Auckland is New Zealand’s biggest city and the first port of call for many international visitors.
Those who don’t flee to the South Island will find a cosmopolitan city with a host of things to see and do, most within easy reach of the centre.
Here’s how to make the most of the city in 24 hours.
Breakfast in the city of sails
09.00 Auckland’s stunning harbour has views of the Tasman Sea to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east. Get a head start with breakfast at Viaduct Harbour on the north shore. The metropolis has been nicknamed . Boats of all sizes can be admired from the swanky cafes, bars and restaurants lining the harbour.
Lounge on the beach
10:00 From nearby Prince’s Wharf, catch a ferry for the 30-minute journey to Waiheke Island, renowned for its long beach, water sports and laid-back atmosphere. Check out the batches – weekend homes – dotting the island, which vary from rustic shacks to striking modern architecture. Hire a motorboat and zoom round the island, or follow the paths for a leisurely walk.
For those interested in sea life, a visit to the City Aquarium (Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World, to give it its full name) might be of interest. At four miles east of the centre, it’s a bit out of town, but highlights include tanks of sharks and stingrays.
Sample some seafood
12:00 One of the delights of visiting Auckland is the quality of seafood in its restaurants and fish and chip shops. Common fish, such as John Dory, hapuka and snapper, as well as crab, lobster and oysters, can all be found at Auckland’s fish market, a short walk west of Viaduct Harbour. Dedicated foodies can also attend cooking classes.
Get your bearings
13:00 Head back towards the centre and cut inland along Queen Street, a 10-minute walk from the harbour. Auckland’s main thoroughfare, it’s packed with shops, bars and restaurants, and, while it tends to resemble London’s Oxford Street on a quiet day, it’s in the heart of the city and a good place to get your bearings.
Reach for the sky
13:30–14:30 Turn right half-way up Queen Street and walk a couple of blocks along Victoria Street until you reach Sky City, complete with 24-hour casino, cinema and hotel. Nudging 1,000ft, its space-age Sky Tower is the southern hemisphere’s tallest building.
There are restaurants and cafes lining the bottom, and the Sky Lounge bar on the top level has killer views over the city. Adrenaline junkies will love the extreme activities on offer including base jumping from the viewing platform.
Immerse yourself in Maori culture
14:30 Back on Queen Street, cross over to the entrance of Albert Park. Auckland Art Museum, on the other side of the park, is also worth a visit with its paintings of the tattooed faces of former Maori chiefs by Victorian artist Charles Goldie. Entrance is free.
A short bus ride away visitors can find more at the Auckland Museum, where they’ll discover New Zealand’s largest collection of Maori artefacts and ceremonial objects.
Take in the views
16:00-18:00 Take a bus or taxi further south to the Eden Gardens – a beauty spot full of New Zealand’s prettiest flora. At the southern end is Mount Eden, the highest of about 40 dormant volcanoes in Auckland. Drive or walk the 600ft to the summit for more spectacular views.
18:00Ponsonby Road, widely regarded as the coolest part of town, is the ideal place for a quick cocktail before dinner. Blend in with Auckland’s glitterati at the many cafes, coffee shops and restaurants. Try GPK for stoned-baked pizza with unusual toppings such as Thai green curry, or the Anglesea Grill for fresh seafood.
Paint the town red
21:00 As night falls, head to the bars on adjoining Karangahape Road, known to the locals as K Road, which boasts the city’s highest concentration of nightclubs.