Once your flights start going into the double digits in hours, the majority of New Zealand-bound travelers land in Auckland. It’s a quarter of its population, making it the country’s largest city. Auckland has similar cultural feats, with familiar foods to the States, and with everything in English, it makes one comfortable landing pad for foreigners. The city boasts iconic landmarks like the Sky Tower, and a cinematic view of the Rangitoto volcano, to remind visitors that they’re halfway across the world. All you need are comfy walking shoes to get around, although, there are plenty of bikes and cabs you can take. You’ll have plenty of things to do, eat, sip and experience the night life. If you like a bit of more adventure, you can even head south for an increasingly rural experience. We provided you some things to do in Auckland, New Zealand if you have 72 hours to spare.
Things to do in Auckland, New Zealand: Where to stay
When in doubt, stay somewhere in downtown. And that’s exactly where the action is in Auckland. If you stay at Hotel DeBrett, you’ll in the thick of it. The hotel has 25 rooms of luxury boutique gem, that’s garnished in New Zealand artistry. The rooms are accented in vibrant yet polished colors and carpeted with hand-woven New Zealand wool. The hotel is a stone’s throw from the Viaduct’s restaurants and myriad nightlife festivities. It also rests along Queens Street, which is the city’s spine for fashion, commerce and entertainment. If you’re looking for a less boutique option, something more grand, you can check out The Langham Auckland. The rooms here features handcrafted wood furniture and a classic upscale elegance. This hotel however, is on the other end of Queens Street, but if you prefer the walk on a cool summer night, this location isn’t too shabby. One of the most romantic places to stay is the Mollies, a five-star boutique hotel, sits in a quiet suburban area, but still a short walk to downtown Auckland. The hotel has 10 spacious suites that have gorgeous views of either the sea, and urban garden or the city.
Where to eat
There’s a lot of great foods in Auckland. To say that their food and wine scene is popping might actually be an understatement. Check out the Best Ugly Bagels for breakfast. Each of the bagel, Montreal-style and deliberately manhandled, is made from scratch and simmered in sweet honey water. If you need coffee, get it at Miller’s Coffee. And for dinner, check out Federal Delicatessen, helmed by chef Al Brown. His unique style of cooking blends classic Jewish meals, like milk-fed veal schnitzel or a toasted rueben, with New Zealand flair. Brown has another must-hit spot, but only depending on the season, Depot Eatery, where you’ll be served with freshly shucked oysters or squid ink linguine and “Cloudy Bay” clams. If you have time, or room for another spot, check out Orphans Kitchen on Ponsonby Road. At this self-professed “home of unadulterated food and naughty wine,” we recommend ordering the wagyu brisket, Wild Boar Boil Up and the rye gnocchi. However, if you’re craving Japanese cuisine, check out the small brick building, Cocoro, you’ll be in for a delicious treat.
What to do
Auckland, New Zealand is a clean and safe walking city, a far cry from New York or Los Angeles. If you’re in for some adrenaline rush, go to the top of the Sky Tower and look out over the city. It’s the tallest building in the southern hemisphere. Visitors also has the option to jump off of its controlled free fall experience (New Zealand is one of the world’s extreme sports capitals). If you want a change of scenery to jump off, check out Auckland Bridge, which is a 130-foot bungee jump that usually dunks guests into the harbor below. If you get tired of the city center and Queen Street, you can take a 15-minute walk to the Auckland Domain. It’s the oldest park in Auckland, and at over 7,500 acres, you can do just about anything, from playing pick-up cricket or rugby, to visiting the Botanical Gardens, or looking through the Auckland War Memorial Museum – definitely a leisurely way to spend a beautiful and cool afternoon. After this, walk over to the up-and-coming neighborhood anchored by Ponsonby Street. Known locally for its creative shops, alternative art and vibrant bars, it’s a nice change-up from the hum of downtown. If you’re keen on a little more action, and maybe a deeper introduction to Auckland, attend an Auckland Union rugby match.
It’s easy to get anywhere within the city, which is part of what makes Auckland so great. There are ferry passes available to those who want to go across the bay and visit either Davenport – think Northeastern shore town – or Rangitodo Island, where you can hike up the active volcano. Those are both day trips. But if you want to go a little bit further, you can easily always rent a car. Within minutes you’ll see verdant hills and sheep pastures. In New Zealand, sheep-to-human ratio is about 4:1, making it quite an exquisite sight. If you drive south of the city for about two hours, you’ll get to see the Lord of the Rings country, Hobbiton, but the city is called Matamata. If you’re a surfer, check out Piha, Maori Bay and Muriwai, which are local hot spots that’s less than an hour’s drive away.