Essential Auckland

Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, has myriad attractions and sights to occupy the traveller.  But what are the don’t-miss essential Auckland activities?  Here’s a brief guide to those Auckland itinerary essentials.

Essential Auckland Activities You Don’t Want To Miss

Ascend the Sky Tower

It’s always easier to get your bearings in a new city if you’re high up, so make a trip up the city’s tallest structure one of your first things to do when you get to essential Auckland activities.  The Sky Tower stands 328 metres tall and has dominated the skyline since it opened in 1997.  Its public viewing platform is located 220 metres above street level and offers impressive 360˚ views of up to 50 miles on a clear day.  It’s reached by a 40 second ride in a glass-fronted elevator, which certainly beats the 1267 steps you’d have to climb if you made your ascent on foot.

Sky Tower. Essential Auckland activities
Sky Tower

Take to the water

Those far-reaching views out to see will have tempted you to explore beyond the city and there are several excellent options for a boat trip.  A day out on tranquil Waiheke Island is always popular and there are plenty of vineyards and galleries to help you while away the time.  Even closer is historic Devonport.  Less than a quarter of an hour by boat from the city, it’s home to an interesting naval museum and plenty of heritage buildings that have been lovingly restored.  There’s also an eclectic mix of boutiques and eateries just begging to be frequented.

Waiheke winery. Essential Auckland activities
Waiheke winery: Photo on Flickr by Brian Lamb / CC BY 2.0

Hike up a volcano

As New Zealand sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, it’s no surprise to find that the Auckland landscape is characterised by no less than 48 volcanic cones.  They’re a good excuse for a hike or a summer picnic and the summits afford some of the city’s most spectacular views. Try Mount Eden, at 196 metres, Auckland’s highest, or One Tree Hill (Maungakiekie), which is topped by a monument to Sir John Logan Campbell who was instrumental in the city’s early development.  Alternatively, Mangere Mountain is the best preserved cone with a trail leading to some fascinating remains of Maori settlements.  Equally recognisable is the symmetrical cone of Rangitoto Island that emerged from the sea just 600 years ago, making it a baby in geological terms.

Mangere Mountain's central crater. Essential Auckland activities
Mangere Mountain’s central crater

Visit a museum

Two museums stand out: Auckland Museum and the New Zealand Maritime Museum.  The former sets the scene, telling the story of the Pacific people who became the nation’s first settlers.  Exhibits include carvings, canoes and treasures which offer a fascinating insight into Maori culture.  New Zealand’s long seafaring history is the focus of the Maritime Museum, an interactive space offering visitors the chance to test their skill at yacht design, hoist sails and relax in a typical bach.  Hour-long trips in the heritage scow Ted Ashby are also available.

Auckland Museum. Essential Auckland activities
Auckland Museum by Greg O’Beirne CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

About JuliaHammond


Julia Hammond is a Geography teacher turned travel writer with a passion for places. Winning Mail Travel's Deep South competition was the catalyst to write for a diverse range of publications including Bradt's Bus Pass Britain Rides Again. She’s written Kindle guides to Cape Town, Peru and London for Unanchor and advice on Savannah for Wanderlust. When not travelling, she can be found at home in Essex planning her next trip, her two golden retrievers curled up at her feet.

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