Our tips on how to make the most of a weekend in New Zealand City of Sails.
Take the ferry to Waiheke Island, sip champagne at one of Viaduct Harbour’s many bars, embrace the local culture with a trip to Auckland Museum, and climb to the summit of Mount Eden, one of the city’s many volcanic peaks. We have plenty of ideas to keep you busy.
Idyllic coastal oasis Waiheke Island is just a 35-minute ferry ride from Auckland city. Famous for its beaches, food and wine, there are a multitude of ways to while away a day on Waiheke Island. Walkers will love exploring the network of trails that cover the island, while beach goers should make a beeline to Oneroa, Palm Beach or Onetangi on Hauraki Gulf to swim, kayak and have fun in the sun. Art aficionados have an array of galleries to visit, thanks to the thriving community of artists who have made the island their home since the sixties. Meanwhile, wine lovers should book a tour that takes in a selection of the island’s 30 wineries, or head straight to Cable Bay Vineyard for lunch. Arrive early to nab a beanbag on the grass and be rewarded with an unbeatable view of Auckland city skyline.
Auckland doesn’t get more glamorous than an evening spent at one of Viaduct Harbour’s fabulous bars. Dine on fresh local oysters and French champagne and watch a spectacular sunset on Soul Bar & Bistro’s west-facing terrace, or engage in some serious whisky appreciation at Coley & Punch, a character-filled bar with 250 whiskies on the menu. Cocktails are serious business too at Coley & Punch. Try the classic espresso martini or a Manhattan, touted on the menu “as close to divine perfection as a cocktail can be”.
Auckland’s highest point is the 196m peak of Mount Eden, a dormant volcano known as Maungawhau lying just 4 kilometres from the city CBD. A climb to its summit is the perfect activity for families visiting Auckland. Kids of all ages will appreciate the stunning 360-degree views of the city and the dramatic 50-metre crater that last erupted 28,000 years ago.
Once you’ve conquered Mount Eden’s cratered peak, stick around to try some of the suburb’s fantastic dining options. Stop by Bolaven for its fresh juices and a tasty Laotian menu, Olaf’s Artisan Bakery and Cafe for the divine baked treats, or The Return of Rad for espresso and banh mi. Kids in tow? Head straight to the Juke Joint, a Brothers Beer outpost where adults can enjoy authentic smoky barbecued meats and craft beer brewed in-house, while the littlies play in the on-site sandpit.
Go higher still and ascend the Sky Tower, the tallest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere. At 220 metres above street level, the top observation deck offers a bird’s eye view of the Auckland CBD. Adrenalin junkies can sign up to SkyJump, a terrifying 192 metre fall from the tower attached to a wire. A slightly more sedate option is SkyWalk, a precarious guided walk around the tower’s outer ledge.
Auckland War Memorial Museum
Do a crash course in Kiwi culture at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, open daily 10am to 5pm. Priceless collections of Māori and Pacific Island artefacts are housed in a grand neoclassical building built in 1929 in Auckland Domain, one of the city’s largest public parks. Take a tour with a local guide to learn about New Zealand’s rich culture and history. The Moa Package ($55 for adults and $110 for a family of four) includes a Highlights Tour, a Cultural Performance and General Admission to the museum.