Six unique things to do in Auckland

Are you searching for your next sensational travel adventure? Then look no further, because Auckland is chock-a-block with unique must-do experiences. Whether you’re biking or hiking, exploring nature or indulging your love of fine food and wine, coastal Auckland is your one-stop shop for good times. So what are you waiting for?

  • Author

    Discover Auckland
  • Last updated

    Apr 2024
  • Time to read

    6 mins

1. Set your sights on the stars at Aotea Great Barrier Island Dark Sky Sanctuary

Image credit: Mark Russell

This far flung island is at the edge of the Hauraki Gulf, 92 kilometres from Auckland. You can fly there in just 30 minutes, or opt for the fabulous 4.5-hour ferry ride where dolphin sightings are pretty much guaranteed. Once on the island, you’ll learn that the locals are reliant on solar power, which means minimal light pollution for certified spectacular stargazing – the island was designated Dark Sky Sanctuary status in 2017.

To enjoy a guided tour of the night sky, book an experience with the team at Good Heavens. Their trained Dark Sky Ambassadors offer astronomical experiences on beaches, or viewings at private homes. Once night has fallen, you’ll be invited to rug up in your comfortable moon chair and sip on hot chocolate while the marvels of the night sky are revealed. Peer through a powerful telescope at planets, stars and the magnificent Milky Way for an experience that’s literally out of this world.

2. Scale the Sky Tower and experience the magic of Wētā Workshop Unleashed


Image credit: AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand

No trip to Auckland is complete without scaling the dizzy heights of the Sky Tower. A lofty 328 metres tall, the Sky Tower is the second tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere, and from the top you can marvel at awe-inspiring views of the Waitākere Ranges to Waitematā Harbour and beyond. Adventurous souls can sign up for an adrenaline-pumping SkyWalk or take the SkyJump, a 192-metre base jump on a wire. Or perhaps you’d rather just relax at one of the eateries up in the clouds – enjoy 360-degree views while dining at the revolving restaurant Orbit, or indulge on high at glamourous The Sugar Club on level 53. 

SkyCity is also home to one of Auckland’s newest attractions, Wētā Workshop Unleashed, where fantasy film fans can dive into the magical world of moviemaking by joining an immersive 90-minute hosted tour that will blow your mind.

3. Pedal around Auckland’s epic cycleways

Exploring on two wheels is one of the most enjoyable ways to unlock Auckland’s charms. With hundreds of kilometres of separated cycleways, there are several dynamic companies offering half-day or full-day guided cycle tours. Or you can hire a bike – electric or pedal-powered – and follow your nose. Will you cruise along the waterfront from Tāmaki Drive to Westhaven Marina? Or explore the nooks and crannies of the outstanding Northwestern Cycleway, a route that takes riders from the central city all the way to Westgate and features several groovy sidetracks, including one to the charming suburb of Te Atatū Peninsula, and another out to Henderson, Oratia and beyond. Alternatively, you could turn off at the Waterview intersection, then pedal south all the way to quaint little Mangere Bridge. 

There are so many lovely loops to choose from, with plenty of parks, views and eateries along the way. To find out more, visit Bike Auckland or Auckland Transport, whose websites provide maps and itinerary suggestions. For something a bit buzzier, head out west to the Woodhill Mountain Bike Park for some single track thrills in the forest! 

4. Eat your way through Auckland’s renowned foodie scene

Auckland is famous for serving up a wide range of delectable cuisine. Whether you crave high-end gourmet fare or more casual dining, your appetites are sure to be sated in Auckland. But because it can be tricky to figure out where to start your culinary adventure when there’s so much on offer, we recommend joining an Aucky Walky food tour. Their most popular guided excursion sets off from ‘eat street’ at the base of the Sky Tower. From there, food fans are led on a leisurely three-kilometre stroll showcasing the city’s diverse eating options and chefs who pride themselves on using the freshest, most flavoursome ingredients.

To explore further afield, how about booking a day tour with Bush and Beach to explore the Kumeu wine-growing region? Stop for tastings at three vineyards, including a sumptuous lunch at Soljans Estate Winery before ending the day with a stroll on majestic Muriwai Beach. 

For something a little quirkier, head 80 kilometres north of the city to Scott’s Landing and board the Shuckle Ferry where guests are taken out on a gentle cruise of the shallow sheltered bays of Mahurangi Harbour. Once you weigh anchor at the skipper’s oyster farm, you can soak up the unparalleled peace while enjoying a masterclass on oyster extraction, then shuck oysters to your heart’s content – a totally serene marine scene.

5. Climb one of Auckland’s volcanoes

Auckland’s explosive past lends the landscape a unique topography, with 48 dormant volcanic cones standing like sentinels across the region. It’s intriguing to say the least, and no trip to Auckland is complete without scaling at least one magical mountain – or maunga as they’re known in te reo Māori. We recommend starting with Maungawhau Mt Eden. Closed to traffic, unless visitors have mobility issues, your walk to the summit will take about 20 minutes. At the top, marvel at  the extraordinary views of the city spread out before you, from mountains to the sea. Or wander up Maungakiekie One Tree Hill in the middle of Cornwall Park, a working farm with rich heritage and mature trees. Māngere Mountain is another epic climb where you’ll also find a world-class education centre that shines a light on the mountain’s geological and human stories with guided walks to learn about traditional Māori life, agriculture and heritage.

To drill even deeper into the city’s geological background, the Volcanoes Gallery at Auckland War Memorial Museum offers a glimpse into the scientific and cultural stories behind the big bangs that shaped this very special landscape. Another novel way to enjoy the many peaks of this metropolis is to step out on Auckland’s 16-kilometre Coast to Coast Walkway. Clearly signposted, you can either begin on the Onehunga foreshore or on Queen Street in the central city, and en route you’ll encounter five volcanic sites. 

6. Meet the wildlife on Tiritiri Matangi Island

Tiritiri Matangi Island is paradise for bird lovers. Just a 75-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland, this predator-free open scientific sanctuary is home to abundant bush and forest and an impressive array of New Zealand’s remarkable native birds.

Spend the day learning about Aotearoa’s unique flora and fauna with passionate guides who share their knowledge with small groups. As you’re led along the many kilometres of walking trails, they’ll point out all manner of birds, many of them rare or endangered, including kōkako, tūī, and plump pigeons called kererū.

For many visitors, the takahē is a total charmer – long thought to be extinct, you could watch these inquisitive rainbow-hued birds go about their business all day. Tiritiri Matangi is an absolute treasure.
Written by Discover Auckland

Last updated 10 Apr 2024

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