Little Oneroa, Waiheke Island
Little Oneroa, Waiheke Island

What to do in Auckland?

The vast majority of people coming to New Zealand enter through Auckland International Airport and often end up spending at least a day here. As a result we regularly get asked what there is to do in Auckland? Luxury Adventures has put together a few suggestions that will keep you entertained in the city of sails during your stay. For those wanting to stay in the central city, Auckland offers excellent boutique shopping, numerous restaurants & bars, art galleries and more. There is also the Auckland Museum and several other landmarks well worth visiting. These have been detailed in many other articles and guides.

Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf is a must see!

Auckland is probably most renowned for its iconic Waitemata harbour and the many islands studded throughout the Hauraki Gulf. The majority of these can be accessed from downtown Auckland City either by ferry or a private charter. The most populated and easily accessible of these would be Waiheke Island. Popular with locals and visitors alike Waiheke Island is abundant with picturesque north facing beaches, numerous wineries and olive plantations. The list of restaurants and wineries are numerous and memorable and all within a 35 min ferry ride from Auckland city! Recommended places to stay are The Boatshed and Delamore Lodge among others, including many private villas.

Mudbrick Vineyard Waiheke Island
Mudbrick Vineyard Waiheke Island

Great Barrier Island

The largest and arguably most spectacular of the islands in the Hauraki Gulf is Great Barrier Island. Roughly 3 times the size of Waiheke Island and 10 times less populated. Great Barrier is a secluded paradise which can be easily accessed by a few means. Either by ferry, a short fixed wing flight from Auckland airport or by helicopter from a variety of locations. You can expect a very different experience from Waiheke Island. Great Barrier is more rustic in its charm and while its only 30 mins from Auckland airport, you may feel you’ve stepped back in time. It comes highly recommended especially if you enjoy the outdoors and like getting off the beaten track. If you wanted to stay a couple of nights we can recommend Oruawharo as an excellent choice.

Rangitoto and Tiritiri Islands

For those of you feeling energetic the unmistakable Rangitoto Island offers a climb to the summit at roughly the same height as Auckland’s Sky Tower. Further afield Tiritiri Island is an open nature reserve and home to endangered native birds. Such as little spotted kiwi, takahe, kokako, brown teal and tieke. In and around the islands of the gulf, sailing, dolphin & whale watching, cruising, fishing & diving are popular pastimes. Some of the many highlights of living in the “City of Sails”!

Auckland's Hauraki Gulf from Rangitoto Island
Looking for what to do in Auckland? Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf is a must visit!

For pristine native bush visit the Waitakere Ranges and then the black sand beaches of Piha, Muriwai and Karekare.

For landlubbers the Waitakere ranges, only 25 mins west of Auckland city offers lush subtropical native bush. You’ll see native nikau palms, kauri, rimu and totora. There are numerous hikes and walks that can be taken alone or with a guide. Once out west you won’t want to miss the black sand beaches of Piha, Bethells, Karekare and Muriwai. They are wild, rugged and invigorating. Perfect for the surfer in you with excellent breaks right up and down the coast. For the more adventurous and if you don’t mind getting wet, Canyoning in the waterfalls of Piha is a must.

Auckland also offers great mountain biking

Also out west, Woodhill Mountain Bike Park is an excellent all weather mountain-biking venue only 35 mins from Auckland. With over 60 trails and bike hire to boot, it’s the perfect place to blow out the cobwebs after a long flight. While there you could also try Tree Adventures, a novel way to enjoy the forest in an adventurous way. Better known as accrobranche by the French, translating as literally ‘tree climbing’.

Auckland has some world renowned golf courses

If golf is your thing then Auckland is a great place to play with a large number of quality courses. Some are located near the central city with others slightly futrher afield in the surrounding suburbs. Some of the better know golf courses are Formosa Golf Resort, Titirangi Golf Club, Gulf Harbour Country Club and The Grange Golf Club.

Te Arai Lodge cuisine
Te Arai Lodge cuisine, north of Auckland

Wine tasting and farmers markets in and around Auckland

Further north you’ll find the winery region of Matakana and its nearby beaches Pakiri, Omaha and Tawharanui. Plenty of places here to taste local wines & delicacies. Make sure you check out the local Matakana Farmers Market which is held every Saturday morning. Tawharanui is also an excellent place to surf when the conditions are right. The entire coastline is renowned for its fishing, diving and kai moana (Maori for seafood). Of course Waiheke Island previously mentioned above also has some outstanding wineries. Other farmers markets worth visiting are the La Cigale French Markets in Parnell and Britomart, the Clevedon Farmers Market and Oratia Farmers Market out west.

There’s a couple of ideas for what to do in Auckland, and of course there are many more depending on what your interests are. Please contact us for further information on any of the activities or accommodations above.

Luxury Adventures – Tailoring luxury travel in New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific Islands since 1999.

This article was originally published in November 2014, and has since been updated for relevancy and currency.

Tony Townley

Tony Townley is a luxury lifestyle specialist and owner of Luxury Adventures based in Auckland, New Zealand. With over 20 years of experience in the luxury travel industry I have an excellent understanding of the accommodations, experiences and destinations on offer. When not working or spending time with my family I can be found indulging in my love of the outdoors, food, wine and travel - mountain biking, skiing, fishing, diving and hiking.

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