Auckland is the largest metropolitan area in New Zealand and a major transport hub.
Auckland is positioned in the northern part of the North Island, surrounded by natural wonders and within easy reach of marvellous beaches, delightful holiday islands and nice hiking trails.
Auckland is a wonderful place for sightseeing and adventures, diverse shopping and outstanding dining. It is often called the City of Sails due to the large number of yachts in Hauraki Gulf and Waitemata Harbour. It is also named the City of Extinct Volcanoes, being built on the Auckland Volcanic Field. This lovely city has plenty to offer travellers – many landmarks to see and various things to do. It is an ideal destination for a mini break, so let’s see how best to spend 3 days in and around Auckland.
What to See
Auckland has nice landmarks and places to visit. Travellers love to visit the Auckland Art Gallery, Toi o Tamaki set on the edge of Albert Park in the very centre of the city, to enjoy its extensive collection of international and national art. Another interesting attraction is the Auckland War Memorial Museum, which has important wartime collections, fantastic exhibitions of Maori people and provides panoramic views towards Hauraki Gulf islands and Waitemata Harbour. Near the museum are winter gardens with statues, fantastic flower displays and tropical plants.
A great sightseeing destination is the Sky Tower, which is the tallest tower in the Southern Hemisphere. At the top you can take in panoramic views of up to 80km and enjoy gourmet dining at the revolving restaurant. Also worth a visit is the StarDome Observatory, which is in Cornwall Park. The park features some interesting Maori archeological sites, a farm and a children’s playground.
Those travelling with kids will appreciate Auckland Zoo which is home to the biggest collection of native and exotic animals in New Zealand. Spread across 40 acres, the zoo is within easy reach of central Auckland. Near the zoo is the Museum of Transport and Technology, which is interactive and features more than 300,000 items.
Continuing with the zoological theme, why not visit Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium? It features a transparent tunnel through which you can walk while surrounded by various fish and sharks.
The oldest park in Auckland named Auckland Domain, which is also a venue for many weekend sports events, is also worth the visit.
What to Do and Where to Go
Auckland enjoys a diverse landscape and thus offers numerous opportunities for locals and tourists to get close to nature. It features a lush rainforest to the west, the hills of which roll down to the sea and the impressive black sand beaches; and red-flowering pohutukawa trees to the east fringe lovely beaches of golden sand. North of Auckland are the rolling hills of wine country, while the south offers picturesque gardens, quiet bays and lovely forests. There is plenty to be done in the area.
Visit the volcanos – the Auckland region has 48 dormant volcanic cones (the last eruption here was 600 years ago), which reveal lovely panoramic views towards the harbour and the city. Some of them are surrounded by lush greenery and are an ideal place for picnics. The most popular volcano is the one on Rangitoto Island, a 25-minute ride by ferry from Auckland city centre. It makes a great day-trip for visitors – ideal for walking, birdwatching and hiking, as well as kayaking and paddling.
Explore the Hauraki Gulf and Islands – this area covers 1.2 million hectares of sea, islands and coast. The top area to be explored here is Waiheke Island with its olive groves, beautiful vineyards, farmland and golden beaches. The island is some 35 min ferry ride from the centre of Auckland and features 30 boutique vineyards and wineries, offering award-winning wines, fine dining and excellent pieces of local art. Tourists are welcome to book a harbour cruise, go diving, surfing, kayaking or enjoy dolphin and whale spotting.
Shopping and dining out – Auckland is a paradise for those who love shopping. The city has large department stores, fashion boutiques and open-air street markets. It also features a wide range of restaurants and cafes that serve food from around the world. The nightlife is also busy and exciting. Some of the most popular areas to check out include Viaduct Harbour, Wynyard Quarter, City Works Depot and the Britomart precinct.
Swimming and surfing – Auckland is close to two coastlines that offer many activities. Great swimming is possible on the east coast beaches of Auckland and surfing is possible on the black-sand surf beaches on the west coast of Auckland.
Visit the penguins –Auckland is home to the largest penguin colony exhibit in the world – Sealife Aquarium. This is the only place with a display of the largest species of stingray – the Spiny Sea Dragons. It also has an underwater aquarium of colourful fish. Visitors are welcome to watch the sharks during feeding time or – if you’re game – dive with them!
Explore a lost island – Rotoroa Island was once a private rehabilitation centre but in 2005, it was reopened to the public. Today visitors can spend time in the museum, exhibition centre, historic chapel and jailhouse. The island is further famous for its white-sand beaches and bush trails.
Enjoy the incredible beauty of the Dark Sky Sanctuary – the island is located off the grid and has minimal outdoor lighting. It is a great destination for watching the stars and amazing night skyline.
Take part in the annual Pasifika Festival – Auckland has the largest Polynesian population in the world. Every year during this festival, you can explore Polynesian culture, take a walk around the art stalls, enjoy the live music, watch the local dances and try the tasty food.
Do a Sky Jump – you can book a jump from a height of 192m at the Sky Tower. The jump is cable controlled but a massive adrenaline rush!
Watch a rugby or cricket match – Eden Park is the largest sports stadium in New Zealand. It is easily reached since it is positioned near Kingsland station.
Where to stay
When it comes to accommodation it seems that Auckland has it all – serviced apartments, bed & breakfast and modern cottages, classy hotels, inns and motels, luxury lodges, backpackers’ guesthouses and holiday parks. Depending on your budget, liking and needs, you should be able to find accommodation to suit.
Organise a weekend break
Auckland is a city like no other. The area was once called Tamaki Makaurau by the New Zealand indigenous Maori people, which means in English “a maiden desired by a hundred lovers”. The area was once fought over for its forested hills, its harbours rich in seafood and its productive volcanic soil. The city enjoys a warm coastal climate. The climate in Auckland is mild, the average daily temperatures in January and February are around 23°C, while during the months of July and August the average daily temperatures drop to 14°C.
Today Auckland has one of the best lifestyles in the world. On the Mercer Quality of Living scale for 2015, Auckland rated the third most livable city in the world among 215 major cities. The atmosphere in Auckland is very pleasant, the locals are friendly and helpful. The natural setting is simply wonderful. Wherever you are exploring in and around Auckland, note that there are free 30 min per day per device Wi-Fi services at some public spots like the Auckland Art Gallery and the Auckland Botanic Gardens. This might help if you want to research a certain site or landmark in Auckland.
Now you’ve got some great ideas for your trip, don’t forget to arrange travel insurance as soon as you’ve made a booking. Get a quote today or call one of our friendly team on 1300 819 888 to discuss your requirements.
Categories: Destinations - South Pacific