New Zealand’s largest city has much to offer any visitor on a short break, from unforgettable foodie finds and unique shopping to a thriving arts scene and pristine wilderness. It’s a place where there’s no need to choose between urban adventure and off-the-grid escape – both are right there for the taking. And, it’s all only three hours away from Australia’s east coast.
Auckland has a penchant for taking something ordinary and turning it into something beautiful and a little bit quirky for shoppers and diners alike. CBD haunt Britomart is a destination in itself, with luxe local labels and some of the city’s most exciting restaurants and bars calling this stylish enclave home. The same can be said for hip inner-city suburb, Ponsonby, where one-off boutiques take up residence beside modern cafes and eateries.
It’s not just the abundance of fantastic produce, but also eclectic cultural influences and a simple love for good food that drives local chefs to continually push the boundaries of edible experiences. Eating well comes as standard in Auckland, whether you’re after a burger or a multi-course tasting menu.
The culinary theme continues in wine country, and Auckland doesn’t just have one, but three distinct wine regions. Beautiful Waiheke Island is home to some 30 wineries and vineyards, and a short ferry ride from Viaduct Harbour will see you swirling and sipping in under an hour. North of the city, Matakana’s wine trail weaves through countryside and coastlines, while well-known labels and family-run brands take up residence in Auckland’s oldest wine region, Kumeu, to the west.
When last drinks are called or it’s time to change pace, Karekare and Kitekite Falls hidden nearby in the Waitakere Ranges are must-visits for those seeking a breath of fresh air. In fact, Auckland’s picturesque surrounds are home to myriad outdoor pleasures. Over 250 kilometres of walking trails and black sand beaches also call the region home.
Rangitoto Island is another must for day-trippers. Kayak or ferry across from Auckland for a hike to its volcanic cone, which offers 360-degree views of the Hauraki Gulf and city skyline. Back on the city side, Mt Eden features equally arresting views on an easier incline, and its quaint village centre is the perfect spot to take tea afterwards.
Further afield, but not too far for a day trip, knowledgeable guides showcase the enchanted south, where glowworms illuminate limestone formations in the Waitomo Caves and the magic of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit film trilogies lives on in whimsical Hobbiton.
Those seeking to amp up the action have plenty of options, too. There’s a 192-metre-leap off the Sky Tower, a hair-whipping flight over Waiheke’s rolling landscape on a zip-line, or a fast and furious slide down the sand dunes at Lake Wainamu.
When it comes to travel experiences, there’s really no need to choose one or the other in Auckland. This geographically blessed city has everything from vino vacays and tasting tours to trailblazing outdoor adventures covered. It’s two worlds in one.