Just over a three-hour direct flight from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Auckland is an ideal weekend destination. But it has more to offer than just convenience. Visitors to the North Island city can learn about its well-preserved Maori culture at museums, dine on fresh seafood at waterfront restaurants, or even take a day trip to nearby Waiheke Island to explore vineyards and beaches.
If you’re heading to ‘The City of Sails’ for just 48 hours, we’ve rounded up some ideas on how best to spend it. From visiting a museum with over 15,000 traditional and contemporary works of art to taking a wildlife cruise where you can see seals, whales and penguins, here are some of the things you must do for a short stay in Auckland.
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Let’s start with where to eat while you’re here, shall we?
Brunch on the city’s waterfront
Start your morning with a visit to Amano’s Bakery in Britomart, near Auckland City’s waterfront. There, grab a cake and coffee to go or sit down for a full brunch. Be sure to take some time to tour the Britomart precinct, which is home to some of the city’s oldest buildings and newer infrastructure, as well as exhibits, shops, and often live music.
Lunch in the Wynyard neighborhood
Another option for lunch or brunch: Homeland in Wynyard Quater. Established by Peter Gordon, a pioneer of fusion food, Homeland’s menu is a celebration of incredible producers based in the Pacific and Aotearoa, New Zealand. Soak up the sun while enjoying lunch or coffee and a cheese bun.
Dining in Ponsonby
End the day with a visit to possibly the heart of Auckland city, Ponsonby. Known as the “kaleidoscopic heart of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland”, it is packed with hundreds of bars, restaurants and cafes. A local favorite to try? INCA Peruvian restaurant. Founded by chef diner Nic Wat, the restaurant showcases the fresh flavors of both South American street food and East Asian cuisine.
Take a wildlife cruise
Auckland is a city surrounded by water with several islands scattered across it. Visit Rangitoto Island on a one-day guided walking tour with Te Haerenga, where you’ll explore the island’s volcanic sentinel and learn stories from the local Ngāi Tai people. Or head out into the Hauraki Gulf on the Tikapa Moana Whale & Dolphin Wildlife Cruise to spot dolphins, whales, seals, and penguins.
Wine Tasting on Waiheke Island
The largest island off Auckland is Waiheke Island, known for its wineries and beaches. Just 40 minutes by ferry from central Auckland, it is home to over 30 wineries and cellar doors and countless beaches, with Oneroa Beach, Little Oneroa and Palm Beach some of the most visited. Explore the island with a Fullers Hop-On Hop-Off Explorer bus.
To visit a museum
Rainy day in Auckland? Take advantage of the weather with a visit to the museum. Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki has over 15,000 traditional and contemporary works of art. On the hill located in Auckland Domain is the Tamaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum, one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s first museums and home to over 4.5 million treasures. The beautiful building tells the story of Aotearoa New Zealand, its place in the Pacific, and its people.
Sky Dive or Bungee Jump
New Zealand is known for its extreme sports and Auckland is spoiled for choice. Jump out of a plane with Skydive Auckland. Either SkyJump from the iconic Sky Tower or walk along its edge, 192 meters above the ground. Another option is to head over to the Auckland Harbor Bridge, where you can do New Zealand’s only Bridge Climb, or bungy ride Waitemata Harbor instead.
Swimming at a West Auckland beach
You are never too far from the sea in Auckland. In less than an hour’s drive from the city center, you can find yourself on wild and rugged beaches, where the Tasman Sea meets long, vast stretches of black sand. Visit Muriwai Beach to see the impressive cliffs and gannet (large seabird) colonies, or head to Piha, a popular surfing beach, and Karekare, made famous as a film backdrop. The piano.
Visit an Academy Award-winning film workshop
Moviegoers will have a blast at Wētā Workshop Unleashed at Auckland’s Sky City venue. A 90-minute guided experience allows you to explore imaginary movie sets in the categories of horror, fantasy, and science fiction.
Stay at a green five-star hotel
The Britomart Hotel on the waterfront in central Auckland is New Zealand’s first 5-star green hotel. The historic warehouses of the Britomart neighborhood are home to some of the best restaurants, bars and cafes in the country, while its pedestrian streets and plant-lined alleys are ideal for boutique shopping.
Recharge at a Boutique Hotel
Quirky, yet stylish, QT Hotel in Auckland CBD has 150 rooms and suites, a restaurant run by renowned chef Sean Connolly called Esther, and a rooftop bar. Spend your stay here relaxing on the sumptuous bed in your room or suite and enjoying room service, or use the hotel as a base for day adventures.
Reserve in a mansion
The luxury property Hotel Fitzroy blends classic old world charm with contemporary living. It is a mansion with white fences and a modern annex with clean lines, located in the middle of Auckland’s trendiest district.
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