Famously known as the ‘City of Sails’, Auckland is a world full of joy! With so much to see and do in Auckland, our local Stray team have selected their top 6 ways to spend a day or two in Auckland.
Auckland is a city that caters for everybody: the adventurous, the beach bums, the arts and culture lovers, the foodies and even your inner child – there’s something for everyone. Here are 6 things not to be missed.
1. West Coast – Karekare, Piha & Muriwai Beaches
This one is for all the beach bums! Discover the wild west and visit some of the country’s most amazing beaches. Explore Karekare beach, made famous by the Oscar-winning movie The Piano. Perfect for a relaxing 15-minute stroll along the black sand all the way to the spectacular Karekare falls, one of New Zealand’s must-see waterfalls.
Then drive over to Piha beach, a popular surf beach surrounded by rugged cliffs. Have a delicious picnic on the beach looking over at the Lion Rock, a small island in the middle of this majestic beach.
If two beaches aren’t enough, check out Muriwai Beach. An intriguing coastal beach surrounded by rugged cliff-top trails, streams and rivers. For the adventurous, you can explore the beach on a hired bike or “blokart”, it’s great fun!
For those of you who prefer to take a relaxing walk around the coastline, you can fly a kite, soak up the amazing views and check out the amazing gannet colony from one of the many easily accessible viewing platforms. If you want to spend more time on this magical beach, you could do a 1hour and 30min short walk starting from behind the surf tower at the parking area, which takes you through the golden sand dunes, onto Muriwai beach and then back alongside the coast road – a nice refreshing walk that’s easy on the legs!
2. Orakei basin, the Brothers Beer Brewery and Michael Joseph Savage Memorial Park
Located in a volcanic crater, the Orakei basin is a stunning lagoon. There is a short 2.9km walk that will take you around the edge of the basin, with serene views of the lake surrounded by lush native bush. When you’re done, check out the Brothers Beer Brewery and relax with one of 18 fresh drinks on tap and a mouth-watering bite whilst looking over the spectacular views of the Orakei Basin.
Then, head over to Bastion Point, just off Tamaki Drive to explore the Michael Joseph Savage Memorial Park. Set amongst 49 hectares of land, this popular attraction named after New Zealand’s first Labour Prime Minister offers amazing panoramic views of the Waitemata Harbour and Rangitoto Island. It also features an obelisk, sunken pool and beautifully landscaped gardens – the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
3. La Cigale French Markets and Auckland War Memorial Museum
Voted as Auckland’s Best Food Market by Metro Magazine for the last 7 years, the La Cigale French Market is not to be missed! This French-inspired market is the perfect way to kick-start your Saturday or Sunday. There’s plenty to get your hands on from local and overseas producers and growers. Look out for fresh bread and pastries, French cheeses, quality meats, fresh fruit and vegetables and more. As you walk through the market you’ll be blown away by the delicious smell of roast chicken and freshly cooked paella.
Once you’ve finished your shopping, enjoy a coffee and a tasty hot chocolate croissant – our favourite combo! You can then head over to the Auckland War Memorial Museum to get your history fix. Learn about New Zealand and its people through Maori and Pacific collections, decorative art galleries, military history collections and more.
4. Brunch at the Chelsea Sugar Factory
This one is for the foodies! Head over the spectacular harbour bridge, towards North Shore and enjoy a delicious brunch at the popular Chelsea Sugar Factory. From sweet and savoury to aromatic coffees and refreshing smoothies, you’ll have your taste buds tingling with every bite.
After brunch, you can discover the incredible workings of the factory and find out how the sugar is made and refined in a 1-hour tour for $25. Taste the different types of sugars and syrups, walk up and down 80 steps, hop on a train ride through the factory – it’s an immersive experience like no other!
5. Matakana Village Farmers’ Markets and Tawharanui Regional Park
Start your Saturday morning in a true foodie’s dream an hour north of Auckland city. The Matakana Village Farmers’ Market is the ideal place to visit for fresh, sustainable and local artisan goods. There’s plenty for everyone, from award-winning coffee to freshly made bites like hot mussel fritters and maple syrup crepes, which you can enjoy in a serene riverside setting.
The markets are zero waste, so take your bags with you, stock up on all the local goodies and look after the environment at the same time – perfect!
After the markets, check out one of Auckland and North Island’s best-kept secrets, the Tawharanui Regional Park. A paradise for picnic lovers, swimmers and surfers! You’ll be blown away by the clear blue waters and golden sand of this stunning park. If you’re game enough, do one of the trails walks at the far end of the beach through farmland and lush native bush or sit back and soak up the gorgeous views of this wee little paradise.
6. Take a ferry from Auckland to Tiritiri Matangi Island
Calling all wildlife lovers out there, this one’s for you! Hop on a ferry from Auckland city and discover this must-see wildlife sanctuary for threatened and endangered native birds and reptiles on 220-hectares of land. Look out for stitchbirds, bellbirds and tiny, wee robins as you walk through this stunning paradise.
Tiritiri Matangi, one of the most successful conservation projects in the world, has many guided and unguided walks through the surrounding tracks and beaches where you can spot the cutest little blue penguins! Enjoy a picnic at the visitor centre before discovering the oldest working lighthouse in New Zealand.
For more inspiration for your visit to downtown Auckland and the surrounding attractions, check out this guide to the city – from a local who knows all the best places to hang out.
Like we said, there’s something for everyone in Auckland! We’ve picked out our favourite 6 things for you to explore, but we have also created this free Auckland guide with even more things to do and see. Check ‘em out and let us know what you thought.