Auckland, home to almost a third of New Zealand’s population is by far this country’s biggest city. There is plenty to keep you occupied in the ‘city of sails’ which is surrounded by water and greenery in a relaxed urban environment full of trendy restaurants and cafes and a bustling downtown area. This gateway to the rest of New Zealand has plenty to offer before you set off on your exploration of this incredible country, so spend a few days stopping over in Auckland and settle into the laid back lifestyle of the kiwi culture.

When to go

Temperatures are mild to warm throughout the year, with plenty of rain in winter and hot humid summers. The summer months November – March are the best time to visit.

Getting around

Auckland Airport is located approximately 13 miles (21km) south of the city’s centre, and transport options are well connected making getting into and out of the city easy and accessible. We can arrange your airport transfers for you; an Airbus service connects the airport to the city centre, as well as buses, taxi cabs and shared shuttle buses which offer a reliable door- to- door service. Traffic congestion and complexity can be an issue in Auckland so avoid hiring a car and used fixed-rate taxi rides booked through your hotel where possible - or explore on foot. Visit www.maxx.co.nz for helpful transport tips.

Where to stay

Auckland is surrounded by picturesque bays, happening harbours and suburbs that vary from the quaint to the quirky. The central downtown area is compact and easily explored on foot. Traffic in and around the surrounding areas can be manic, so it’s best to book a stay as central as possible, unless you are looking to be close to a particular site. There is no shortage of accommodation options in Auckland whether you’re looking for cheap backpackers, self-catering apartment or a luxury hotel and we can always find something to suit your own style and budget!

What to see and do – our favourite picks

Set yourself up for the day with brunch on Ponsonby

Start your day by enjoying brunch in one of the cool pavement cafes on hip and trendy Ponsonby Street. Located to the west of the city centre, Ponsonby is one of the most happening thoroughfares in Auckland, with more than 100 cafes, restaurants and bars. It’s the perfect place to watch the world go by, and there are also plenty of upmarket clothes stores and art galleries to browse.

Enjoy jaw-dropping views from the Sky Tower

Head into the city centre and Auckland’s most famous (not to mention visible) landmark, the Sky Tower. At 328 metres, its New Zealand’s tallest man made structure and you can see it from almost everywhere in the city. Striking as it is, it’s the view from the top that is the real attraction. Travel up to one of three spectacular viewing platforms in the glass-fronted lifts for views which, on a clear day, stretch as far as 80 kilometres in every direction.

To jump or not to jump?

If leaping off tall buildings sounds like your kind of thing, then you’ll definitely want to give the Skyjump a go. This is an unforgettable experience for any self-respecting adrenaline junky or daredevil. It’s a base-jump by wire and it’s 192 metres straight down from the top of the Sky Tower If you prefer something a little more sedate, enjoy lunch in the revolving restaurant and watch the crazy people jump!

Explore bohemian Devonport

From the Sky Tower, stroll down to the ferry port and hop on a ferry to bohemian Devonport, just 10-15 minutes across the bay from downtown Auckland. It’s full of second hand bookshops, interesting architecture and cool little cafes and bars...the perfect place for a long lunch in the sunshine. To walk your lunch off, climb Mount Victoria, a rather grandly named hill just behind the town. It’s a steep but fairly short climb and your reward is panoramic, 360 degree views over the city skyline, harbour and Waiheke Island.

Climb a dormant volcano

If that view whets your appetite, get the ferry back across to the city centre and jump on the Explorer Bus to Mount Eden, probably Auckland’s most famous natural viewpoint. Several walking trails lead you to the top of this dormant volcano, with its magnificent bowl like crater. The view from the top, almost 200 metres above sea level, is simply sensational and well worth the effort.

Help crew an America’s Cup yacht

Alternatively, why not try your hand at helping to sail an Americas Cup sailing boat around the harbour? Definitely something you won’t get to try every day and a very appropriate activity to do in the city of sails. No sailing experience is necessary and trips last 2 hours.

Enjoy sundowners at the Viaduct Harbour

Keeping with the nautical theme, as sunset approaches wander down to the Viaduct Harbour which is home to superyachts of the rich and famous. The clutch of harbour side bars and restaurants are the perfect vantage point from which to enjoy a drink or meal as you watch the sunset over the harbour.

Exploring further afield

Waiheke Island is 35 minutes from Auckland by ferry and is a haven of beautiful beaches, olive groves and vineyards set in a subtropical microclimate with plenty of cafes and boutiques. Spend the day cycling around the vineyards, a great way to see the island and sample the vino. Make sure you stop in at Mudbrick Vineyard and their amazing restaurant.

Hobbiton Movie Set Tours are available as a day trip from Auckland. This full day excursion will take you on a journey through Auckland and Cambridge before reaching Hobbiton Shire for a guided tour of the movie set.

Coromandel Peninsula is a 90 minute drive South-East of Auckland and is renowned for its spectacular rainforest with the magnificent native Kauri tree and beautiful beaches. Take a trip to see this unique natural wonder full of sheltered bays and hidden coves steeped in history and see why this is a favourite destination for many New Zealanders.

Bay of Islands is a 3 hour drive or 35 minute flight north of Auckland and encompasses an adventure playground of islands, townships and marine life including dolphins, penguins, whales and seabirds. Beautiful rivers, seaside walking tracks and subtropical rainforests make this area a top attraction. Travel through the famous Cape Brett (Hole in the Rock) by catamaran or cruise.

Interested? How to include Auckland as a stopover

Auckland is a popular stop on round the world tickets, and a common jumping off points for flights into the South Pacific islands of Fiji and the Cook Islands. If you’d like to include Auckland in your itinerary, I can build any itinerary to suit, including accommodation, tours, campervan or car hire and bus passes. Contact David for more information.

Example round the world tickets including New Zealand

London - San Francisco - Auckland - Sydney - Hong Kong - London Flights from £1,195 pp including taxes

London - Dubai - Nairobi // Johannesburg - Singapore - Sydney - Auckland - Rarotonga - Los Angeles - London Flights from £1,619 pp including taxes

You might also like