Stunning beaches, amazing food and wine, and great shopping make this New Zealand charmer a perfect holiday destination for all seasons.
Located on North Island, Auckland is one of the few cosmopolitans in the world to perch on an isthmus, flanked by Tasman Sea’s Manukau Harbour and the Pacific Ocean’s Waitemata Harbour. But that is not the only astounding fact about its geography. The city also sits on the Auckland Volcanic Field which consists of about 50 extinct volcanoes!
Check out some of these fun things you can do in Auckland:
1. Enjoy 360-degree views of the city from Auckland Sky Tower
An icon of the city, the Auckland Sky Tower stands majestically at 328 metres tall, serving as a telecommunications, observation, and entertainment tower. The viewing deck here provides magnificent views of the surrounding cityscape, sea and mountains. For something more adventurous, sign up for their thrilling SkyJump and SkyWalk activities.
Admission fee: NZD 29 (adult), NZD 12 (children), NZD 20 (student), NZD 23 (senior citizen), free admission for children under 5 years old
Opening hours: 9am-10pm daily (May – October), 8.30am-10.30 pm from Sun to Thurs, 8.30am-11.30pm Mon & Tues (November – April)
2. Frolic around gorgeous beaches
With its unique location on an isthmus, the city of Auckland boasts miles and miles of scenic coastlines, approximately 29,000 kilometers! There are no less than a hundred beaches around the city centre and beyond. The closest and easiest to get to from city centre are Mission Bay and Takapuna Beach, whilst the white shores of Pakiwi Beach and Orewa Beach are accessible less than an hour’s drive away. Surfers will love the slick waves and rugged black sands Muriwai Beach and Karekare Beach.
3. Dine, shop, and have a relaxing afternoon at trendy Ponsonby
Reserve a spot in your itinerary for a few hours of dining, relaxing, and perhaps a little bit of shopping at this chic inner-city suburb of Ponsonby. This hip and happening neighbourhood has plenty of cafes, boutiques, and quaint buildings to see.
4. Explore the hippie and artsy Waiheke Island
Accessible via a 40-minute ferry ride is Waiheke Island, which has beautiful vineyards, olive groves, and stunning beaches. Go on a winery tour and have delicious lunch overlooking scenic views of Auckland city, or explore the many nooks and corners of Waiheke Island’s charming little town centre.
5. Follow the volcanic trails of Rangitoto Island
You can also hop on a short ferry ride to Rangitoto Island, the youngest and largest volcano around the province. With its symmetrically-shaped shield volcano cone that stands majestically at 260 metres high, the island is a popular spot for hikers and day trippers.
6. Visit Your Uncle Bilbo at Hobbiton
Okay Bilbo Baggins might not really be here, but you can still experience the magical world of hobbits and wizards at the Hobbiton Movie Set, where international blockbusters The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies were shot. Highlights here include Bilbo Baggins’ Bag Ends iconic little home, the Party Tree, and Bagshot Row. Yes, you can even have ‘second breakfast’ at The Shires Rest café!
How to get there: Hobbiton Movie Set is located approximately 3 hours by drive from the city centre. Tours are organised by various operators in the city.
7. Bask in the fresh flora at Domain Wintergardens
Built in the early 1900s, Domain Wintergardens features two Victorian glasshouses filled with thousands of tropical and cold climate plants. Admission is free and you can take a stroll to admire at some rare and pretty plants for as long as you want.
8. Savour fresh aromas and sample great food at Matakana Farmers’ Market
Fresh produce, fine wines, freshly roasted coffee, organic chocolates, kitschy fashion, and even live music await visitors at the Matakana Farmers’ Market. Happening every Saturday morning at the charming little village of Matkana, just 40 minutes’ drive up north from the city centre.
9. Start the day with awesome brunch
Home of more than 1.4 million people including more than a quarter portion of Polynesian heritage, Auckland has a multicultural environment with excellent dining scene. It’s not uncommon to find a French bistro in a same vicinity as a Korean BBQ restaurant, or to start your day with an expertly-brewed latte and Instagram-perfect waffles at a chic café.
10. Shop till you drop at Britomart
With its heritage buildings, cobbled laneways, and al-fresco spaces, Britomart promises a day of leisurely fun for shoppers. This waterfront property feature local New Zealand designers including Karen Walker’s high fashion street wear and Kathryn Wilson’s pretty pumps and stilettos, as well as international brands such as Jo Malone and Tiffany & Co.
GETTING THERE: AirAsia X flies to Auckland from Kuala Lumpur. For low fares and flight info, visit airasia.com.