Perched on the Northern Island of New Zealand, Auckland is where our kiwi adventure started. Curving around the Hauraki Gulf and stretched atop a volcanic field, the city offers an exciting mix of urban, water and wildlife activities and during our eight months there we sort of tried them all. Although we did not enjoy living and working in Auckland we do recommend a visit to this subtropical city. That’s why we prepared an insider guide to Auckland.
7 Local Things to Do in Auckland, New Zealand
FOR VOLCANO VIEWS: Mount Eden & Mount Victoria
Auckland is home to over 50 volcanoes and on top of their craters you will find the best views in town! Don’t worry, they’re all dormant or extinct! We loved taking a walk up Mt Eden – Auckland’s highest volcanic cone (196m) – and its crater known by local maoris as Te Ipu Kai a Mataaho, the Food Bowl of Mataaho, the God of things hidden in the ground. From this sacred site you will enjoy panoramas over the two natural harbours that the city has been built around. If you are after an amazing sunset view head to Mount Victoria instead.
FOR A HIDDEN, SUNNY PICNIC SPOT: Auckland’s parks
Auckland certainly doesn’t lack of green areas where you can enjoy a picnic in the sun. Undoubtedly, one of the most famous is the beautiful Cornwall Park, just a 15-minute drive from the city. However we also loved the tiny parks dotted around the city. Our favourites: the Bayfield Park (part of the Cox’s Bay Reserve) and Grey Lynn Park with its mysterious sculptures!
FOR A DIFFERENT CINEMA NIGHT: Harbour front & Silo Park
From working docks to a vibrant and revitalised part of the city. The Harbour front is definitely worth a visit. Enjoy a cold drink at one of the restaurants or bars in the Viaduct, grab something to eat at the converted container village on Queens Wharf or head to the Silo Park, one of the best free things to do in Auckland. This place rocks all year round with food trucks, markets and street performers. During the summer months, you can enjoy a movie projected onto a silo at the Silo Cinema. The films usually kick off every Friday and Saturday at 9.00pm, but we recommend to get there earlier to secure a good spot and enjoy free live music and DJs.
FOR A WEEKEND AT THE MARKET: La Cigale French Market
Our typical weekend in Auckland usually started in one of the city’s farmers markets like La Cigale (cicada) in Parnell, held every Saturday and Sunday. With delicious french pastries, coffee, organic vegetables, cheeses and live music, on a sunny weekend morning there is nowhere better to be.
FOR FOODIES: Giapo
Don’t miss GIAPO’s experimental ice cream. Sweet, salty, spicy, sour — whatever ice cream your heart desires will be found in this little shop in Auckland CBD.
FOR ARTISTIC SOULS: the district of Ponsonby
Auckland is ringed by buzzing towns and quiet neighbourhoods. One of our favourites is Ponsonby, filled with bars, vintage and designer shops, art galleries and restaurants offering everything from Auckland’s best pizza and Argentinian barbecue to Indo-Burmese curries partnered with zingy cocktails.
FOR ADRENALINE SEEKERS: flight lesson
Forget about the Sky Tower or the Bridge Climb and go for the real stuff. We chose the thrill of a flight lesson. Sitting in the pilot seat, controlling an aircraft, Will flew me over Auckland and the stunning islands of the Hauraki Gulf.
Price: $200 NZD for 30 minutes
Best time to visit Auckland, New Zealand
In Auckland you can experience four seasons in one day. You never know how the weather will be in the next hour. But one thing is for sure, winter in Auckland is cold! Plan on visiting during New Zealand’s summer, November to March, to enjoy the beaches and the hikes.
When It Rains, It Pours. Always keep an umbrella or a portable raincoat on hand because it rains rather frequently in Auckland. Don’t panic though, it can be miserable with a down-pouring for 5 minutes and then clear up with bright blue skies again.
After ten months living and working in Auckland we decided it was time to buy a car and go out exploring the rest of the country. Here is what we learned about Driving and Camping in New Zealand.