangahape Street. There is a great mix of bars, clubs and quirky establishments in Auckland from which visitors can choose, including a great live music scene. If one is looking for something totally different, Auckland does provide some establishments that are a bit of an oddity, such as a bar which constantly has the temperature set to minus five degrees Celsius and another which is furnished with a variety of beds and pillows which patrons can snuggle up in while enjoying a beverage.<br /><br />
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